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 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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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)
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.
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.
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.
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.