Anahola Beach Park is a local favorite because it has something suitable for everyone. It’s located on the east shore of Kauai. Many believe this is the safest beach on the windward coast of Kauai. White sand shores are protected from high surf by a reef. The ocean bottom has a few pockets of sand, so kids can swim here. There is a surf break at the outer edge of the reef providing for calmer waters.
This quiet, beautiful beach goes for miles along a coastline protected by an extensive offshore reef. Anini Beach is well known as one of the safest and most protected beaches along the North Shore. This is because of a 2 mile long fringed reef runs the length of beach and is Hawaii’s longest reef. The beach access road is sometimes so close to the water that you could almost jump in from your car! Find your own little piece of paradise by meandering past the main entrance of the beach park and campground facility and pull off along the side of the road where you see a small, private beach.
You can catch glimpses of expensive homes on the bluff above and water front of this beach. Anini is popular among windsurfers and campers. Follow the link for more information on camping and getting permits for overnight camping. The offshore reef creates a peaceful lagoon in most conditions and you can usually watch windsurfers from the shore. Windsurfing lessons are available from a few companies.
Take Anini road through the residential area all the way to the western end and you will find a sandbar that extends way out into the ocean. This is a great spot for wading or fishing. Children like the calm water here and there are lots of very tiny sea shells right along the waterline.
Many of the homes you see along Anini road are vacation rentals, so check here if you are looking for a quiet north shore rental. The sale prices are high but vacation rental rates are sometimes reasonable.
In some places where the water is shallow snorkeling can be very good. However it will depend on visibility and conditions. Pole, spear and throw-net fishing is also done off shore here, in addition to sea weed harvesting. The beach also has a boat launch.
In the summer this beach makes a great spot for sunset dinners, or just a relaxing spot to site and view the evening. It’s usually empty in the evening and you can watch the big sun fade into the golden water.
This beach used to be called Wanini. There are two theories on how the W was lost. Some claim the W simply fell of the sign and others believe a local irate resident shot off the W with a shotgun, reveling what he believed to be the correct name, Anini Beach.
At the far west end of the beach, across the channel is Wyllie Beach.
This small, narrow beach was given it’s name because it’s both small, and calm. In Hawaiian, this beach is known as Ho’ona Beach. The very shallow waters are protected by large rocks, so the waves are usually small. Since the waters are shallow, wading (or sitting) is about all you can do in the water, depending on tide levels. It’s usually not crowded and access is easy. Parking is limited but usually adequate on the road.
This beach is one of the only Kauai beaches without a Hawaiian name. This beach used to have a large black pot that was used to cook fish for celebrations. This is how it got it’s name. Black Pot Beach is part of the Hanalei Bay beaches and is packed with locals every weekend. You will see tents and tarps setup for picnics, fires and BBQs. Further up from the water, there is a large grass lawn area with picnic tables and shade for relaxing. Behind this grass area there are places you can rent surfboards and stand up paddle boards. The mouth of the Hanalei River feeds into the ocean at this beach.
Access to this beach is a breeze as you can drive right up on the beach. Many locals back up their trucks and cars to set up a day camp on the beach.
Sunsets at this beach are a popular evening activity. The beautiful backdrop of the pier and the surrounding mountains make it mystical and wonderful. Watching the sun set over the ocean here, is truly amazing. Back your car or truck right up to the ocean, pull out a few chairs and eat dinner, desert or share a drink here. It’s free, and arguably beats the view from any restaurant in the area. Please make sure to keep the beach clean by picking up your trash.
Kids love this beach and you’ll see them playing in the water here why their parents socialize and BBQ dinner with other locals.
This beach is next to Poipu Beach on Kauai’s south shore. Brennecke’s Beach is a small sandy cove right off the road and is popular for body boarding. The waves are pretty consistent here and break both close and further from the shore which suits both beginning and advanced body boarders. Surfing is not allowed near the shore so body boarders don’t have to compete for waves with surfers.
There is not much room for other beach activities, but mom and dad, friends or your spouse can catch some rays as they watch from the shore. There is no lifeguard, so it’s nice to have someone keeping an eye on you. This beach is also a short walk from Poipu Beach, which is packed on nearly all days of the week. Split your time between the calm waters of Poipu and the waves at Brennecke’s without moving the car.
You can drive by and get a good feel for the waves without leaving your car. If the waves are good, don’t waste any time, get your fins, sunblock and board and hit the water. The waves can be epic, however, be careful to watch for fellow wave riders, since it can it crowded. Also steer clear of the rocks to the right of the beach, as the sandy shore is a much more forgiving landing area after a long amazing body board ride.
It’s very common to see turtles. In fact sometimes it’s a challenge to make sure you don’t bump into them, or catch their wave (kidding about their wave). Sea turtles hang out among the body boarders, and sometimes will surprise you when they surface.
Make sure to grab hold of your gear. If you loose a fin or a wedding ring, there is no chance you’ll get them back.
Facilities: Head on over to nearby Poipu Beach Park for showers, restrooms and more.
This is mainly a surf break, called Cannons and the beach right in front of it. Cannons Beach is just past Haena Beach Park on Kauai’s north shore. This beach isn’t suitable for swimming but is a popular surfing beach for more experienced surfers. This beach has no facilities, but a short walk to Haena Beach Park, and you will have showers, restrooms and more.
You will find very few if anyone on the beach at this spot. The action is in the water. Look careful and when there is surf, you can watch surfers riding the waves on the adjacent break. Really, this is just the strip of sand in front of a popular north shore surf break.
Today, Donkey Beach continues to be visited as a good beach for sunbathing. It is not excellent for swimming or snorkeling since the water is choppy and rough. When conditions are good, surfers and bodyboarders can be seen at the beach. Because of its popularity, Donkey Beach is no longer as secluded as it had been years ago.
The beach has been referred to as Donkey Beach for a long time. The official name is Paliku, however it is also called Kuna Beach and Kumukumu Beach. It was nicknamed Donkey Beach after the mules that were present in a pasture nearby used for hauling cane (some claim there were never any Donkey’s near the beach, just mules).
To get to the beach requires about a 15 minute walk from the parking area.
Glass Beach isn’t mentioned in most guidebooks, and there are no signs directing drivers to it, but it can be a bonanza for collectors of sea glass. The shoreline of Glass Beach is covered with millions of brown, aqua, clear and blue sea glass pebbles.
The glass found at Glass Beach was mainly from broken bottles and auto glass dumped by Swiss Cheese Shoreline on the western end of Kauai.
Glass Beach is best for beach combing only. Please don’t take any of the glass, leave it for others like you to enjoy for many years. This beach is easy to find, just look for the large tanks of gasoline near Port Allen. A tip for husbands: make sure to bring a comfortable chair when visiting this beach with your spouse.
The beach at Haena has beautiful golden sand and panoramic views, but visitors are urged to use extreme caution when swimming here.
Green vegetated sand dunes line the backshore of the beach and trees fronting the beach provide plenty of shady places to relax. Just across the road from the beach is the Maniholo Dry Cave which is fun to explore. A short walk along the beach to the east from Haena Beach leads to Tunnels beach which has great snorkeling.
You may see backpackers at Haena Beach Park before they begin their journey to the Kalalau Valley. This valley is reached by hiking the Na Pali Coast trail that begins at the end of the road about one mile west of the park near Ke’e Beach.
Hanakapiai Beach is nestled in the Napali Coast and accessible mainly via the Kalalau Trail. It’s is approximately 2 miles from the start of the Kalalau Trail, however beware it’s not for novice hikers. At the beach you can take another trail to Hanakapiai Falls, a fantastic waterfall or continue on along the famous Kalalau.
The natural geography makes Hanakapiai conditions even more hazardous; in the event that one gets caught in a rip current (or otherwise swept out to sea) the nearest safe shore area is approximately six miles away. The currents in the region are so powerful that the bodies of at least 15 drowning victims have yet to be recovered. It’s simply not recommended to do anything that involves getting in the water at this beach.
This small pocket beach sits at the center of a large cove with a low, flat, rock shelf fronting the rest of the beach. Behind the beach are the highest sand dunes on the south shore. Adding to the rugged beauty of the area, waves have cut jagged edges, spires and caves into the lithified dunes and sea cliffs.
The rocky offshore bottom and surf preclude swimming in the cove. This shoreline is prized for its beauty and solitude. The beach is occasionally visited by fishermen, trail riders from CJM Stables and Hawaiian monk seals looking for a quiet place to rest.
The Hawaii name of this beach is Kenomene Beach, but it’s usually just called Hideaways Beach, or the Pali Ke Kua Beach. However, Pali Ke Kua beach is considered by us as a separate beach because access is different. But they are connected by a large rock outcropping, so you can swim between them easily. Hideaways isn’t so hidden nowadays, but it’s still a great Princeville beach to visit. Hideaways Beach is near Pali Ke Kau Condos and the St. Regis Resort in Princeville. Beware, to get to this beach you must hike down a steep rocky path. There are metal hand rails and ropes, and you will need them (however beware of sharp rusty edges). On the other side of the handrails are deep drop offs. But all this work is worth the reward. When muddy, take extra time getting down, it is slippery.
You can’t hike, boat or drive to this beach! Swimming is your only means of access.
This beach is to the east of Lumahai Beach and by many is incorrectly referred to as Lumahai Beach or East Lumahai. However, it’s technically a different beach called Kahalahala, which means Pandanus Trees in Hawaiian. It was made famous by the movie South Pacific.
When surf is high, dark black lava rocks create a waterfall effects as the surf breaks and recedes over the outcropping. The beach is a crescent of golden sand with views of Bali Hai. Swimming here is not safe unless ocean conditions allow. Strong currents, fierce waves, and unbelievable backwash make the water here unsafe most of the time.
Some snorkeling can be done here, if conditions allow. It is fairly deep, so skin diving is best to get a good view of the underwater life. Towards the inside of the rock outcropping, the water is much calmer and shallow. This area is usually crowded with kids and youngsters enjoying the push and pull of the ocean. However be careful, only on the summer’s calmest days is swimming recommended.
At the end of the rock outcropping, a black rock cliff stands 20 feet or so above the white water and rushing ocean. You may see brave swimmer jumping in here. It’s entertaining to watch from the shore, but very unsafe as this area has many unseen undertows, hidden rocks and large waves.
Be careful standing on rocks near the ocean, as large waves can knock you off and take you out to sea.
A rock outcropping separates this beach from Lumahai Beach, however, many consider it all one beach. The surf conditions are just as dangerous at Lumahai.
Near the parking pull off area, there is a path that leads to a lookout that is great for photo opportunities, overlooking Lumahai and Kahalahala Beach.
This beach also known as Kahili Beach or Rock Quarry Beach, is easily identifiable because of the nearby Kilauea River and rock quarry. It’s no longer a working quarry, but is still fun to explore. The beach has a large calm area which is great for swimming, but can be a bit murky. Opposite the pool is a good snorkeling spot. This beach can be a popular surfing and body boarding spot when the surf is up.
You will find this beach after a 11 mile hike along the Kalalau Trail on the Napali Coast. This beach is fairly private due to the difficult trek to it. You can also get to this beach via boat, which is fairly commonly done via Kayaks (with a permit). It is not legal to get out of or land a motorized boat on the beach, however, it is done illegally. The one way price from Hanalei Bay is usually $75-100 and requires swimming a short distance to the boat.
Nearby there is a waterfall, that can be used to rinse off or bathe in. Make sure to use the correct filter if you plan to drink the water.
The white sands and gentle waters of Kalapaki Beach are ideal for sunning, swimming, and sailing. Kalapaki Beach also is the home of the Kauai Marriott Resort & Beach Club, and Kauai Lagoons 40 acres of freshwater tropical lagoons that serve as a sanctuary for exotic wildlife.
Often there are local families here for picnics and fishing. The shoreline is covered with active and lithified sand dunes. Waves have deeply undercut the sea cliffs below the dunes. A small mushroom-shaped sea stack projects above a shallow reef next to the outer point.
Ke’e Beach is one of the most visited beaches on Kauai. It’s located at the north end of the island where the highway ends and in fact is the last beach accessible by car on the north shore. So it’s literally located at the end of the road. The famed 11 mile gorgeous and treacherous Kalalau Trail begins at the western end of the beach. Ke’e’s gentle ocean lagoon is best utilized in the calm ocean conditions of the summer. Several movies and min-series have been filmed here such as The Thorn Birds and Castaway Cowboys. A view of the entire Na Pali coast stretches westwards from this point.
Once the town of Kealia was a thriving plantation town, with a train depot and at the nearby landing an inter-island steamer would stop for passengers. Little is left today except a post office, store and of course a large beach. The word kealia means “salt encrusted”. Also, nearly every Hawaiian Island has a beach or stretch of sand called Kealia.
A great place to take toddlers and babies is Keiki Cove just down the road from Lawai Beach. In Hawaiian Keiki means children. A small strip of white sand, this little cove and beach are rarely used, have ample parking across the street, and have lava rock steps for easy access. Its shallow water and typically small lapping waves are perfect for the little one to learn about the ocean. Older kids will find all the tide pools fascinating. Adultsâ€¦please be sure to always check the water before allowing kids to play.
Kekaha is a private long white sand beach is is popular fishing spot also well known for great sunsets and beach combing. This is officially the longest stretch of white sand in the state of Hawaii. From this beach there is a view of Niihau Island and Lehua rock. This beach is usually sunny, and is the last life guarded beach on the west side. This beach can have strong wind at times.
Kiahuna Beach is a section near the popular Poipu Beach, right in front of Kiahuna Plantation Condos and the Sheraton Resort. Poipu Beach park is on one site and Brennecke’s Beach is on the other. Not to be confused Brennecke’s Beach on the other side. This beach is sometimes also called Sheraton Beach, or by mistake Poipu Beach. It may seem private due to the nature of nearby resorts, but it’s not.
The waters tend to be very rough, not suitable for kids despite some off shore reefs. Strong swimmers and snorkelers generally do fine. For experienced surfers or body boarders, try the breaks near the Sheraton Resort. Watch out for rouge “sneakers”, waves that come out of the blue and crash with amazing force. In this case you may end up on rocks.
This beach is a popular beach for beginner surfers, snorkelers and body boarders. You may see others getting first time lessons. The water is usually fairly clam inside the reef. Outside the reef surfers ride the waves, and the water gets much more chopping. This beach doesn’t have shade, but you can bring an umbrella to stay out of the sun.
There is rocky outcropping at the west end calls Cowshead, and the nearby surf break called First Break is known to be extremely challenging even for experts. You’ll find another expert spot on the end of the beach near the Marriott Waihoai Beach Club, with large swells when conditions are right.
It’s easiest to park at Poipu Beach Park.
This is a very small beach but also as mall boat harbor that is popular with both recreational and commercial boaters. At the back of the harbor is a sheltered, sandy beach. However most of the sand came from somewhere else. This was one of the conditions imposed by Kauai County on the Kukuiâ€˜ula Development Co. before they could build a planned resort and residential development was to improve the beach at the harbor. This planned luxury resort is just up the road towards Kolo’a.
Larsen’s Beach is also known as Ka’aka’aniu Beach and is a remote and undeveloped north shore beach. This beach is between Moolaa Bay and Waiakalua Beach. The beach is narrow and approximately two miles long. There is a offshore reef that is good for snorkeling and because the beach is remote, you may see some nude sunbathers.
More Information on Larsen’s Beach
This beach backs up to the Allerton Garden, or sometimes called the National Botanical Garden and is a breathtaking view of the south. Sunsets are great here. Access is tricky as you have to cross private property in order to access the beach. You can also kayak from the Kukui’ula Harbor which is only about a mile east.
This beach fronts the Lawai Beach Resort and the Beach House Restaurant. Sometimes this is called the Beach House Beach. The Beach House restaurant is reason enough to visit this beach. But make sure you make reservations far in advance of your trip and try to time your meal with the sunset, they are amazing.
This is just a small pull out along the end of Anini Beach past the Anini Beach Park. It has parking on either side of the road, and isn’t much of a beach, but rather a collection of rocks and sand shaded by some large trees. You’ll know you found it when you see the tsumani warning tower, and if you see the Private Road sign, you know you went too far.
Usually the road isn’t as bad in this spot, and parking is available. However it’s such a small beach, there isn’t room for many people. If you find it full, walk down the beach in either direction (or road) to find another sandy spot to park your chair. There is a slight current taking you down towards Wyllie Beach, but rarely is strong in the summer months.
It’s a fun place for kids, they can explore the rocks, and there is usually plenty of sand to dig in. There is a lot of shade, so depending on time of the day, you may not have much sun. Also this area can be windy, as much of Anini Beach is, but waters are typically calm.
This portion of Lumahai Beach usually has plenty of parking (less if you have a sedan) and is right off the highway. The Lumahai Stream, on the left, is sometimes cut off from the ocean during the summer due to large deposits of sand. In this case, cooling off in the fresh water of the stream is an option. Kids love to play in the shallow and safe parts of the stream.
Large waves crash against a rocky bluff and send salty ocean spray into the air. It’s quite a sight to see. Walking on this beach is not without effort as the shoreline is steep and the sand a bit course. There is a small cave in the base of the cliff with nice sand, a great spot for wave watching.
Parking can be tricky here, since it’s not a parking lot, just a parking area. Watch for ruts and large roots.
On the east side of the rock out cropping is Kahalahala Beach, many times referred to as Lumahai Beach as well, however technically it’s not the same beach. To get to Kahalahala Beach park up the road, and take a short path down to the water.
The beach offers protection from the surf in parts and can be great for swimming. Fossils of extinct birds have been found in sand dunes along the shoreline.
Mahaulepu Beach is great spot for exploring. The water is usually calm due to a protective reef and shallow water. The name Mahaulepu means “falling together,” as in two warriors falling in battle.
When King Kamehameha attempted to invade Kauai in 1796, many of his war canoes were sunk during a storm in the channel between Oahu and Kauai. However, a few managed to land here on the beach. The warriors who made it to shore were exhausted. Kauai’s defenders caught them sleeping near their canoes just before dawn, and slaughtered all but a few. Those who escaped, fearful of facing Kamehameha’s wrath, paddled all the way to the Big Island.
There are two legal kayak landing areas along the coast. This is one of them! Kayak landings are prohibited at all other beaches in the park, including Honopu and Nu’alolo Kai.
Kayaking also affords you a camping option not available to hikers. Beyond Kalalau Valley, there are several valleys and offshore reefs. Milolii Valley is accessible by boat only, and camping is allowed here during the summer months. Permits are required to stay overnight. However, day use landings are allowed during the summer (May 15 through Labor Day) without a permit. Milolii has a channel through the reef facilitating boat landings on the sand beach.
The only way in here is by boat! Arrange to have a commercial boat operator to drop you off and pick you up.
Nomilu Fishpond is bordered by Palama Beach. it is one of the largest fishponds in Hawaii and was created by a volcanic cinder cone (called Nomilu Cone). It’s over 20 acres. Nomilu Fishpond is actually a natural saltwater lake fed by natural springs, which turns the water brackish. However the water rises and falls with the tide. The fishpond was famous throughout Hawaii and the mullet raised there was said to be especially delicate. For some reason mullet would not reproduce in this pond, so they had to be stocked as fry.
The Palama family has owned the fishpond for many years and has lent their name to the nearby beach. They maintain the pond as family recreation area.
This beach is best known for it’s surf break known as infinities. The nickname was given because the waves seem to ride “forever”. The water is murky very silty, and the beach itself it muddy and not desirable for swimming.
Pilaa Beach is a sparsely visited beach. It is difficult to access and since the nearshore ocean bottom is rocky, it’s not a good beach for swimming. The beach is a good spot to just relax without the crowds, but since the trail to it is rocky, it’s even challenging to bring a picnic basket.
Poipu literally means “crashing waves” in Hawaiian. Poipu beach park is also sometimes confused with Sheraton Beach or Kiahuna Beach or Brennecke’s Beach but is actually just the Beach Park area. This beach is located near the southern-most tip of Kauai and is a family favorite for calm, safe and friendly beach. The beaches in this area are favorites for snorkeling and scuba diving. Water is shallow here and hard to swim in some areas. Surfing can be seen off the western break, and is close enough to watch from the shore. Overall you’ll find shallow gentle waters great for beginners right near the shore.
This is certainly the south shore’s busiest beach and the space is compact, so you will be very close to your fellow sun seekers. With parking, facilities and nearby resorts, this beach is most likely packed any day of the week but always on weekends. You can always enjoy a picnic on the nearby grass area and tables, check out the children’s playground and covered pavilions.
A protruding sand bar with rocks is a neat place to explore. However watch for crashing waves.
This beach consistently receives national and worldwide awards and is know for it’s calm waters. But pack a lunch, food choices are limited, and there aren’t many options.
This beach is a favorite for surfers. When the water is calm, snorkeling can be really nice (usually in the winter). Shore is small and narrow and thus not a good beach for shore activities. Some times of the year the sand is nearly all under water. However it’s a great place to sit for a while and watch surfers catch a few waves.
This isn’t as much a beach, as a parking and landing location for surfer catching waves on the break known as PK’s. This break runs from PK’s beach to the Lawai Beach. The best place to watch surfers is from the Beach House Lawn, just along the sidewalk from Lawai Beach.
Pu’u Poa Beach is mainly used by guests of the St. Regis Princeville Resort and the Hanalei Bay Resort. Hanalei Bay Resort guests can take the steep and paved path that leads to the beach (or use the resort’s shuttle). Guests of the St. Regis Princeville Resort can take the elevator to the ground level and you are there! If you’re not a guest at either one of the two resorts, you take the almost 200 steps that start near the public parking lot. This public lot is located near the entrance of the St. Regis Princeville Resort on the right. Pu’u Poa Beach is the longest beach near the St. Regis Resort as it extends from the hotel all the way down to the Hanalei River. When the tide is low, a sandbar appears extending from the river to Black Pot Beach.
You will most likely see swarms of snorkelers out and about, however, we haven’t had good luck at this beach. It’s usually very shallow in summer months, and leaves little room for fish or aquatic life to see. If you get further out, you may have better luck, but beware the currents of Hanalei Bay. Since it’s shallow and near the mouth of the Hanalei River, it can be pretty murky.
The view from this beach is hard to beat. Looking over the famous Bali Hai point and lush mountains just doesn’t get old. You can also rent paddle boards, and other surf apparatus from the St. Regis staff by the pool.
An offshore reef protects the beach, making it generally safe for swimming. The reef, however, is not enough barrier for the beach from winter swells.
During winter international surfers flock to Pu’u Poa Beach. The ocean water that breaks against the outer edge of the reef close to Hanalei River provides some of the best surf rides on Kauai.
The path drops roughly 100 feet as you decent down to the coast. You’ll need to hike down the overgrown red dirt trail to cove.
On the way down, take note of the waterfall to the right, a perfect resting point to cool off on the return climb back up.
Along the path to Queen’s bath you’ll see interesting rocks in the associated stream. There are many spots along this trail to stop and take pictures of the waterfall and the stream. Because Queen’s bath has become so popular expect to run across other people along the path.
Also, make sure you’re wearing good footwear. Bare feet or aqua socks won’t provide enough support as you walk across the lava rock to Queen’s bath.
When the trail opens at the bottom of the bluff the cove in front of you is a great spot to watch sea turtles in the surf. The reef area is coated with algae which draws the turtles to the cove.
From this cove, go left and carefully negotiate the lava rock roughly 250 yards to find Queen’s Bath.
The views of the ocean and the rocky shoreline here are excellent and even with calm surf, you’ll see waves crash on the rocks shooting spray high into the air.
- Good Footwear (for rock hoping)
Salt Pond Beach Park is a wide, reddish-golden sand pocket beach that is generally safe for swimming all year round. As mentioned at both ends of the beach are rocky outcrops; a natural rock ridge connects the outcrops, creating a small lagoon. This pool-like area is where families with toddlers usually swim. The beach is usually safe for swimming, except during times of high surf, when rip currents form in the channels between the ridge.
Sea Lodge Beach is calm and fairly private, and is also known as Kaweonui Beach. Getting here requires about a half mile hike through a moderate and sometimes slippery trail. It’s well worth the short hike. This beach has great sand, shade and calm water. Large Hala and Kamane trees offer great shade and this beach is usually not crowded, due to limited parking.
This beach is perhaps more well known by it’s nickname, Secret Beach but in Hawaiian is known as Kauapea Beach. However, many locals simply call this beach Secrets for short. This 3,000 foot long north shore beach is known for its size, privacy, and scenery. Secret beach is between Kalihiwai Bay and Kilauea Point and is accessed by a steep trail which is of course, not marked. This beach is great because it’s so large and vast, that many times you feel like you are one of the only people there. Keep walking down the beach until you find a spot that suits you, and enjoy this beach. Beware, the further down you march the more likely you are to be in the unofficial clothing optional section of Secret Beach.
You can see Secrets from the nearby Kilauea Lighthouse (nearby Kilauea Bay and Kahili Beach). The ocean at Secret Beach tends to be rough and is subject to extremely strong currents, especially in the winter. It’s sometimes swimable during the summer, but seldom suitable for novice swimmers. In additinon, walking on the lava rocks to the left of Secret Beach is only safe on the calmest summer days and when the surf report calls for small waves less than 2 ft high. When conditions allow you will find neat tidal pools known as Secret Lagoons. This rocky coastline leads to a beautiful waterfall as well.
Secret Beach Waterfall and Lagoons
Tidal lagoons form on the west end of the beach offering a kind of kiddie pool. Also half way down the beach to the east (right) is a waterfall. It varies in volume with weather, but usually has at least a trickle of fresh water and a small pool It’s a great spot to rinse off your gear, or body after getting salty and sandy. At the base of the waterfall is a small pool (sometimes not much more than a puddle) which can be a nice freshwater area to sit in and cool off.
Secret beach has a reputation of being one of Kauai’s nude and clothing optional beaches, although it’s rare to see more than a couple people without clothing. This has now become Kauai’s premier nude beach, although Kauai County authorities sometimes attempt to enforce the nudity ban (posting notices). Most of the topless and nude sun bathers use the far east side of the beach. So if you venture that far down the beach prepare to dress accordingly.
Whales and dolphins are seem off the shore at times during the summer. You can also see Moku’ae’ae, a small rocky outcropping that is a bird sanctuary and part of the Kilauea Refuge.
This sandy beach also known as Keoneloa Beach has a step shore break which makes it a popular body boarding beach. It’s usually sunny and a good family beach. The movie “6 Days and 7 Nights” was filmed in part at this location which is right in front of the Hyatt Regency. Just on the other side of the lithified sand dune called Makawehi Point (a popular fishing site) is Mahaulepu Beach.
Shipwreck’s beach was nick named for an old, wooden shipwreck that has long since disappeared. Hiking in this area is excellent along the cliffs and beach. Swimming, however, should be left to only the most skilled due to strong currents and high surf. Surfers, boogie boarders, body surfers and windsurfers greatly enjoy the challenge that this beach presents.
This beach is made up of two sections of beach: north and south Aliomanu. It’s a beautiful stretch of sand, although it is one of the lesser-known beaches on Kauai. South Aliomanu beach is the more popular of the two and is used by locals for fishing, octopus hunting and seaweed harvesting right off the offshore fringing reef. The south section of this beach also has a lagoon which allows for some swimming.
The post-card scenery of Tunnels Beach offers a wide crescent shaped golden sand beach, shady ironwood trees and views of the Bali Hai and lush jungle mountains. This beach boasts a grove of ironwood trees providing comfortable shade for your visit, golden, soft sand and spectacular views at the edge of the Na Pali coast. Also, while a popular spot with both tourists and locals, the beach is not overly crowded and you can always find a spot distanced from other beach goers. The sunsets are also spectacular.
The center portion of beach has a huge is a half moon shape with a large reef about 1/8 mile off shore. This reef provides for excellent snorkeling and diving and creates a barrier from the rough surf conditions and strong currents characteristic of the North Shore. The shallow, sandy bottom in front of the reef remains calm even in the rough winter months and the waves breaking beyond the reef makes for an an excellent surfing spot.
Tunnels is renowned as not only one of the best dive spots in Hawaii, but also as one of the premier dive sites in the world. Composed of an inner and outer reef with a wide channel in between, Tunnels is a maze of coral formations, lave tubes, tunnels and arches and is home to thousands of different species of marine life. Divers tend to favor the outer reef, which offers more lava tubes and arches.
If you aren’t scuba certified, you can still check out some of the amazing coral and marine life at this beach. While you may not get to explore some of the underwater tunnels without a tank on, you’ll still be able to take in the underwater beauty of this reef.
Enter the water at the sandy spot on the northern part of the reef. The wide sand beach offers the easiest entrance into the water. Don’t attempt to enter the shallow areas where there are rocks and reef that come all the way up to the beach edge. Large and small Lava tubes form the many underwater caverns give Tunnels it’s name as well as a magical underwater world to explore.
If you’re a beginner at snorkeling, then you should stay close to shore and follow the inner reef. The inner reef may not be as fun as the outer reef, but it does have lots of caverns, channels and tunnels.
Only experienced snorkelers should swim to the outer reef and even that depends on the water conditions. The outer reef is by far the most interesting. In some places it has a steep drop-off of about 50-70 feet with an abundance of sea life. Past the outer reef the surf kicks up, making Tunnels popular with both surfers and kite boarders.
Facilities: Nearby Haena State Park has restrooms and showers is within walking distance
Lot’s of Sea Turtles can be found at this small cove next to Queen’s Bath. Low tide is best for maximum turtle viewing!
This beach is a popular fishing location made up of two beaches, Waiakalua Iki Beach and Waiakalua Nui Beach. Waiakalua Nui is just slightly east and is covered with beach rock. A rocky point separates the beaches. This beach is dangerous for swimming and water activities, however the scenery is breathtaking.
This beach is small and relativity hidden along the highway at the very end of Hanalei Bay, can be the perfect spot in the summer for those looking for a tranquil place to sunbathe. Getting to the beach from the highway is a little tricky because you have to climb down an embankment. There’s a winter time surf break you may find a surf break just off the reefs. Beware as it’s known to be larger and rougher than other nearby surf breaks.
This beach is at the mouth of the Wailua River and is a popular surf and kite board location. The water can be murky and the parking is limited. The beach is located at the mouth of the only navigable river in the State of Hawaii, the Wailua River. Wailua Beach usually has strong surf and equally as strong currents. Access to this beach is easy but parking can be difficult and conditions are not ideal for swimming.
- Lydgate Beach
Waimea Beach is different from other Kauai Beaches. The sand is black is well known as a spectacular vantage point for sunsets over Niihau, the Forbidden Isle. The Waimea Pier and the lovely cottages along the beach take you back to a nostalgic plantation era.
Coconut palms large grassy lawns and breathtaking old growth Banyan Trees line the shore of this charming stretch of waterfront. Waimea beach is a great spot for a romantic sunset stroll.
Wainiha Beach Park is known for it’s year round lack of swimming. In face Wainiha means “unfriendly waters”. This beach has no reef and it’s simply too dangerous for most activities. However there is more to do at this beach than swim. Located in Haena, this beach has coconut trees, pineapple and more just steps up the beach. It’s also lined with upscale houses and private estates. The sand can be very course in some areas.
Waipouli Beach and Waipouli Beach Park are separate but adjacent beach locations.
Waipouli Beach is between the Beachboy and Coconut Beach Resort. Good walking/jogging trail above the beach, however the water is usually not safe for swimming. The beach itself is long and fronts the Kauai Sands Hotel, Islander on the Beach and Aston Kauai Beach at Maka’iwa. The ocean bottom is rocky in most areas which is another reason swimming is not so good. However, the area is beautiful and on the southern end of the beach is a small cove where sea turtles can be seen near a rocky outcropping. A public access trail leads from the road to this cove. There is also a paved trail along much of the rest of the beach.
Waipouli Beach Park
Just north is the Waipouli Beach Park, which is not as scenic as Waipouli Beach. It is a gathering spot among local residents and popular fishing spot. There is a boat ramp and a pedestrian bridge that leads over a stream to the neighboring Kapa’a Beach Park. The swimming at Waipouli Beach Park is good when the ocean is calm especially nice for novice swimmers and children because the nearshore waters are shallow . A natural breakwater offshore acts as a barrier to incoming waves in one section of the beach (between Panihi Road and Makana Road). Waipouli Beach Park has the restrooms, parking, picnics and more, which you won’t find at Waipouli Beach.
Fuji & Baby Beach
Waipouli Beach Park is also called Fuji beach and baby beach, is a small beach that’s a great place for small children to play. A rocky sea wall creates a shallow tide pool where infants can play in. This is not the beach in front of the Waipouli Beach Resort which is located about half a mile south of here, and is called Waipouli Beach.
This beach is really just the other side of Anini Beach, separated by a small stream. If you drive until the road ends, you will see this beach just past the river mouth. However you usually have to ford the small stream to get to this small patch of sand. Those in Princeville can hike or drive down a step road (Wyllie Road) to get to the other side of this beach. It’s usually private, since access is limited. Water can be murky following rains.
However, the easiest way to find this beach without fording the small stream, is to park at the Public Beach Access lot at the Westin Resort in Princeville. Here you will find near the edge of the golf course a trail head that leads through the dense foliage and down to the water. You may find other camping down near the ocean along a very private portion of the north shore.