Kauai, commonly referred to as "The Garden Isle," is known for its lush tropical rainforest climate, which has been immortalized in feature films such as Rodgers and Hammerstein's South Pacific. Visitors to the island's Napali Coast can relax on beaches in the backdrop of Mount Makana, which served as the inspiration for the fabled Bali Ha'i.
Luxurious resorts flank popular family beaches such as Kalapaki and Waipouli Beach, while sites such as Waioli Beach are renowned as some of Hawai'i's best surfing spots. Many of the island's beaches are protected from strong wave currents during the summer months by surrounding barrier reefs, making them great spots for young and novice swimmers to hone their water skills.
1. Anahola Beach Park
Anahola Beach Park is a stunning white sand waterfront along Kauai's eastern shoreline, located adjacent to Anahola Bay. The local favorite beach is widely considered to be Kauai's windward coast's safest beach, making it a popular spot for families to stretch out and spend the day. Its protective barrier reef creates safe swimming and snorkeling conditions year-round, with County of Kauai lifeguards staffed on duty during peak months.
Good to know: A stronger break creates good bodyboarding conditions where the beach meets the Anahola River, with surfing permitted on the beach's northern end.
Pro tip: The beach is one of the eastern shore's only overnight beachfront camping sites, with spaces available for tents with permits.
Anahola, HI 96703
2. Anini Beach
Anini Beach is a lovely beachfront along Kauai's northern shore, best known as the site of the beachfront mansion that served as the backdrop for the 1992 feature film Honeymoon in Vegas. The beach, which is named for the Hawai'ian word for "dwarfish," offers a less crowded alternative to popular spots such as Hanalei Pavilion and Po'ipu Beach Park, renowned throughout Hawai'i for its prime windsurfing conditions within its outer waters.
Good to know: Despite a lack of lifeguard staff, the beach is considered to be one of Kauai's safest beaches due to calm water conditions within its barrier reef, making for great swimming, paddleboarding, and snorkeling conditions.
Pro tip: Beachgoers can catch glimpses of its stunning coral reef from the shore, the longest and widest-fringing reef of its kind in the state. Camping is allowed with permits, with amenities such as picnic tables, restrooms, and showers offered for beachgoers.
Stay here: Best Kauai Beachfront Resorts
Kalihiwai, HI 96754
3. Baby Beach Po'ipu
Baby Beach Po'ipu, also known as Ho'ona Beach, is a small but charming beach along Po'ipu's eastern coastline, accessible via Lawai and Ho'ona Roads. The beach is an excellent choice for travelers with young children, offering calm, shallow waters that are safe enough for infants and toddlers to wade in. Tide pools are also exposed at the beach during low tide conditions, making for great opportunities for splashing and beachcombing.
Pro tip: Visitors can typically catch glimpses of monk seals and sea turtles at the beach, though beachgoers should exercise caution not to come in contact with protected species. Outside the beach's protected rock pool, expert bodyboarders can enjoy strong wave conditions.
Good to know: Though the beach offers no public facilities, beachgoers can use restrooms and showers at nearby Lawai Beach.
What's nearby? There are many great things to do in Kauai
Poipu East Side, Kauai, HI 96746
4. Brennecke's Beach
Brennecke's Beach is the best spot for body surfing and boogie boarding at Po'ipu Beach Park, located adjacent to the main beach area along Kauai's southern shore. The cove-shaped beach is home to smaller currents and undertow than other area beaches, making it a great spot for young children to learn to surf, though beachgoers should still exercise caution due to injury risk from the beach's rocky coastline.
Good to know: Lifeguards are staffed on duty throughout peak months, offering information on daily water conditions and safety.
Local travel tip: Sea turtles can be spotted outside the beach's breakers, though beachgoers should exercise caution not to come in contact with the protected animals. Public amenities include restrooms, showers, and picnic sites.
Koloa, HI 96756
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5. Fuji Beach
Fuji Beach, commonly referred to as Baby Beach Kapaa, is a charming beach located in Kapaa on Kauai's eastern shoreline, located at the start of the Kauai Coastal Path. The beach is said to be named in honor of a regional obstetrician who delivered more than 2,000 children in the area throughout the 1950s and is one of the best family-friendly beaches near Kapaa due to calm protected waters within its barrier reef area.
Local travel tip: Tide pools exposed at low tide offer opportunities for splashing and beachcombing, with Hawai'ian monk seals frequently visible from the shoreline. Visitors should take care not to disrupt protected animal habitats and keep their distance from seals.
Good to know: Shoreline and torch fishing are also popular activities at the beach, with picnic tables, restrooms, showers, and drinking fountains available for visitor use.
More to explore: What are some of the nicest beaches in Hawaii?
Moanakai Rd, Kapaa, HI 96746
6. Ha'ena Beach Park
Ha'ena Beach Park, also referred to as Maniniholo Beach, is a popular northern shoreline beach that stands in the shadow of the stunning Mount Makana, immortalized as Bali Ha'i in the 1949 musical South Pacific. The beach, which is named in honor of its large populations of convict fish, is a prime North Shore spot for swimming and snorkeling during calm water conditions, though visitors should be advised that high winter surfs make water conditions dangerous for entry.
Good to know: On dry land, beachgoers can relax on pristine golden sands or explore the unique terrain of Maniholo Dry Cave.
What's nearby? Nearby, the 5.5-acre Ha'ena Beach Park offers permit campsites, day-use picnic sites, and launching-off points for backpackers exploring the natural wonders of the nearby Kalalau Valley.
HI-560, Kapaa, HI 96746
7. Hanalei Pavilion
Hanalei Pavilion is a two-mile public beach park along the gorgeous crescent-shaped Hanalei Bay, located on Kauai's northern shoreline. Throughout the summer months, the bay serves as a bustling harbor for sailboats and ships from around the world, with gently-sloping sands and ample beachfront space for boat watching, sunbathing, and beach running.
Pro tip: Steady and consistent waves make the beach a great place for surfers to practice wave riding, though visitors should watch out for hazardous water conditions at high tide.
Honeymoon idea: Stunning panoramic views of nearby Makahoa and Pu'u Points are offered from all points on the beach, with views of inland mountain ranges and waterfalls possible on clear days.
Must know: Lifeguards are staffed on duty seven days a week during peak months, with restrooms and showers available for visitor day use.
Hanalei, HI 96714
8. Hanalei Pier
Hanalei Pier is an historic landmark pier that is located near Black Pot Beach Park at the mouth of the Hanalei River, originally constructed in 1892 as a working pier for the transportation sugar and other goods. The pier, which was reconstructed in 1921 and fully renovated in 2013 by the Hanalei Rotary Club, remains a popular spot today for watching spectacular sunsets in the shadow of imposing nearby mountain Bali Ha'i.
What is this beach famous for? It has been used as a filming site in a number of major feature films, including 1954's Beachhead and 1957's South Pacific, and has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1979.
Good to know: Visitors can enjoy excellent calm surf conditions at the nearby beach park for swimming, surfing, and bodyboarding or can utilize the pier for launching kayaks within the Hanalei River.
Pro tip: Beachgoers looking for more privacy at the pier should avoid weekends and holidays, as the region can become extremely crowded with tourists.
Hanalei, HI 96714
9. Hideaway Beach
Hideaway Beach, also known as Kenomene Beach or Pali Ke Kua Beach, is a gorgeous spot for snorkeling along Kauai's northern shoreline near Princeville, accessible via the Pali Ke Kua condominium complex.
Must know: The secluded beach is only accessible via a steep entrance path, but the trek is worth it to relax on its secluded 300-foot golden sand crescent shoreline, which is an excellent spot for observing sea turtles in their natural habitats.
Explore by kayak: Those wishing to avoid the steep entrance path can also access the beach via kayak from nearby Hanalei Bay or swim from nearby Pu'u Poa at low tide conditions.
Advice from locals: Visitors are advised to bring mosquito repellent on their trips to the beach, as mosquitos can be very prevalent during summer months.
Princeville, HI 96722
10. Kalapaki Beach
Kalapaki Beach is a great choice for beginner swimmers, surfers, and water sport enthusiasts, located in front of the Kauai Marriott Beach Resort along Kalapaki Bay on Kauai's eastern shoreline.
Who is it for? The beach is partially protected by a large break wall, creating generally calm and safe water conditions for boogie boarders, stand-up paddleboarders, and canoeists, with surfing lessons offered year-round by a number of beach vendors.
Good to know: Ample shoreline space is offered for sunbathers, with frequent pick-up beach volleyball games started throughout the summer months.
What's nearby? Nearby at the Kalapaki Beach Hut, visitors can grab to-go picnic lunches and shaved ice for enjoying as they watch cruise ships come in and out of port at nearby Nawiliwili Harbor.
Lihue, HI 96766
11. Kalihiwai Beach
Kalihiwai Beach is a popular public beach in Kilauea, located at the mouth of Kalihiwai Stream near Kalihiwai Bay. The lovely white sand crescent beach is lined by ironwood trees and is situated between lava cliff formations, flanked by a backdrop of lush rainforest foliage. During the summer months, the beach's calm waters make for great swimming conditions for young visitors, with brackish pools allowing for safe wading and floating during low tide.
Winter vacation: In the winter, the beach is a popular spot for bodyboarding and surfing, though novice surfers should be cautious of dangerous water conditions during times of strong currents.
What's nearby? Nearby at Kalihiwai Stream, visitors can kayak or paddleboard when water conditions permit. Portable restrooms are offered at the beach, with lifeguards staffed on duty at peak times.
Where to eat: Nearby at the Kilauea Market, beachgoers can grab ahi tuna wraps and other freshly-prepared delicacies for beach picnics.
3069 Kalihiwai Rd, Kilauea, HI 96754
12. Ke'e Beach
© Jennifer Jean/stock.adobe.com
Ke'e Beach is a charming beach located at the end of the road along Kauai's northern shoreline, marking the beginning of the island's Napali Coast and Kalalau Trail to nearby Kalalau and Hanakapiai Beaches.
Is it a good summer vacation spot? The beach's lagoon is generally protected from currents during the summer months, making for safe swimming and snorkeling conditions for beachgoers of all ages, though visitors should note that high surf and strong currents can make for hazardous water conditions during the winter months.
What is the best Kauai beach with a view? Gorgeous views of the Napali Coast are offered from all vantage points on Ke'e Beach, including opportunities to see stunning island sunsets at dusk.
Must know: Visitors should note that the beach does not have cell phone reception, though payphones are provided for visitor use.
13. Kealia Beach
© Jennifer Jean/stock.adobe.com
Kealia Beach is a spacious white sand beach along Kauai's eastern coastline, located near Anahola Beach Park and the unincorporated community of Kealia. The beach is known as an excellent spot in the region for surfing, though visitors should be aware that strong wind swells at times can create unsafe water conditions and should exercise caution before entering the water.
What is the best month to visit? During calmer water conditions in the summer months (June, July and August), beachgoers can also enjoy prime boogie boarding and swimming conditions.
What is the best Hawaii beach for whale watching? In the winter months, Kealia Beach on Kauai is one of the eastern shoreline's best spots for whale watching.
Family vacation essentials: Picnic pavilions, restrooms, and showers are provided for day use, with lifeguards staffed on duty at peak times.
More to explore: Beachgoers can also pick up the Kapaa Coastal Path, also known as Ke Ala Hele Makalae, and explore the island's eastern coastline on foot or via bicycle.
Kapaa, HI 96746
14. Kekaha Beach
Kekaha Beach is a private white sand beach along Kauai's far western shoreline, the last lifeguarded beach accessible near the Kekaha. The sunny, secluded beach is Hawai'i's longest stretch of white sand shoreline, known as a great spot for local surfing and fishing.
Beach strollers can glimpse great views of nearby Lehua Rock and Niihau Island from the coastline, which also offers great opportunities for interesting beachcombing finds.
Must know: Visitors should note that strong wind and waves can cause turbulent water conditions at times and should check water conditions before entry.
Which Kauai beach offers the best sunsets? Spectacular sunsets are visible at dusk from the beachfront at Kekaha Beach.
Pro tip: Lifeguards are staffed on duty daily, with restrooms and showers available for day use.
HI-50, Kekaha, HI 96752
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15. Kiahuna Beach
© Don Landwehrle/stock.adobe.com
Kiahuna Beach is one of the South Shore's most beloved public beaches, located within the beautiful Po'ipu Beach Park near the Kiahuna Plantation resort. The beach, which is located adjacent to Lawai Beach, is known as a prime spot for beginner surfers, boogie boarders, and snorkelers due to calm water conditions within its barrier reef, making it a great spot for families to try their hand at a variety of water sports together. Outside the barrier reef, rougher wave conditions attract more experienced surfers.
Can you find shade on the beach? Pristine powder-white sands offer excellent conditions for sunbathing and relaxation, though visitors should note that the beach receives little natural shade and should plan accordingly.
Where should I watch a sunset in Kauai? The sands at Kiahuna Beach are an excellent front-row spot for viewing the region's spectacular nightly sunsets.
16. Lydgate Beach Park
Lydgate Beach Park is a delightful family-friendly beach located on Kauai's eastern Coconut Coast near Wailua, adjacent to the Wailua River. The lively beach attracts swimmers, fishers, surfers, divers and beachcombers throughout the summer months, with calm protected waters and large populations of tropical fish within its jetty-enclosed areas making the beach a great spot for families to wade and play.
Where can I windsurf on Kauai? Windsurfing is popular when winds from the south create favorable sailing conditions.
Is this a good family beach? A wide variety of amenities are available for visitor use, including picnic areas and the children's Kamalani Playground. Lifeguards are staffed on duty throughout the day.
Can I camp on this Kauai beach? Overnight camping is allowed on Lydgate Beach Park with permits.
Leho Dr, Lihue, HI 96766
More ideas: Kayaking in Wailua
17. Po'ipu Beach Park
Po'ipu Beach Park, also known as Waiohai Beach, Sheraton Beach, and Brenneckes Beach, has been named as the best beach in America by the Travel Channel, renowned for its stunning golden sand crescents and unusual barrier reef formations. The beach, which is the South Shore's most popular family beach destination, offers opportunities for swimming, surfing, boogie boarding, snorkeling, and scuba diving for water enthusiasts of all ages, with lifeguards staffed on duty during peak months.
What is a good toddler beach on Kauai? Young visitors can swim safely in the beach's natural ocean wading pool.
Is this a good surfing beach? Experienced surfers can try their hand at the beach's impressive outer surf break.
Is this Kauai beach crowded or secluded? Visitors should note that due to its popularity, the beach can become extremely crowded during weekends and holidays and should plan accordingly to secure prime beachfront spots.
Koloa, HI 96756
18. Polihale State Park
© Juergen Wallstabe/stock.adobe.com
Polihale State Park is a gorgeous wild beachfront along Kauai's western side, serving as the westernmost publicly-accessible area within the state. The park, which is located several miles from the city of Kekaha, is only accessible via four-wheel drive vehicle, as the park's access road is rough and poorly marked. It has strong ties to native Hawai'ian mythology, said to be a site where spirits travel to the mythical afterlife and be populated by a strain of sea lettuce that was blessed by the Hawai'ian goddess Na-maka-o-Kaha'i.
Is this Kauai beach safe?
Safe swimming along the beachfront is offered at the region known as Queen's Pond, which is flanked by 100-foot-high sand dunes along its shoreline.
What is there to see? Visitors can catch glimpses of the Napali Coast mountains in the distance or spot the Pacific Missile Range Facility located adjacent to the beach park.
Must know: Though the beach offers restrooms and showers, visitors should bring additional food and medical supplies if needed, as the park is not staffed.
Hwy 50, Waimea, HI 96766
19. Salt Pond Beach Park
Salt Pond Beach Park is the only spot in Hawai'i that is still home to natural salt ponds, located near Hanapepe on Kauai's western side. The beach, which is located within a natural wetland area, is still used by native Hawai'ians for collecting salt rock crystals that are commonly used for cooking and medicinal purposes.
Is this a kid-friendly beach?
Swimming conditions are generally safe year-round, even for small children and novice swimmers, due to protected waters with the beach's pool-like lagoon area.
What is a good snorkeling beach in Kauai?
Snorkeling is also popular around the area near the beach's lava rock outcrops, which are popular with marine life such as butterfly fish, goatfish, and moorish idols.
What is a great beach for family photos?
Reddish-golden sands line the beach's shoreline, with overnight camping allowed on the beachfront with county permits.
Eleele, HI 96705, (website link)
20. Shipwrecks Beach
© Lynn Yeh/stock.adobe.com
Shipwrecks Beach is one of the largest beachfront areas along Keoneloa Bay, located along Kauai's southern shoreline near Po'ipu. The local favorite beach, which is located directly in front of the Grand Hyatt Hotel, is named in honor of a large historic shipwreck in the early 1980s which was partially buried in the beach's sands. Recent beachfront development has made the once-secluded beach a top spot for swimming, surfing, and bodysurfing today.
What is the best beachcombing spot in Kauai?
Beachcombing is popular along the nearby Mahaulepu Heritage Trail, which extends several miles along coastline cliffs to nearby Kawailoa Bay.
What is the best diving spot in Kauai?
The beach's famed 40-foot lithified sand dune cliff is a popular diving spot, immortalized in the 1998 feature film Six Days and Seven Nights featuring Kauai's Shipwrecks Beach.
Can I surf on Shipwrecks Beach? Large surf conditions mae the beach most suited to expert surfers.
21. Tunnels Beach
Tunnels Beach, also known as Makua in native Hawai'ian, is a beautiful section of beachfront at Kauai's Haena Beach Park, located near the town of Kapaa along the island's northern shoreline. The beach is best known internationally as a major filming site for the 1958 feature film South Pacific, home to pristine golden sands, beautiful palm and ironwood tree grown, and spectacular mountain backdrops along its crescent-shaped waterfront.
Where can I see lava tubes in Kauai?
Lava tube formations along the beach's barrier reef give it its English name, making for unique snorkeling atmosphere for divers of all ability levels.
What are some popular beach activities in Kauai? Popular activities at the beachfront include windsurfing, kitesurfing, and sunset viewing, with ample space available for stretching out and relaxing or strolling along the coastline.
Does the beach offer restrooms? Haena Beach Park offers a wide variety of visitor amenities, including restrooms, showers, and picnic tables.
HI-560, Kapaa, HI 96746
22. Wailua Beach
© Eric BVD/stock.adobe.com
Wailua Beach gorgeous half-mile white sand beach located along Kauai's eastern Coconut Coast at the mouth of the Wailua River, known as a popular site for tourist boat tours and hiking expeditions. Strong surf conditions are created by the lack of a barrier reef, making the beach dangerous for swimming but beloved by expert surfers, bodyboarders, and kiteboarders.
Is the beach safe for little kids? A small rock pool at the Lae Nani beachfront stretch on the beach's northern end offers safe wading conditions for young children.
What's nearby? Better conditions for water activities are offered on the Wailua River, which can be explored as part of excursions by a number of area touring companies. At the river's mouth, visitors can explore the Hauloa City of Refuge and Hikinaakala Heiau historic sites.
Wailua, HI 96746
23. Waimea Beach
Waimea Beach is a stunning black sand beach on Kauai's western shoreline, not to be confused with the popular surfing beach of the same name at Waimea Bay on O'ahu. The unique beach is one of the best vantage spots on the island to glimpse stunning sunsets over the Forbidden Isle of Niihau, perfect for couples looking for romantic beach strolls during the evening hours. Behind the beachfront, coconut palms and old-growth banyan trees line the coastline, making for picturesque scenery.
What's a good fishing spot in Kauai? Fishing is popular along at Waimea Pier, with ample space to stretch out on the shore and enjoy picnics at day-use sites.
Stay here: The nearby (Waimea Plantation Cottages) are a popular site for family reunions, weddings, receptions, and group vacations.
North Shore, HI 96712
24. Waioli Beach
Waioli Beach, commonly referred to as Pine Trees Beach, is a lovely Hanalei Bay beach that is named for the populations of ironwood pines that flank the sand's edges. The two-mile crescent-shaped beach in Princeville, which is bordered on its eastern end by Hanalei Beach Park and by volcanic mountain ridges against its backdrop, is known as one of Kauai's most famed surfing spots, hosting the annual Pine Tree Classic beginner surfing contest.
What famous people live on Waioli Beach, Kauai?
Local legends and world champion surfers Andy and Bruce Irons grew up near the beachfront, perfecting their skills on the beach's large wave swells.
Can I play volleyball on the beach in Kauai? Volleyball courts on the beach's shoreline are popular spots for pick-up games, with plenty of visitor amenities offered for day use.
What's nearby? West of the beach, visitors can access Waikoko Beach.
5424 Weke Rd, Hanalei, HI 96714
25. Waipouli Beach
Waipouli Beach is a charming beach located directly in front of the Waipouli Beach Resort, near Kapa'a's Coconut Marketplace on Kauai's eastern shoreline. The beach is one of the island's best spots for catching gorgeous sunrises, with biking opportunities also offered along the nearby Ke Ala Hele Makalae coastal trail. Swimming is possible when ocean currents are calm, though beachgoers should note that the beach's ocean bottom is quite rocky and can be dangerous.
Where can I see sea turtles on Kauai?
Sea turtles and monk seals can be spotted from the coastline, though visitors should take care not to interact directly with protected animal species.
Good to know: A boat ramp and pedestrian bridge connect the beach to nearby Kapa'a Beach Park.
Where to eat: A large number of cafes and stores are located within walking distance of the beachfront.
4-820 Kuhio Hwy, Kapaa, HI 96746
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