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Kauai Beaches

Kauai is the smallest, and also the oldest of the major Hawaiian Islands, only 33 miles long and 25 miles wide, but it boasts more than 40 beaches, many of them some of the finest in the world. Also packed into that relatively small space is some of the most spectacular scenery in the world, so if you can tear yourself away from the beach, you will find lots more to see and do. Fortunutely, you can also see much of this spectacular scenery right from the beach.

The North Shore beaches of Kauai are some of the most beautiful, but during the winter months swimming here can be dangerous due to large surf and strong currents. Many of these beaches require a hike to get down to, but they are well worth it. During the summer months the snorkeling and diving can be fantastic.
The South Shore beaches of Kauai are the sunniest, so if the weather is not cooperating where you are, you can often find better conditions for sunbathing with a short drive to the south shore. You will also find great swimming and snorkeling at many soft sandy beaches here. Kauai’s Eastern Shore beaches usually front the many hotels and condos that are found here, and during the winter months the sea is often too rough for swimming, and the trade winds are often blowing fairly hard. These beaches are great for walking along, and in the summer months can be great swimming and snorkeling.
The West coast of Kauai has some of the more isolated beaches, and has the best sunsets views. There is a black sand beach at Waimea, and Polihale is a bright white sand beach, and the longest on the island.
In the Northwest part of Kauai, the coast is dominated by the Na Pali cliffs, and the beaches only accessible by hiking or boating in.

For general information about beaches around the island, call the County Department of Parks and Recreation (PHONE: 808/241-6670).

The list of beaches below starts from the western end of Route 50 at the westernmost part of Kauai and goes counterclockwise around the island to Ha'ena at the end of the road on the North Shore.

Polihale State Park & Barkingsands Beach -
At the extreme western end of Kauai, this 15 mile long beach stretches from the town of Kekaha to the 140 acre Polihale State Park. This brilliant white expanse of sandy beach and huge dunes with the cliffs of the Na Pali within sight is framed by majestic mountains, making it an extremely scenic area. When the ocean is rough, the swimming can be dangerous here, so be careful. There is a protected swimming area known as Queen’s Pond in the southern part of Polihale Beach going toward Barking Sands Beach. On weekends the locals often come here to dune-buggy. The road into the Park is rough, and takes about a half hour to drive from the end of the pavement on Route 50.
FACILITIES at Polihale State Park include restrooms, showers, picnic tables, drinking water, no lifeguard.
LOCATED: Take Highway 50 from Waimea west, all the way to the end of the paved road turning left at a Hawaiian Warrior Marker. Continue on the dirt/sand road. The first turn on the left leads to Barking Sands Beach. If you continue to go straight you will come to Polihale. The State Park is at the north end of the beach. Queen’s Pond is at the south end of the beach.

Kekaha Beach Park –
This 15 mile long and quite wide beach has decent swimming when the ocean is calm, but can be dangerous when rough. Surfing and windsurfing are popular here, as well as dune-buggying on the weekends.
FACILITIES include porta-potties, showers, and occasional lifeguard.
LOCATED: Off hwy 50 going west from Waimea between Mile Markers 26 and 27.

Lucy Wright Beach Park -
A five acre park located at Waimea, popular with locals for surfing and swimming. Nice, but not particularly special.
FACILITIES include restrooms, showers.
LOCATED: Just outside of Waimea along hwy 50.

Pakala Beach -
This beautiful beach area is one of Kauai’s most famous surfing beaches. The reef creates a surf break which is called the Infinities, reportedly because the ride seems to last an infinity. The waters are not usually safe for swimming, and you should only attempt the surfing if you are an expert. The area is very picturesque, and a great place for sunbathing.
LOCATED: Just outside of Waimea two miles east of the mouth of the Waimea River.

Salt Pond Beach Park -
This is one of Kauai’s more popular beaches because it has something for just about everyone, plus excellent facilities. The sheltered cove offers excellent swimming in the protected waters for the entire family. There are ancient salt ponds to explore, some of which are still in use today by the local Hawaiians. Permission is needed to enter the salt making areas. The snorkeling is excellent, and there are tidepools to explore. The conditions are ideal for windsurfing which is popular here.
FACILITIES include restrooms, showers, picnic area with pavilions and grills, large grassy area, and lifeguards.
LOCATED: Just southwest of Hanapepe. Going on hwy 50 west from Kalaheo, just past Mile Marker 17 turn left on Lele and then right on Lokokai Road to the Park.

Poipu Beach Park -
Located near some of Kauai’s most popular resorts, the beaches that make up Poipu Beach Park are some of the finest in Hawaii, if not the world. These crescent shaped beaches are protected by an offshore reef which creates great swimming conditions, some of the best snorkeling on Kauai, and further offshore there are nice waves for surfing. The Poipu area has the most consistently sunny weather in Kauai, and that along with the clean white sandy beaches, warm clear blue waters, surrounding coconut palms and large grassy areas make this beach park hard to beat.
There are three main areas of beach. On the eastern side, a jetty protects a small cove named Baby Beach which has shallow calm waters ideal for small children. Going further to the west, the beach slopes gently into the sea creating good conditions for easy swimming or beginner boggie boarding. Further west there is a sandbar, and across from that is a large lagoon which offers incredibly good snorkeling.
FACILITIES include restrooms, showers, picnic areas and pavilions, grills, telephones, lifeguards, food concessions nearby, ample parking, grassy and shady areas, children’s playground.
LOCATED: Going east on Hwy 50 from Hanapepe toward Lawa’i, turn right on Koloa Road (Hwy 530) just past Mile Marker 11. Continue down to Poipu Road and turn right. At the fork near the ocean go left, and just past the Poipu Shopping Center take Hoowili Road to the right and follow it down to the beach area.

Brennecke's Beach -
On the eastern edge of Poipu Beach Park, this beach area has been recently been restored by removing seawalls which were causing sand erosion, and trucking in vast amounts of sand. The result is today a beautiful beach area renowned for it’s small to medium sized waves which are perfect for body boarding and body surfing.
FACTILITIES include restrooms, showers, lifeguards, food concessions nearby.
LOCATED: At the eastern end of Poipu Beach Park. See driving instructions above.

Shipwreck Beach (Keoneloa Beach) -
One of the largest beaches in the Poipu area, it is a prime area for windsurfers, surfers and boogie boarders due to the strong wave action and consistant winds. While good for these activities, these conditions can also make it difficult for swimming much of the time. You won’t find the shipwreck so don’t bother to look, it was an old wooden boat which had wrecked here and is now long gone. The beach has a Kauai County Park facility on it’s eastern end, and beyond that is a spectacular wilderness shoreline trail that goes for miles.
FACILITIES include restrooms, showers, picnic areas and food concessions nearby.
LOCATED: On Keoneloa Bay fronting the Hyatt Hotel. Taking Hwy 50 eastward toward Lawa’I, turn right on Koloa Road (Hwy 530) just past Mile Marker 11, at Poipu Road turn right, at the fork near the ocean go left. At the Hyatt Hotel you will find public access between the Hyatt and Poipu Bay Resort Golf Course.

Maha’ulepu Beach -
This scenic beach is not as often visited by tourists. It is accessed by crossing through private property, and there may be a security guard, but entry is ordinarily not a problem. There is an offshore coral reef which makes this area good for swimming, and bodysurfers when the waves are good.
There are no facilities.
LOCATED: Go down Poipu Road, and just past the golf course turn right on a dirt road leading toward the CJIM Stables. Park before the road gets too steep and walk down to the beach.

Kalapaki Beach -
Fronting the Kauai Marriott Resort & Beach Club, this beach is noted as being one of the better swimming beaches on Kauai. Located at Lihue, there is a fine view of the ships in the harbor.
FACILITIES include restrooms, showers, lifeguards and food concessions nearby.
LOCATED: In Lihue just off of Wapa’a Road, which runs from Lihue to Nawiliwili.

Hanama’ulu Beach -
Popular among the locals but not often visited by tourists, this beautiful beach fronts a lagoon area formed by Hanamaulu stream.
FACILITIES include restrooms, showers, picnic facilities, pavilion.
LOCATED: From Kuhio Hwy take Hanamaula Road, and then turn right on Hehi road and follow to beach area.

Lydgate Beach Park -
Offering a very family friendly beach, this is one of Kauai’s most popular parks. The Hanama’ulu stream flows into the bay here, and there are two fishponds nearby, and grassy tree shaded areas.
FACILITIES include restrooms, showers, picnic areas, pavilion, lifeguards.
LOCATED: Near mouth of Wailua River, turn off Route 56 to Lehu Dr, and then left on Nalu Road.

Hanama'ulu Beach County Park -
This is a popular camping area, one of the very few beaches where camping is permitted. The Hanama’ulu stream empties into the bay here, making a very picturesqe scene. A safe swimming area with a gentle surf, the park is located on the southeast coast less than a mile from Hanamaulu town.
FACILITIES include restrooms, showers, picnic tables, grills.
LOCATED: Take Highway 56, turn right at Hanamaulu Road across from Hanamaulu Cafe until you come to a fork; stay on Hanamaulu Road going down a hill, until you come to beach area..

Kapa’a Beach Park -
Covering over 15 acres with a mile long stretch of beach, it is an inviting spot in spite of the run-down area surrounding it. The swimming is normally safe here, but in rough seas can be dangerous.
FACILITIES include showers, restrooms, picnic facilities, grills, water (not potable).
LOCATED: Travelling north on Hwy 27, turn down signed road just past the 16 Mile Marker.

Kealia Beach -
A wide sandy beach which stretches for a half mile. Popular with surfers and boogie boarders especially during the summer when the waves are perfect and there is not much of a riptide. There are the ruins of an old dock from when Kealia was a plantation town, and the inter-island steamer would stop here.
FACILITES are not available here.
LOCATED: Along the Kuhio Hwy north of Kapaa Beach in Kealia.

Donkey Beach -
Known primarily as a surfing beach, there is a lovely strand of beach with shade trees which makes this a comfortable spot to hang out on the beach. The swimming is ordinarily dangerous here because of the waves and strong undertow, but when conditions allow the snorkeling is very good. It requires a short hike from the road to get to the beach. The name comes from the times when the nearby plantations used donkeys to haul cane from the fields.
FACILITIES are not available here.
LOCATED: Along Kuhio Hwy north of Kealia. Park along the highway where you’ll see other cars parked and walk in to the beach area on the nearby cane road.

Anahola Beach Park -
With the Makalena Mountains in the background, this lovely beach has good swimming and snorkeling with an offshore reef creating ordinarily calm waters here. Good beach for small children, with clean sand and shade trees.
FACILITIES include restrooms, showers, picnic tables, occasional lifeguards.
LOCATED: On Route 56, turn toward the beach near Mile Marker 13 on Anahola Road.

Kahili Beach (Quarry Beach) -
Known locally as Quarry Beach because of the nearby abandoned Kahili Quarry. This beach is not often visited by other than the locals because it is fairly secluded. There is good swimming when waters are calm. A popular area for surfing, but not advised for the novice surfer or body boarder.
FACILITIES are not available here.
LOCATED: Outside of Kilauea on Kilauea Bay. Going out from Kilauea and past Kong Lung Store take the second dirt road to the right and go about 1.5 miles to a parking lot. You must wade across Kilauea Stream to get to the beach.

Kauapea Beach (Secret Beach) -
A large beach with nice views, but not easily reached. Camping is allowed with a permit. Used mostly by locals. Historic Kilauea Lighthouse is nearby.
FACILITIES are not available.
LOCATED: Near Kilauea. From Kuhio Hwy turn right on Kalihiwai Road (just after Banana Joe’s) and take the first dirt road to the right. Go a mile, turn right at the iron gate, go downhill to parking area and look for a sign which points out the trail to the beach. The walk to the beach takes about 15 minutes.

Kalihiwai Beach -
Fronting Kalihiwai Bay, this large sandy beach is usually calm and good safe swimming, even for small children. There are nearby shade trees. In the winter it is a popular spot with surfers. Kilihiwai Stream divides the beach.
FACILITIES are not available here.
LOCATED: Just outside of Kilauea off of Kuhio Hwy.

Anini Beach County Park -
A long coral reef offshore protects this 3 mile long beach and helps make it one of the safest of all the Kauai beachs on the North Shore. Swimming, snorkeling, scuba diving, windsurfing and boogie boarding are all popular here. Very expensive homes occupy the bluff above. Lots of shade trees around, making it a very comfortable place to hang out.
FACILITIES include showers, restrooms, picnic areas, grills, no lifeguard.
LOCATED: Just outside of Kilauea along Hwy 56, turn right on Kalihiwai Road at Kalihiwai Bridge, then turn right on Anini Road to the beach.

Hanalei Bay Beach Park -
One of the most beautiful spots you might hope to see, this lovely bay ringed with sandy beaches offers a great view of the surrounding mountains. This area is famous for it’s fine surfing and boogie boarding, and when the ocean is calm the swimming is good, but there are often strong currents. The safest swimming is near the old pier. There are large grassy and shady areas, making it a comfortable place to spend the day.
FACILITIES include restrooms, showers, picnic areas, pavilions, grills, lifeguard.
LOCATED: Take Highway 560 west toward Hanalei from Princeville. Turn right on Aku. This road ends at Weke Road. Go right to Hanalei Beach Park or left to Wai’oli Beach Park.

Lumaha'i Beach -
This beach is famous for it’s spectacular beauty, and because it is where Mitzi Gaynor in the movie South Pacific “washed that man right out of my hair”. Flanked by high mountains and lava rocks, this crescent beach of golden sand is the most photographed in all of Kauai. The Lumahai Stream comes down to the sea here, and there are often cool pools to refresh in near the ocean. There are usually some surfers here, but the main downside to this spot is that surf conditions can often be dangerous for swimming. This area is best for sunbathing.
FACILITIES are not available here.
LOCATED: Take Highway 560 west from Hanalei toward Ha’ena. A trail runs from the top of the lookout at the eastern edge down to the beach or take the trail from the parking lot just before the Lumaha’i Stream.

Tunnels Beach -
A large deep lagoon protected by a close offshore reef makes this one of the best swimming and snorkeling spots in Kauai. The 2 mile long beach slopes gently into the sea with shade trees offering relief from the sun, and runs from Halalei Colony Resort to Ha’ena Beach Park. The reef contains many caverns in deep water making for great diving here, as well as fine snorkeling.
FACILITIES are not available here.
LOCATED: Take Highway 560 east from Hanalei toward Ha’ena. Two short dirt roads, just past Mile Marker #8, lead to the parking area for the beach.

Ha'ena Beach Park -
A beautiful and popular spot, but when the surf is up, the swimming is safer down towards Tunnels Beach where there is an offshore reef. It is also a popular surfing spot, but only for the more experienced surfer. There is a nice grassy picnic area and shade trees.
FACILITIES include restrooms, showers, picnic tables, grills, pavilion, no lifeguards.
LOCATED: Near the end of Route 56 on north shore just across from lava-tube sea caves.

At the very end of Hwy 560, this beautiful beach has a protective reef which makes it a great swimming and snorkeling spot when the ocean is calm, primarily during the summer months. The outer reef is a popular diving area. In winter, much of the sand gets washed away and the seas can be too rough for swimming. Take care when swimming that near the opening from the lagoon to the sea on the left side there are often strong currents that can carry you out. The trailhead for the Kalalau Trail which goes along the Na Pali Coast starts here near the beach.
FACILITIES include restrooms, showers, picnic areas, cultural areas, no lifeguards.
LOCATED: Take Highway 560 east past Ha’ena all the way to the end of the road.

Hanakapi'ai Beach -
Getting to this beautiful beach requires a 2 mile hike on the Kalalau Trail along the Na Pali Coast through an area of spectacular scenic beauty. Once on the beach you should linger to enjoy the surrounding beauty, but swimming is not advised due to the strong currents which are found all along this part of the coast. A nice sidetrip from here is up the stream for 2 miles to Hanakapi’ai Falls, which invites you for a cool dip in the pool below.
FACILITIES are not available here.
LOCATED: 2 miles down the Kalalau Trail which begins at the northern end of Route 56. The trail is steep in parts, and can be muddy after rains.

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