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Kauai Beach Guide

The 10 Best Kauai Beaches To Discover In 2023

Last Updated on July 13, 2024 ⋅ Written by Vanessa Howard ⋅ Edited by Laura Schulthies

Kauai Beaches Guide: The Best Beach In Kauai
Kauai Beaches Guide: The Best Beach In Kauai

Welcome to Kauai

Discover some of the best beaches in the world on the beautiful island of Kauai. With over 63 miles of accessible shoreline, the beaches of the Garden Isle are known for their beautiful and dramatic landscapes. You’ll find miles of white sand with stunningly blue, crashing surf. These are clear seas perfect for swimming, surfing, or snorkeling. The abundant marine life of Kauai includes dolphins, humpback whales, sea turtles, and a variety of vibrant tropical fish. Whether searching for shells, snorkeling, or simply relaxing, Kauai has the perfect beach for you. Here is our guide to the best Kauai beaches.

Discover some of the best beaches in the world on the beautiful island of Kauai. With over 63 miles of accessible shoreline, the beaches of the Garden Isle are known for their beautiful and dramatic landscapes. You’ll find miles of white sand with stunningly blue, crashing surf. These are clear seas perfect for swimming, surfing, or snorkeling. The abundant marine life of Kauai includes dolphins, humpback whales, sea turtles, and a variety of vibrant tropical fish. Whether searching for shells, snorkeling, or simply relaxing, Kauai has the perfect beach for you. Here is our guide to the best Kauai beaches.

Kauai Map

Kauai Map

Kauai Beaches Guide: The Best Beach In Kauai

The Best Kauai Beaches

Kauai Beaches Guide: The Best Beach In Kauai
Kauai Beaches Guide: The Best Beach In Kauai

Poipu Beach

The star of Kauai’s South Shore, Poipu Beach, sits in a reef-protected area split into two different bays. Poipu Beach is a crescent-shaped strip of white sand lined with palm trees, backed by cliffs. Nearly 50 feet wide and a thousand feet long, the beach offers both excellent swimming conditions and good waves for boogie-boarding and surfing. You’ll find luxurious resorts and plenty of hotels in the area as well. The western side of Poipu Beach is commonly referred to as Baby Beach, which sits on a sandbar and is a favorite sunning spot for endangered Hawaiian monk seals. Baby Beach is the spot for you if you are looking for a bit of quiet relaxation. This is a favorite for those with young children, thanks to its shallow, calm water.

Beach Amenities: Public Parking, Public Restrooms, Picnic Area, Playground.

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Kauai Beaches Guide: The Best Beach In Kauai
Kauai Beaches Guide: The Best Beach In Kauai

Ke’e Beach

Ke’e Beach is located on the island’s north shore, and marks the trailhead of the infamous Kalalau Trail. This popular trail eventually extends into the breathtaking NaPali Coast State Wilderness Park. Ke’e Beach is also one of Kauai’s top snorkeling destinations, particularly during the calmer summer months. The protected reef is teeming with vibrant tropical fish. You can also find kayaking tours of the lagoon that provide spectacular views of the surrounding landscape. Ke’e Beach is unique due to its population of wild chickens, commonly known as wild roosters. These brightly colored birds dot the beach daily, but be aware that they will snatch your snacks if you give them the opportunity!

Beach Amenities: Entry Fee Required, Public Parking Fills Up Quickly, Public Restrooms, Public Showers, Lifeguards on Duty.

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Kauai Beaches Guide: The Best Beach In Kauai
Kauai Beaches Guide: The Best Beach In Kauai

Hanalei Bay

Hanalei Bay is a protected cove with extensive reefs on the sides and deeper water with higher waves in the center. Soft white sands line the crystal waters of this pristine two mile stretch of beach. There is something for everyone on this Kauai beach, from sunbathing to surfing to summer paddle boarding, kayaking, and canoeing. The protected reefs make this a fantastic snorkeling spot as well, and scuba divers can explore an old shipwreck on the sea floor. If you’re a fan of musicals, you may recognize Hanalei Bay as one of the filming locations from the 1965 musical, South Pacific.

Beach Amenities: Ample Public Parking, Public Restrooms, Public Showers, Lifeguard on Duty, Picnic Area, Seasonal Concessions, Kayak, Snorkel, and Boogie Board Rentals.

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Kauai Beaches Guide: The Best Beach In Kauai
Kauai Beaches Guide: The Best Beach In Kauai

Anini Beach

Those searching for Kauai’s calmest waters should consider Anini Beach. Thanks to a long reef that stretches over two miles along the shore, the waters here are perfect for easy swimming. Located near the Princeville resort area, you’ll find that Anini Beach is much less crowded than nearby beaches. This is an excellent beach for families who enjoy snorkeling and swimming, and more experienced divers can explore the Anini Reef. Windsurfing and paddle boarding are also popular here, but be careful to avoid venturing past the reef, where the currents become strong.

Beach Amenities: Public Parking, Public Restrooms, Public Showers, Boat Ramp, Picnic Area, Camping Allowed with Permit.

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Kauai Beaches Guide: The Best Beach In Kauai
Kauai Beaches Guide: The Best Beach In Kauai

Lydgate Beach

Lydgate Beach is one of the most family friendly beaches on the island of Kauai. This beach park is unique thanks to its rock enclosed pools. These ocean pools allow you to take a refreshing dip into the Pacific without being exposed to the ocean’s currents. Families will love the smaller ocean pool to the left. This is the perfect place for toddlers to swim, while the larger pool is excellent for children of all ages. Keep an eye out for the fish that swim in and out of the ocean pools.

Beach Amenities: Public Parking, Public Restrooms, Public Showers, Lifeguard on Duty, Ocean Swimming Pools, Picnic Area, Playground.

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Best Kauai Beach Guide
Best Kauai Beach Guide

Makua “Tunnels” Beach

If you enjoy snorkeling, diving or surfing, Tunnels Beach is the place for you. The beach has calm waters, thanks to the crescent-shaped coral reef that sits just offshore. Snorkelers can enjoy the stunning backdrop of mountains rising behind the beach as they explore a variety of marine life beneath the surface. The reef makes Tunnels Beach great for swimming during the summer, and a slow slope allows plenty of room for wading. Surfers can also enjoy the outermost portions of the reef, where waves are more prominent. There are plenty of shady spots and a few picnic tables for those wanting a break from the tropical Kauai sun.

Beach Amenities: Public Parking, Public Restrooms and Picnic Areas are available at nearby Haena Beach Park.

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Best Kauai Beach Guide
Best Kauai Beach Guide

Polihale Beach

This long, beautiful beach, with a view of the NaPali cliffs, is a must see Kauai beach. This is the final beach of the Napali Coast, and it’s guarded by the world’s tallest sea cliffs. Driving the road to the beach can be exciting and treacherous. Try to rent an SUV if visiting Polihale Beach is on your list. Keep in mind that a military base occupies over seven miles of the beach, making only 10 miles of sand accessible to the public. However, the view of NaPali’s cliffs makes it worth the drive to get there. Due to strong currents, this is not an ideal beach for swimming, and no lifeguards are on duty. However, you can enjoy the tranquility of the wide open space while picnicking or camping. This is also an excellent place for a long romantic walk or an epic technicolor Kauai sunset.

Beach Amenities: Limited Amenities on site. Amenities are available at nearby Polihale State Park including Public Parking, Public Restrooms, Public Showers, Picnic Area, and a Campground.

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Kauai Beaches Guide: The Best Beach In Kauai
Kauai Beaches Guide: The Best Beach In Kauai

Shipwreck Beach

Located in Poipu, Shipwreck Beach is named after an old wooden ship that sank off the coast of Kauai. Swimming is not advised at this beach due to strong currents and high surf. However, the raw natural beauty of the scenery, romantic atmosphere and seclusion make up for the lack of swimming. Take a walk on the Mahaulepu Heritage Trail that leads to the top of the cliffs for a fantastic view of Shipwreck Beach. You’ll find the trail on the far left end of the beach facing the ocean. One of Shipwreck Beach’s main highlights is its proximity to Makawehi Point, a beautiful, lithified dune. Keep an eye out for some of Kauai’s most endangered flora and fauna along this historic trail.

Beach Amenities: Public Parking, Public Restrooms, Public Showers, Picnic Area.

Stay Nearby! Explore Kauai hotels on TripAdvisor

Kauai Beaches Guide: The Best Beach In Kauai
Kauai Beaches Guide: The Best Beach In Kauai

Haena Beach

The beautiful golden sand of Haena Beach offers stunning views of Mount Makana (Bali Hai) and is a popular spot for watersports. Enjoy surfing, camping, or simply relaxing while you spend time along Kauai’s famed North Shore. Summertime is the best time to snorkel at this famous beach when the waves are calm enough to accommodate all levels of snorkelers. During the winter, Haena Beach typically has hazardous conditions with strong currents and big surf. However, that makes for some first-class surfing, making it an excellent spot to watch the pro surfers practice. It is advised that only advanced surfers attempt to catch a wave here.

Beach Amenities: Public Parking, Public Restrooms, Public Showers, Lifeguard on Duty, Picnic Area.

Stay Nearby! Explore Kauai hotels on TripAdvisor

Kauai Beaches Guide: The Best Beach In Kauai
Kauai Beaches Guide: The Best Beach In Kauai

Hanakapiai Beach

You’ll find this hidden gem along the Kalalau Trail. This is one of the most exciting and intense hikes you can do on the island of Kauai. You don’t have to hike the entire 11-mile trail to experience Hanakapiai Beach, as it is about two miles down the trail. This beach is strewn with boulders and tucked amid the folds of the jungle-covered NaPali Coast. A river flows to the sea here, creating freshwater rocky pools where hikers can relax under waterfalls while taking in views of the epic waves. Keep in mind that the water can be very rough, especially during the winter months. Swimming at Hanakapiai Beach is not advised. The adventurous spirit required to get to the beach makes it one of the most spectacular beaches on Kauai.

Beach Amenities: No Amenities Available, No Road Access.

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