Best Kauai Beaches

What are the Best Beaches on Kauai? Well that depends what you’re looking for. Are you looking for seclusion, long walks, snorkeling, kid friendly or just the perfect mixture of sand and water to soak up some rays? The Garden Island of Kauai has more than just gardens. Kauai has more beach per coastline mile than any of the other Hawaiian Islands. Kauai is truly a beach-lover’s jackpot of pristine, soft, white sand – perfect for sunbathing, castle-building, shell hunting – beaches.

Best Beaches on Kauai


Haena Beach is simply put- a piece of heaven. Tropical jungle meets turquoise waters and white sand beaches. During the summer months Haena Beach Park offers good snorkeling, beach strolling and sunbathing. This beach has a backdrop that is very recognizable. Mount Makana (Bali Hai) looms mysteriously and offers a spectacular backdrop for sunsets and photo opportunities. Across the street from Haena Beach Park is the Maniniholo dry cave one of Kauai’s many natural attractions.

Mahaulepu Beach PoipuMahaulepu Beach is a special place all of its own. This is a treasured part of our Island heritage and the last stretch of beach on the south side that is not developed. This magical stretch of coastline is so deserving of preservation. To access this gem of a beach you must drive down a unpaved dirt road or hike the coast along the Mahaulepu Beach Heritage Trail. The trail begins at the east end of Shipwrecks beach and winds along a coastline of sand dunes, lava tubes, tide pools and stretches of white sand beaches perfect for beach combing.

salt-pond-best kauai beachesSalt Pond Beach Park on the West side of Kauai is often overlooked. Salt Pond has a number of protected shallow pools that offer great snorkeling. The water is generally quite clear here and the fringing reefs help keep the water fairly calm. Explore the tide-pools and discover additional Hawaiian marine life and always a beautiful spot for viewing a Kauai sunset. A lifeguard is posted here and you will find restrooms, showers and shade pavilions in the park. Adjacent to the beach park are the salt beds where only certain families are allowed to harvest the salt.

hanalei PierHanalei Bay  by far the most popular beach, especially with the 2011 filming of the movie “The Descendants” starring George Clooney used this as the backdrop and  filming location.The two mile long crescent shaped bay offers activities for the whole family. The center of the bay is known as Pavilions and is a popular beach for swimming, surfing and boogie boarding. Lifeguards man this section of the beach. A large pavilion, restrooms, showers and BBQ areas make this an easy spot for the whole family to enjoy a day at the beach. Visit Hanalei Bay in the summer, where sailboats from around the world anchor in the bay, on there last stop before heading back to the west coast from Mexico or the South Pacific.

Poipu Beach HonuPoipu Beach will satisfy a wide range of interest. The beach park is perfect for families with children of all ages. A fun playground structure sits above the shoreline and offers hours of fun. Across the street from the beach you will find food and a cool treat of Hawaiian shave ice and ice-cream. Adjacent to the beach park Brennecke’s Beach has exciting waves for boogie boarding. West of the park several beachfront hotels offer surfboard rentals and lessons as well as a nice place to sit and enjoy a meal while watching the sunset into the Pacific.

Polihale Sunset

Polihale Beach Park Definitely off the beaten path Polihale Beach is a magical place that offers a get away from it all vibe.   Best for beach walks and watching the sunset.


While each of the beaches on Kauai have their similarities, they also have their differences. Some are more apt for surfing, some for snorkeling, some for swimming or just a perfect place to relax and watch the the most remarkable sunsets. Seasonal weather fluctuations that Kauai experiences can cause drastic differences in the ocean’s conditions. As beautiful as the beaches are, it is extremely important to know about the particular beach you’re visiting before heading into the water. Always ask a lifeguard for the best place to swim and current water conditions.

During the summer season (May – October), North Shore beaches usually mild conditions where you can expect flat and small waves except for a few specific areas that are exposed to the trade wind waves. East Side beaches have pleasant trade-winds that blow fairly consistent off the water during the year and can create larger waves with accelerated trades. The south and west sides of Kauai side surf conditions during the summer bring larger waves and frequent swells creating a deceptively high and powerful surf.

During the winter months (November-April), the North Shore beaches experience a pretty consistent bombardment of huge, fairly dangerous swells. On Kauai’s East Side waves stay relatively similar to the summer months. The south side surf usually flattens out and the sunny weather and light trades offer great opportunities for snorkeling and beginning surf lessons.

Many of the beaches on Kauai are equipped with facilities – public restrooms, drinking water, showers, outdoor picnicking areas with nice tables, seating, waste and recycle receptacles, ample parking, and some with lunch and dining facilities within walking distance. Lifeguard beaches are located on each side the island. Of course you can explore a much more secluded shoreline, where facilities are non-existent, but a surrounding landscape gives you the feeling of being on an untouched tropical island paradise. Always use caution when exploring Kauai beaches.

4 replies
  1. Tanya
    Tanya says:

    Aloha Chris,

    Anini beach on the north shore or Poipu on the south side both offer great beaches with calm water for snorkeling this time of year.

  2. Chris
    Chris says:

    Hello, me and my partner live in NZ and we are making a trip to Hawaii from 17th-22nd April 2014. We plan to be in Kauai for 3 nights. We definitely plan to spend a day on Na Pali coast- either hiking or taking a boat trip.
    But for remaining 2 days, we are not sure which side of the island would be best to stay on at that time of the year? We want to stay somewhere we can find calm beautiful beach good for either swimming or snorkeling and also where we can be a beach bum. Either of us are not into surfing. So calm clear water and hopefully not too crowded beach to relax is what we are ideally looking for.

    It would be great if you can give us some suggestions. Thanks.

  3. Joel and Susan Coffman
    Joel and Susan Coffman says:

    We stay in Kaanapali on West Maui every year at the Aston Mahana, because we can walk right out to the beach from our room and go for a 2 mile beach walk down to black rock and back. Is there any place on Kauai that would be comparable to that? Can you recommend beaches and resorts that have ocean views and quick access to the beach?

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