The 14 Best Beaches in Kauai

Kauai is the largest of Hawaii’s main islands and the least commercially developed. It’s sometimes referred to as “the Garden Island” and for good reason. The island of Kauai is simply one of the most breathtakingly beautiful places you’ll ever see. Because of this, it’s been the location of several famous Hollywood films. It’s a great place for hiking, relaxing, and trying some shaved ice. You might even see some wild chickens while you’re there.

But of course, Kauai’s many gorgeous beaches are its main attraction. The island’s natural beauty and laid back attitude make it a natural destination for beach lovers everywhere. Regardless of whether you’re interested in swimming, water sports, beach combing, or simply lying in the sun, Kauai has you covered.

Here is a sample of what Kauai has to offer when it comes to amazing beaches.

14 Best Beaches in Kauai

1. Hanalei Bay

Hanalei Bay
Flickr Credit: throgers

Hanalei Bay is two miles long, making it the longest beach on Kauai’s northern shore. It is also one the island’s most popular beaches. Countless tourists come here every year to enjoy its fine sand and gorgeous landscapes.

Hanalei Bay is also a popular spot for surfers, especially in the winter time. This is true for both amateur and experienced surfers alike. There’s also a shipwreck on the ocean floor that’s become a major attraction for divers.

Related article: The Best Beaches of Maui

2. Poipu Beach

Poipu Beach
Flickr Credit: Jenni Konrad

Poipu Beach is not only the most popular beach on the southern shore of Kauai, it was also voted as the best beach in America by the Travel Channel. This is partially because the beach is separated into two section. One of these is great for families with small children while the other is ideal for water sports.

The tombola which separates the two bays is a good place to watch the Hawaiian monk seals taking a nap. Poipu also has all the modern amenities that a person might expect. There are restrooms, showers, and lifeguards who are on duty seven days a week.

3. Tunnels Beach

Tunnels Beach
Flickr Credit: chris.murphy

Tunnels is one of Kauai’s best beaches for snorkelers and scuba divers. The coral reefs and underwater caves from which it gets its name make it a diver’s dream come true. It’s also a popular spot for surfing, swimming, and windsurfing.

It can be difficult to find parking on this beach. The best thing to do is park at the nearby Haena Beach and walk. However, its golden beaches and mountainous landscape make it well worth the trip.

Related article: The Best Beaches of Guatemala

4. Ke’e Beach

 Ke’e Beach
Flickr Credit: Janzster’s View

Ke’e Beach has been featured in many famous Hollywood movies such as Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End because of its stunning, picturesque beauty. It’s a favorite place for photographers for the same reason. You’re not going to find a more beautiful place than this.

Another unique aspect of Ke’e Beach is the number of wild chickens who have made it their home. It’s an unusual site that you have to see for yourself. However, be aware that parking can be difficult to find after 10 AM.

5. Anini Beach

Anini Beach
Flickr Credit: Devilish Wahoo

Despite not having a lifeguard on duty, Anini Beach is considered one of the safest beaches in Kauai. This is because it’s protected by a long coral reef that stretches across the entire two-mile coastline. It’s also less crowded than some of the more popular beaches on this list.

Anini is a great spot for water sports such as swimming, surfing, and diving. You can also go camping on the beach with a permit. This is a great idea is you’ve always wanted to sleep beside the ocean.

Related article: The Best Beaches of Bali

6. Shipwreck Beach

Shipwreck Beach
Flickr Credit: Seth Heckman

Shipwreck Beach got its name from the presence of an old wooden ship that has since sunk into the ocean. This beach is not ideal for swimming due to its strong currents. However, it makes up for it by being one of the island’s most beautiful and romantic beaches.

Another reason to visit this beach is because of its easy access to the lithified sand dunes of Makawehi Point. This is a beautiful natural attraction that’s sacred to the native Hawaiians. Shipwreck Beach is also the best way to reach the Mahaulepu Heritage Trail, one of the best hiking trails in Hawaii.

7. Lydgate Beach

Lydgate Beach
Flickr Credit: Ben…!

Lydgate Beach is part of the Lydgate State Park and can be found on the eastern side of the island. This beach is a great place for families with small children. Along with the beach itself, it features the Kalamani Playground where kids can play on slides, swings, and monkey bars.

Lydgate Beach also has two small ponds where tropical fish swim in from the ocean. This is great for those who enjoy spotting rare fish. Its calm waters and lifeguards also make it a safe place to learn how to surf or snorkel.

8. Kalapaki Beach

Kalapaki Beach
Flickr Credit: llin98

Despite being one of the best beaches on the east coast, Kalapaki Beach is still somewhat unknown. This is actually a good thing, as it means you can enjoy the beach in relative peace and quiet. It’s partially protected by a large break wall which makes it a safe place for water sports.

You can also find the Kalapaki Beach Hut on the southern end of the beach. This is a good place to pick up some shaved ice and picnic with a few friends. On top of this, Kalapaki Beach offers surfing lessons all year round.

9. Kekaha Beach

Kekaha Beach
Flickr Credit: Kayla Stevenson

Located on the western side of the island, Kekaha Beach is known for being the longest stretch of white, sandy beach in Hawaii. It’s a good spot for beachcombing or watching the sunset. You can also see the rock islands of Niihau and Lehua from here. Furthermore, it’s a popular spot among local fishermen and surfers.

Kekaha Beach is also the last beach on the westside of the island that has a lifeguard. Its accommodations include restrooms, showers, and picnic areas.

10. Salt Pond Beach Park

Salt Pond Beach Park
Flickr Credit: Janzster’s View

Named for the natural wetlands that were once used to produce salt, Salt Pond Beach is another beach that’s fun for the whole family. It’s safe for swimming thanks to its posted lifeguard and natural reefs that keep the waters calm. It also has shallow pools that are good for teaching young children how to snorkel.

On the east side of the beach, you can find tide pools which can be used for observing marine life. There are also natural salt ponds nearby. However, keep in mind that these ponds are restricted to native Hawaiians only.

11. Haena Beach

Haena Beach
Flickr Credit: Wally Gobetz

Haena Beach is one of the most picturesque beaches in Kauai. It’s a place where white sands meet gorgeous blue waters. The stunning Mount Makana can also be seen towering in the background.

Haena Beach is also like two different beaches in one depending on the season. During the spring and summer, the waters are calm and good for swimming and snorkeling. During the winter, the waters become wild. This makes it a favorite spot for expert surfers who are looking for a challenge.

12. Anahola Beach

Anahola Beach
Flickr Credit: Angelika Parker

Anahola Beach is a good place for those looking to get away from the stress of city life, except on the weekends when it becomes quite busy. Despite being in a relatively tucked away location, it’s still easy to drive there and find parking.

The waters are safe thanks to its protective coral reefs. This makes swimming, snorkeling and surfing enjoyable activities throughout the entire year. The beautiful Kalalea Mountains can also be seen from here. This beach offers all the necessary amenities such as restrooms, picnic tables, and even camping facilities.

Related article: The Best Beaches of Oregon

13. Kealia Beach

Kealia Beach
Flickr Credit: SlyChels

Kealia Beach is known for its strong currents and wild wind swells. This makes it popular among surfers looking to catch some waves. The waters are a bit more calm on the northern end of the beach, making it an ideal place for swimming and boogie boarding. However, be careful about where you enter the water at this beach.

Kealia Beach is also known to be good place for whale watching. The Kapaa Coastal Path which runs alongside the beach is the best place for this activity. If you’ve ever wanted to see these majestic beasts up close, this is the place to do it.

14. Polihale Beach

Polihale Beach
Flickr Credit: Dan

At seventeen miles long, Polihale Beach is easily the longest beach in Hawaii. Although part of it is occupied by a military base, it still has a lot to offer for beach lovers. Its sand dunes and long stretch of white sandy beach make it excellent for beachcombers and shell collectors.

Polihale Beach is also a good place to check out the cliffs of the Na Pali Coast. This is where the Hawaiians believe the souls of the dead go to depart to the next world. However, be aware that this beach’s strong currents and lack of lifeguards make it dangerous for swimming.

These are some of the Oceanside adventures that await you in Kauai. Of course, don’t forget to take into account the time of year you’ll be visiting when you book your trip. The conditions at each beach can vary depending on the season, so make sure you plan accordingly. Above all, stay safe and have fun.

Also check out: The Best Beaches in Bali


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