Kauai has some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Many are backed by the stunning greenery of Kauai’s tropical forests and mountains, others by soaring sea cliffs. Some are so remote they require an 11-mile hike or a kayak trip on the open ocean to get there. Others you can drive right up on the beach. With so many beaches, there’s a beach for everyone on Kauai. Most if not all of Kauai’s beaches are not crowded. In fact, you may be wondering why there aren’t more people at the beach. Whether you’re looking for snorkeling, surfing, body boarding, camping or just having a picnic with the family, a Kauai beach is calling you. Below you will find a list of Kauai beaches. They are organized by general geographic areas, starting with the Na Pali Coast and working clockwise around the island.
Na Pali Coast Beaches
Set against a backdrop of stunning green mountains and dramatic sea cliffs, Na Pali Coast beaches are rugged, remote and breathtaking. You can’t drive to any of these beaches, only a hike, kayak or swim will get you there. But your efforts will be rewarded with some of the most insanely gorgeous settings in the world where you will find solitude and oneness with nature.
Milolii Beach is a remote beach on Kauai’s Na Pali Coast that is a favorite for kayakers and campers. The beach is accessible by boat and kayak only. Camping is allowed during the summer months and permits are required to stay overnight. Day landings are allowed during the summer between May 15th and September 7th without a permit.
The secluded beach features a 90-foot natural arch in the middle that is large enough to fly a helicopter through. Unfortunately, the only way to get to the beach is by swimming which is a risky proposition in the rough waters off the Na Pali Coast.
Kalalau Beach is the mystical beach at the end of the trail, where adventurers and hippies alike find their Eden. The beach can only be reached by kayak or hiking the 11-mile Kalalau Trail, one of the most difficult trails in Hawaii and known as one of the most dangerous in the world.
Hanakapiai Beach is the most accessible and popular beach on the Na Pali Coast and can be reached via a two-mile hike on the Hanakapiai Trail from Ke’e Beach. The beach is a great place to relax and have a picnic lunch.
North Shore Beaches
Kauai’s North Shore beaches are exotic and tropical like you might find in the South Pacific. In fact, the movie South Pacific was filmed on Kauai’s North Shore beaches. North Shore beaches are home to legendary surf haunts, quaint surfer towns and unmatched beauty.
This is the beach at the very end of the road you’ve been searching for. Literally, Ke’e Beach is at the end of the last road in Kauai and the start of the Na Pali Coast. A protective reef provides great opportunities for snorkeling.
Haena Beach is one of the crown jewels of Kauai, with famous Mount Makana (Bali Hai) as a backdrop. White sands, black rocks, green tropical forests and turquoise waters make for an unforgettable setting.
Beautiful Tunnels Beach (also known as Makua Beach) is world-renowned for snorkeling. The beach features a protective inner reef perfect for beginners and children and a complex outer reef for more advanced snorkelers.
Lumahai Beach near Hanalei is regarded as one of the most beautiful beaches in all of Kauai. The wide, white sandy beach is almost a mile long and up to 300 feet wide with plenty of room for everyone. But strong waves that break near the shore make this beach best enjoyed on the sand.
Waioli Beach Park is a distinct section of the Hanalei Bay beach known for its Ironwood trees, green grass and surf culture. Also known as Pine Trees Beach, this is where Andy Irons and his brother learned to surf, and the beach continues to attract the local surfer crowd.
Hanalei Bay Beach is the centerpiece of Kauai’s North Shore. Located in Hanalei Bay at the town of Hanalei, the gently curving, two-mile long beach features a wide sandy beach, a sandy ocean bottom and the Hanalei Pier. Tropical mountains, often streaming with waterfalls, serve as the backdrop.
Located between the Hanalei Pier and the mouth of the Hanalei River, this magical spot is a focal point for the Hanalei beach community, and plays host to surfers, kayakers, stand up paddle boarders, picnickers, campers and other beach-going enthusiasts.
Puu Poa Beach is a small but beautiful beach that sits in front of the St. Regis Princeville Resort and is also accessible to the Hanalei Bay Resort (HBR) via a paved path. With Bali Hai in the distance and spectacular mountains behind, this picturesque beach is one of the most scenic in the world.
Hideaways Beach is a secluded beach hidden behind the St. Regis Princeville Resort and tucked under a 200-foot bluff below the Puu Poa Condos and Pali Ke Kua Condos. The beach has a nice reef with a full range of sea life.
Anini Beach is a tranquil, semi-secluded beach on the North Shore of Kauai that offers sun, swimming, snorkeling and windsurfing. With no hotels at the beach, and a limited number of vacation rental houses, there’s enough beach for everyone.
Kalihiwai Beach is generally less well known than its neighbor Anini Beach, but the beach is (in our opinion) even more beautiful than Anini. The long, crescent-shaped beach sits in a bay framed by lava cliffs. In between the cliffs there is plenty of sand, and behind the beach there is plenty of shade from the Ironwood trees.
Secret Beach (officially Kauapea Beach) is a hidden treasure on the north shore of Kauai known for its seclusion, large expanse (3,000 feet long and 75 feet wide) and views of the Kilauea Point Lighthouse.
Though the North Shore and Poipu beaches get most of the attention on Kauai, there’s a gem of a beach at Moloa’a Bay that more than a few people claim is their favorite beach on the entire island. The out-of-the-way beach sits in beautiful Moloa’a Bay amid turquoise waters framed by deep greens. This is a locals beach where families will often gather on weekends in the shaded areas to the left.
East Shore Beaches
Kauai’s eastern shore beaches, near the island’s population centers of Kapaa and Lihue, have good waves, good sun and are popular with locals and their families.
Anahola Beach is a locals beach on the east shore of Kauai that is especially popular with families. The expansive beach has something for everyone, including surfing (on the north end), bodyboarding, swimming, snorkeling, fishing and picnicking. It is a great place to relax, with plenty of shade available and views of the Kalalea Mountains as a backdrop.
Donkey Beach is a semi-secluded beach on the Kapaa Bike Path (about 1.5 miles from Kealia Beach) that offers peace, tranquility and relaxation. Old timers may remember this beach as clothing optional, but with the addition of the bike path, laws are more strictly enforced. There is also a path to the beach from the Kuhio Highway.
Kealia Beach, just north of the town of Kapaa, is especially popular with locals where you will find them hanging out, cooking out, and watching the waves. With strong, consistent waves that break at just about the right distance from the shore for recreational surfing, the beach is one of the best places on Kauai to surf, bodyboard and skimboard.
Conveniently located in Kapa’a, Baby Beach (aka Fuji Beach) is a popular destination for locals as a place to unwind and relax, for families and their children for a place to play, for fisherman to enjoy shoreline fishing, for early risers to watch the sunrise and for bikers and pedestrians on the adjacent Kapa’a Bike Path.
Wailua Beach, at Wailua River State Park, sits at the mouth of the Wailua River in the shadow of the Highway 56 bridge. The beach is popular with local surfers, body boarders and kite boarders.
Lydgate State Park is a popular family-friendly/kid-friendly beach near the towns of Kapaa and Lihue that features two enclosed lagoons and a large playground/park. The calm waters of the lagoons, along with the tropical fish, make this the perfect place for beginner snorkelers and swimmers.
Kalapaki Beach is a relaxing beach in Lihue, Kauai that is home to the huge Kauai Marriott Resort. Located in Nawiliwili Bay, the beach is sheltered from the open ocean. Swaying palm trees, gentle waves, calm breezes and green grass make for the perfect place to sun, swim, read a book and relax.
South Shore Beaches
It’s (almost) always sunny in southern Kauai! Rain is what makes the Garden Island green, but there’s less of it on Kauai’s South Shore. If you’re a sun and beach worshiper, you’ll want to stay near one of these beaches. If you’re on the North Shore and it’s raining or cloudy, head down to Poipu or as far as Polihale Beach and you probably won’t be disappointed.
Shipwreck Beach is a popular beach on Kauai’s sunny south shore in Poipu. The beach is best known for its iconic cliff at the end of the beach where visitors can famously jump into the ocean, as Harrison Ford and Anne Heche did in the movie “Six Days and Seven Nights.”
Consistently ranked as one of the best beaches in America, Poipu Beach is a favorite destination for sun worshipers, families and couples seeking the perfect beach, perfect weather and perfect sunsets. Located on Kauai’s southern shore at the resort town of Poipu, the beach has something for everyone.
With less tourist lodging on this southwestern side of the island, Waimea Beach is more of a locals beach, where you will find the locals swimming, fishing and just hanging out. For locals and tourists alike, the beach is a great place for beachcombing and a sunset stroll.
Rough waters, but long sandy beaches, plenty of sun, beautiful sunsets and views of the “Forbidden Island” of Niihau make Kekaha Beach a popular beach among locals on the far side of Kauai.
Imagine almost ten miles of spectacular, pristine, isolated, wild Kauai beach right around the corner from the Na Pali Coast! Imagine that it is sandy white and stretches farther than the eye can see. And imagine that it is so wide that it has its own sand dunes. Such a beach exists, and it’s called Polihale!