Are you traveling to Kauai, Hawaii soon? You may be wondering which beaches are the best to visit. Check out our list of the best beaches in Kauai, and make your trip unforgettable!
The 16 Best Beaches in Kauai in 2023
Kauai is home to some of the world’s most pristine beaches, but a simple search provides an overwhelming number of results. We’ve compiled a list of the best beaches, so you won’t have to worry about sorting through endless lists.
Kauai is at the northern tip of the Hawaiian islands and it’s famous for lush green rainforests and mountains.
Whether you are snorkeling, diving, surfing, or swimming with your family, Kauai is one of the most beautiful places to beach-hop. Visit as many of these scenic beaches as you can!
1. Kekaha Beach
Visit the town of Kekaha and visit this peaceful, sandy beach. It’s off Kaumualii Highway, on the west side of the island. The sands at Kekaha are white, and the beach marks the beginning of the longest stretch of white beaches on the island.
There are giant black lava rocks on the beach, and you can see the tiny rock islands of Lehua and Niihau if you gaze across the ocean.
Things to do at Kekaha Beach:
- Sunset watching
2. Salt Pond Beach
Salt Pond Beach is on the west side of Kauai in the town of Eleele, near Lokokai Rd. It is sandy, not rocky, and you can expect gentle waves and good snorkeling conditions.
Salt Pond Beach is an excellent beach for swimming with kids. The beach is lifeguarded, has shallow pool areas, and is safe from harsh ocean weather.
Things to do at Salt Pond Beach:
- Tidal pools
3. Hanalei Bay Beach
Hanalei Bay Beach is one of the most popular beaches on Kauai. The beach is on the north side near Princeville, and it is right at the Hanalei River mouth.
Visit Hanalei for views of the mountains, and go down to the historic Hanalei Pier. It is not lifeguarded, but the waves are calm near the pier.
Things to do at Hanalei Bay Beach:
- Stand up paddleboarding
- Sunset watching
4. Shipwreck Beach
Once the home of a sunken ship, Shipwreck Beach is a fun area to visit. It’s in south Kauai, near Poipu, and it’s not far from the Maha’ulepu Heritage Trail.
Shipwreck Beach is small, but there is still plenty to do. Visit the Grand Hyatt hotel for snacks and drinks, or see the Makawehi Point dune. Expect rougher waters that are ideal for surfing but not for swimming.
Things to do at Shipwreck Beach:
- Sunset watching
5. Polihale Beach
Polihale is a cliffside beach with gorgeous white sands. It’s inside a state park on the western side of the island, and it’s in an isolated area with lots of opportunities to explore the wilderness.
Polihale Beach is 17 miles long, and it is the longest beach in the state of Hawaii. The waves are intense, and this beach is ideal for surfing but isn’t a place to swim.
Things to do at Polihale Beach:
6. Makua Tunnels Beach
Head down to Hanalei on the north side for an afternoon at Makua Beach. Also called Tunnels Beach, the site is one of the best places for snorkeling and scuba diving on Kauai. The water is clear, and the shore is home to diverse plant and animal life.
Expect beautiful views with gold sands, lush rainforests, and towering mountains. If you like scuba diving, explore the underwater tunnels formed by lava tubes.
Things to do at Makua Tunnels Beach:
- Kite surfing
- Scuba diving
7. Anahola Beach
Visit a gentle, reef-protected bay at Anahola Beach on the north side. It has peaceful waves that are great for swimming, and it is a popular destination with bathrooms, lifeguards, and picnic tables.
Head over to the river mouth at Anahola Beach to see the sea shells that have drifted in from across the world. Enjoy picturesque views of Kalalea Mountain, and pack a picnic lunch to eat in the shaded areas.
Things to do at Anahola Beach:
8. Lydgate Beach
Lydgate Beach is a family-friendly spot in the eastern area of Kauai. It is on the Pacific Ocean near the Kalepa Forest Reserve, and the waves are easy enough for beginner surfers.
Expect to see an assortment of tropical fish when exploring the beach pools. If you have kids with you, take them to play at Kalemani Playground, or bring camping gear and pitch a tent for the weekend.
Things to do at Lydgate Beach:
- Fish watching
9. Kalihiwai Beach
Go to the north shore near Kilauea to visit Kalihiwai Beach, a secluded bay near the rainforest. The beach has a crescent shape, and the volcanic cliffs form a border around it.
Take your group to enjoy the scenery and soft sands at the beach. Head over to Kalihiwai Beach Lookout for some beautiful views of the Kauai wilderness, or visit the river.
Things to do at Kalihiwai Beach:
10. Baby Beach
Baby Beach is on the south side of the island. It is near Allerton Garden, a Jurassic Park filming location. The waves are gentle and shallow, and it is a good spot for kids or beginner swimmers.
Baby Beach has an ideal location, and it is right next to Koloa and Poipu. Enjoy a day in the waves before heading to Beach House Restaurant, or drive into Poipu to explore the town.
Things to do at Baby Beach:
- Boogie boarding
11. Kalapaki Beach
Kalapaki Beach is a protected cove in south Kauai. It has a convenient location, and it borders the Marriott Kauai Beach Club in Lihue.
The beach has moderate waves suitable for almost any ocean activity, and it is fun for families or lone surfers. Spend the morning swimming at Kalapaki Beach, then grab lunch or go shopping in Lihue.
Things to do at Kalapaki Beach:
- Boogie boarding
- Sand volleyball
12. Haena Beach
Haena Beach is on the north shore, and it features pristine turquoise waters and palm trees. Admire the famous Mount Makana, snorkel with the tropical fish, and look for sea turtles in the water.
Haena Beach is a great location to watch the sunset, and the sun setting behind the mountain makes for a great photo opportunity. If you visit in the colder months, beware of rough waves. In the summer, the waves are gentler, making it one of the best beaches on Kauai.
Things to do at Haena Beach:
- Photo taking
13. Poipu Beach
Poipu Beach is one of the best and most popular beaches on the island. It is near Koloa on the south side, and it has a sheltered area for swimming. Take your family, boogie boards, and a picnic lunch to Poipu Beach for a day of fun in the water.
Kids will love the playground, and adults can head over to the nearby Waiohai Beach for some snorkeling.
You can rent equipment at Poipu Beach for water activities like surfing and snorkeling, and you can even take surfing lessons. Poipu Beach is a popular destination in the summertime, so get there before peak tourist times.
Things to do at Poipu Beach:
14. Kee Beach
The beach is lifeguarded and has restrooms and showers, and the water is clear and pristine. Register your vehicle in advance for entry into the park, and purchase park passes for everyone in your group.
Things to do at Kee Beach:
- Sunset watching
15. Mahaulepu Beach
Mahaulepu Beach is in south Kauai, about 4 miles east of Koloa. It is a secluded area with few visitors, so it is a great beach to enjoy some quiet time.
The sand at Mahaulepu Beach is a lovely golden hue that reflects the sunlight, making it a stunning location for photo opportunities. Look out for Hawaiian monk seals relaxing on the beach.
Things to do at Mahaulepu Beach:
16. Anini Beach
Anini Beach is a safe, calm beach near Princeville on the north shore. It is a long stretch of golden sand with hiking trails and a campground, and the beach is ideal for water activities.
Anini Beach is on a reef that shelters visitors from harsh waves, making it a great place to go for water sports or with young children.
Things to do at Anini Beach:
Things to Consider
When you visit Kauai, it is crucial to consider your favorite beach activities. If you are a surfer, look for rougher waves. If you have a family with small children, you will probably want to visit a calmer beach.
Consider location when you are in Kauai. Most resorts and hotels have great beaches within walking or driving distance, but make sure to check out the quality of the beaches before you book accommodation.
Consider proximity to other activities. Some beaches are remote and in the wilderness. You may want to stick to visiting beaches near museums, shopping, and landmarks, so you will have fun things to do after the beach.
Some other things to consider:
- Weather and seasonal factors
- Proximity to restaurants
- Crowd levels
- Picnic and camping areas
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the top beach on Kauai?
Hanalei Bay, Poipu, and Anini are some of the best beaches on Kauai. They have pristine, clear water and beautiful views, and they are fantastic for swimming and snorkeling.
What part of Kauai has the best beaches?
The Poipu area has some of the best beaches in Kauai. They are family-friendly, easy to swim in, and close to many resorts.
Are there white-sand beaches in Kauai?
Kauai has many white-sand beaches, including Kekaha, Lydgate, and Polihale. The Hawaiian parrotfish are responsible for creating the white particles of sand.
Does Kauai have swimmable beaches?
Kauai is a popular destination for many swimmers, and Saltpond, Anahola, and Kalapaki are just a few of the island’s swimmable beaches.
Where is the cleanest water in Kauai?
Hanalei Bay Beach has some of the best clear water in Kauai, and it’s one of the most popular destinations for families and swimmers. It’s spacious and near the mountains, and it remains an ideal spot for clear snorkeling and scuba conditions.
So, What Are the Best Beaches in Kauai?
Kauai has an abundance of beautiful beaches. The lush green island has something for everyone, whether you like swimming, hiking, snorkeling, or just watching the sunset over the mountains.
Hanalei Bay Beach and Poipu Beach are some of our top choices for the best beach on Kauai, but all of the beaches on this list will make your trip fun and memorable!