As of now we spent a little over 3 months on the island of Kauai. We have been to a majority of the easily accessible beaches along with a few that require a little more work to get to. Below, we have narrowed down our favorites that we visit on a regular basis. All listed with our personal pros and cons for each.
• Kalalau Beach- Nice remote beach that is only accessible by hiking in (obtain an overnight permit) or via boat/kayak! Permits to do the Kalalau trail are consistently about 3-4 months out and most people make the 22 mile round trip hike regardless if they have permits or not. We obtain permits when we make the trek because it helps the state maintain trails and the facilities along the trails. They have two sets of bathrooms at the camp along with a nice waterfall to rinse off in and get water from which you will want to purify. The beach itself is sparsely populated with only a handful of people the times we went. Expect to find great company (sometimes naked or topless) and to relax on a nice quiet beach. The water clarity doesn’t appear to be quite as good as Ke’e or Tunnels beach on the north shore.
Beach Location– Northwest side of Kauai via the Kalalau trail or boat
• Ke’e Beach – Great snorkeling and swimming area! Parking is usually the main issue with this beach and can be a headache. Water visibility is great in the summertime but due to high surf in winter the beach stays closed. Has a nice reef/shoal break for snorkeling. Does have a lifeguard tower which is a big plus especially if you have kids traveling with you. They have an outdoor shower and some restrooms. Be careful parking along the road especially where there is signs against it you WILL get a ticket. Great overall family beach and is very safe. NOT a good beach for surfing due to the reefs.
Beach Location– North shore as far as the main highway takes you. You will pass through Hanalei and about another 10 minutes and you will be there. Parking is the biggest pain and we would recommend getting there early to get a good parking spot.
• Tunnels Beach- Great beach with a view! Some of the best snorkeling on Kauai not to mention it has a lush green mountainous backdrop! Water clarity is very good here starting around April till around October. Winter swells are too big for snorkeling November till March. Unfortunately the reefs here are basically all dead from people touching them, BUT everywhere you look there is an abundance of fish and underwater sea life. The reef is very close to shore and would be great for beginners or advanced snorkeling/diving. The downside to this beach like most other beaches on Kauai is the abundance of people so if you would like a secluded beach then i would suggest Kalalau or Polihale.
Beach Location- North side of Kauai. The best access point in our opinion is parking at Haena state park and walking down the beach. If you are facing the beach from the parking area go right down the beach and walk for about 5-10 minutes.
• Hideaways Beach – A secluded quaint little beach in Princeville. When we went there were only about 4 other people so we pretty much had it to ourselves. We went in March but sadly the waves were too high to take a swim so we just sat in the sand and enjoyed our amazing view. We have heard this beach is great in the summer months when its a bit calmer and can be perfect for snorkeling and swimming! The only con is that it can be tricky to get down as you have to go downhill while holding onto ropes, it can be a bit slippery if it has recently rained so just take your time and you will be fine!
Beach location: Drive up to Princeville and head towards the St. Regis Hotel , just before the hotel entrance there is a small beach access parking lot to the right, only about 8 cars can fit here so its probably best to head here early morning or later in the evening. There is a narrow path between the fences that you will take, leading you down to the beach.
• Kealia Beach- This beach is probably the one we spend the most time at, mainly for the consistent surf conditions and it offers a good variety of things you can do. We always bring our body/boogie boards, surf board and our snorkel gear because you can always do one of those on any given day. This beach is right off the road and is always bustling with many people, but it offers a long strip of beach so you can space out where your not on top of everyone. There is also a restroom and outside shower to rinse off after your done. Another plus is its along the Kauai bike path so you also have the opportunity to take a stroll if you wanted to. Since this beach offers so much, its our “go to” when we want to take a day and hang out on the water.
Beach Location – Just past Kapaa on the right hand side of the road if your coming from Lihue, you can’t miss it! Plus there is plenty of parking 🙂
• Poipu Beach- This is a great beach for snorkeling and a great place for children to swim as there is a natural wading pool here. To the right of the wading pool is perfect for boogie-boarding and surfing out past the reef. Each time we have been here, there seems to always be a monk seal or two! Our con to this beach is that its always really crowded unless you go late in the evening or early morning. Great beach if you don’t mind the crowds. There are restrooms and outside showers available to use too.
Beach Location- South shore at Poipu Beach Park
• Shipwrecks Beach- So this beach is not quite a snorkel beach, but its great for boogie/body boarding, and more advanced surfers. We don’t have much surfing experience so we don’t bring our surf boards with us as the shore break is short and there are a bunch of lava rocks we’d have to watch out for, but we do bring our body boards and catch a few waves that way. Its also great for swimming and there is the widely known cliff to the left that many people jump off of into the deep blue, (please do research on that before going out or ask someone who has done it before). But we want to mention that this beach has a bunch of lava rocks in the shallow parts of the water so you have to be careful, we have both left here with our fare share of battle wounds 🙂 The waves and current here are also pretty rough at times so just be weary of your limits. In between swimming and body boarding, we love to just sit back and watch the surfers and the amazing body borders who show off there tricks! Parking can be a little tricky but if you don’t mind walking a few minutes you can park along side the road.
Beach Location- Located in front of the Grand Hyatt Hotel, parking is just beyond the hotels main entrance.
• Polihale Beach – Longest beach in all of the Hawaiian islands! Beach is pretty secluded and odds are you will only see a handful of people on this beach. They do have some good camping right near the beach which is a big plus. Amenities include outdoor showers, restrooms and a couple pavilions. No lifeguard on this beach! In winter time there are massive waves with crazy rip tides so be sure to swim with caution. Great beach to just walk around on and hang out with friends. Great spot to watch the sunset. Also known for great fishing! Main issue with this beach is the road getting there is ROUGH and seems to go on forever.
Beach Location– As far west as you can drive on the highway, past Kekaha. Dirt road on the left that says Polihale State Park. Long bumpy dirt road but well worth the drive.
As you can see we love spending our spare time on the beach when we are not out hiking and exploring! We have also been to many more beaches on this island besides the ones we listed, but these seem to be the ones that draw us back so we thought we’d share them with you.