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10 Best Beaches on Kauai for Sun, Sand and Surf



Kauai is the oldest Hawaiian Island, and itʻs geological age has blessed it with a huge array of beaches with fine white sand. The entire coastline is dotted with gorgeous beaches, all offering soft sand for sunning and plenty of space for swimming, but each beach is unique with what other activities they offer. Some are great for surfing, other for watching the sunset, while others have amazing snorkeling or hold title as great family beaches.

On Kauai, a great beach is never far away. On the North Shore gems like Keʻe Beach Park and Haʻena Beach Park are just minutes apart from each other by car, and actually blend into each other on the beach. While the former is home to a wonderful snorkeling pool made naturally, Haʻena is a great place to camp, swim and watch surfers on epic waves.

The east side draws avid snorkeling into Lydgate Beach Park with itʻs natural ocean pool that hold the title as the islandʻs best snorkeling spot. This amazing family beach offers places for picnics, safe swimming, the best snorkeling, and has a huge playground.

At the end of the road of the west side lies Polihale Beach Park. Miles and miles of fine white sand offer the islandʻs best seats for the sunset, and the secluded beach is great for camping and beach combing. Spend a day out here with lunch and exploring and donʻt leave before sunset.


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Salt Pond Beach Park
Photo courtesy of Jade Eckardt


Come to Salt Pond Beach Park for the best of Hawaii's beaches in one, with white sand, black rocks, tide pools, fairly protected swimming and a large lawn with food trucks and camping. This isn't one of the most remote beaches but it is the ideal beach for a long family day at the ocean. There's a lifeguard here enhancing the safety and peace, and it's easily accessible. Thereʻs restaurants just minutes away great for lunch or after beach dinner. To get here, turn left off of Highway 50 where you see a street sign pointed toward the ocean onto Route 543, then go right on Lele Road.

Recommended for Beaches because: Salt Pond Beach Park offers a quite protected swimming area and plenty of space for children to swim and play.

Jade's expert tip: This beach is on the west side and is a great family beach, so count on making a full day visit.

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Ha`ena Beach Park
Photo courtesy of jade eckardt


A truly gorgeous beach, Ha`ena Beach park is near the end of the road on the North Shore. The park offers full amenities - bathrooms, cold showers, a lifeguard, grassy lawn, picnic tables, and often a lunch wagon or two. This beach is quite picturesque, which tall green cliffs backing it, two surf spots called Cannons and Tunnels (for expert surfers only), and sometimes a little freshwater river when there's been rain. During the winter months the ocean here is often not swimmable, but during the summer it's an exquisite place to swim and lay in the sun. Even if the waves are too big for swimming here the beach is still very worth visiting. Slightly east past the lifeguard stand is some of the best snorkeling on the island at the part of the beach known as Tunnels. This is also a great place for tent camping.

Recommended for Beaches because: Haena Beach Park is magical. A long white sand beach backed by lush green cliffs and in view of perfect waves.

Jade's expert tip: If the parking lot is full look on the western end of the beach for the small dirt parking lot.

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Queen's Bath Pond
Photo courtesy of jade eckardt


Mother nature constructed this natural swimming pool right in an ocean side cliff. This is a popular spot with visitors, and is quite unique to anything you've probably seen. It's a medium size pool right on the water, and the amount of salt water that fills the pool depends on the mood of the ocean. The trail down alone is a nice walk/hike and follows a small stream. On the way down you'll see the stream, a small pond, and at the bottom a waterfall. This is where you take a left. After you follow along the cliff's edge for a couple of minutes you'll see the pond with majestic Hanalei Bay in the background. It's essential to make it clear how very dangerous it can be here in the winter months when the waves are often large. Nearly 20 people have died here which is marked on a plaque at the bottom of the trail. Queen's Bath is an amazing place, but you need to be careful and use good judgement. If the waves are big they wash right into the pond, and if you're in there you'll soon be out to see. It's best to visit from March or April through August. To get here take the trail on Kapiolani Road in Princeville.

Recommended for Beaches because: Queenʻs Bath is a deep natural tide pool on the edge of an ocean cliff with beautiful views.

Jade's expert tip: Queenʻs Bath is mystical, but only go from April till September while the surf is smaller.

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Poi'pu Beach Park and Brennecke's Beach
Photo courtesy of jade eckardt

Thanks to its proximity to South Shore resorts, this stretch of beach gets a good amount of traffic. It doesn't hurt, of course, that it boasts abundant sunlight, soft sand, incredible views, and a good mix of surf and gentle shallows. Families and teens gather to bask in the sun, snorkel, swim, and laze in contented bliss. Food is available nearby, and the park also features showers, restrooms, and picnic facilities. Thereʻs plenty of grass land along the park offering space to spend the day. Thereʻs also a huge wooden, castle like playground that children will love to spend time at.

Recommended for Beaches because: Lydgate Beach Park hold title as the beach with the islandʻs best snorkeling.

Jade's expert tip: Do not come here without a mask and snorkel, Lydgate is famous for its underwater world.

Read more about Poi'pu Beach Park and Brennecke's Beach →


Anini Beach County Park
Photo courtesy of Jade Eckardt

Thanks to a substantial protective reef, this North Shore beach is one of the area's most popular for watersport novices. The three-mile-long stretch of beach invites folks to sunbathe and enjoy the weather, while the shallow waters are perfect for sheltered swimming, snorkeling, and even windsurfing. Cliffs provide a dramatic backdrop to the shoreline, and available facilities include restrooms and showers, picnic sites, a park, a campground, and a polo field. The end of the beach is home to a river, where local children like to wade with a net and try to catch fish. Along the beach swing hanging from trees offer a lovely place to hang out.

Recommended for Beaches because: Beautiful Anini Beach is extremely long, offering plenty of space for privacy as well as barrier reefs making safer swimming possible.

Jade's expert tip: Head to the very end of the road and beach for the calmest waters.

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Hanalei Bay

This large, crescent-shaped bay on the North Shore hosts a number of enviable beaches, which all share golden sands and clear, calm waters. The bay is protected by coral reefs, and along its two-mile stretch, folks soak in the sun, build sandcastles, and throw frisbees. Water activities include everything from fishing to windsurfing, swimming to kayaking, scuba diving to boating. During the winter, waters get a little rougher, but conditions at such beaches as Black Pot and Waikoko remain manageable throughout the year. In winter months visitors can watch the islandʻs top surfers catch huge waves far out in the bay.

Recommended for Beaches because: Hanalei Bay is centrally located on the North Shore and offers amazing views along with a plethora of ocean activities.

Jade's expert tip: Take a surf lesson at Pine Trees.

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Lydgate Beach Park


Lydgate Beach Park truly has everything you could need for a day at the beach - two protected natural swimming pools, spectacular snorkeling, white sand, amenities, lifeguard, and an amazing playground for children. This is where snorkel lovers will have the time of their lives. The underwater worlds in nearly always pulsing with life, and offers views of colorful tropical fish. The calm pools are perfect for children or anyone else who would prefer to not get knocked around by waves. Lydgate is a great place for a full day at the beach or a quick snorkel stop. It's also centrally located on the east side so it doesn't require driving far out of your way.

Recommended for Beaches because: Lumahai is a gorgeous, and often secluded white sand beach.

Jade's expert tip: Hang out by the river on the northern end of the beach, itʻs the safest swimming and where people come together.

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Lumahai Beach

Immortalized in the movie "South Pacific," this gorgeous beach garners ample acclaim for its beauty, although its swimming opportunities are less than optimal. Rip currents plague the waters, which are generally too dangerous to broach except in the middle of summer, when they briefly calm down. Still, the juxtaposition of tropical jungle and ocean panorama is certain to intoxicate any visitor, and time spent on the sands is as satisfying and pleasurable as a jaunt in the sea. Thereʻs a playground on the western end of the beach along with a somewhat protected swimming area, making this a top Kauai family beach.

Recommended for Beaches because: Poʻipu Beach Park is a wonderful family beach, complete with protected swimming and a playground.

Jade's expert tip: Bring some fish food from a snorkel gear shop and send the fish into a feeding frenzy!

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Ke'e Beach State Park
Photo courtesy of jade eckardt


Located at the western end of Ha'ena State Park, this spectacular beach is a North Shore favorite. Offering a protected swimming environment (thanks to offshore reefs), the beach is at its best in the summertime, when waters are serene. The presence of the reefs also promises terrific snorkeling and affords unbelievable glimpses of colorful marine life. The Kalalau Trail, which leads into the Na Pali Coast, begins here, and you'll also find showers, restrooms, and parking facilities. Keʻe truly marks the end of the road, so it rests on the northern end of the 18-mile long Na Pali Coast, with Polihale on the other end.

Recommended for Beaches because: Keʻe offers a delightful blend of a long sandy white sand beach, and an amazing natural pool with great snorkeling.

Jade's expert tip: Make sure to check out the snorkeling inside of the protected pool - if the ocean is calm.

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Polihale State Beach Park
Photo courtesy of Jade Eckardt


A treasure at the very end of the road on Kaua`i's West Side, is Polihale Beach Park. All together, Polihale encompasses about 13 miles, much of which is blocked off my the military. Yet the accessible part of the beach is about three miles long, and certainly leaves nothing to be desired.At the northern end of Polihale tall cliffs mark the beginning of the Na Pali Coast, the beautiful and wild divider between the north and west sides. Hawaiians believed these cliffs to be the place where the souls of the dead would depart to an underworld off the western shores deep underwater. The area by the cliffs is called Echo Beach, and a surf break fit for mid-level to expert surfers lies just off shore. Public restrooms, cold water showers, and parking is available.

Recommended for Beaches because: Polihale is a heavenly beach on the West Side, offering seclusion, space, and the best sunset views.

Jade's expert tip: Make sure to catch at least one sunset at Polihale.

Read more about Polihale State Beach Park →


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Meet Jade Eckardt

Raised on the Big Island of Hawaii, Jade has traveled the world and doesn't intend to stop, yet the Hawaiian Islands are still her favorite place. She spent seven years living on Oahu and...  More About Jade

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