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20 Best Kauai, Hawaii Beaches that Promise Amazing Views

Ahhhhhh Kauai, Hawaii has got to be one of the most magical places on earth! It’s natural beauty will blow you away. Of course, that includes those gorgeous sandy beaches! Here’s a rundown of the best Kauai, Hawaii beaches.

Looking for a great swimming beach? Check.
What about beaches perfect for snorkeling? Yep.
Surfing or boogie boarding? Got those too.
Picturesque beaches worthy of posting to social media? Of course!

Whether you’re headed to Kauai for relaxation or adventure, there’s a perfect beach – or 2 – to check out during your trip. From natural beauty to a developed and polished shoreline, and everything in between, here are 20 of the best beaches in Kauai.

Kauai Beaches – best of the best

Kauai is a dream destination, and you’re in for a real treat! Kauai’s majestic Na Pali Coast and stunning beaches make for a perfect vacation spot. These are the beaches I’ve enjoyed the most during my trips to Kauai over the years.

sunset in kauai poipu
Sunset along the Kiahuna Beach in Southern Kauai

This article will cover Kauai, Hawaii beaches for:

  • Kauai north shore beaches
  • South Kauai beaches
  • Best beaches in Kauai for swimming
  • And more beautiful Kauai beaches!

If you like snorkeling or diving, here’s a list of the best snorkeling beaches in Kauai.

Each Kauai beach on this mega list will include:

  • address or navigation directions
  • if there’s restrooms and outdoor showers
  • whether or not water shoes are are necessary

Kauai beaches map

This article covers beaches across the island. But sometimes it’s easier to see it on a map!


Kauai North Shore Beaches

Let’s start on the north shore of Kauai. Famous for it’s magnificent waves during the winter months and it’s calm beauty in the summer, north shore beaches are great for all kinds of water activities.

Many Kauai north shore beaches can be difficult to find parking or will require a hike to get to. But that just makes them more unique and often times secluded!

1. Hideaway Beach

hideaway beach kauai
Beautiful and secluded Hideaway Beach, Kauai

Starting this list off with a bang! This is my favorite beach on Kauai. Hideaway Beach is a small, remote beach only accessible via hike. And it’s a steep hike not for everyone.

This is one of the best Kauai swimming beaches.

The water at Hideaway Beach is stunning. I mean, the deep blue ocean in almost all of Kauai is beautiful, but the teal colored waters against the coral at Hideaway Beach is gorgeous! Oh yea, and the beach also has great snorkeling, too.

Getting to Hideaway Beach is a challenge. It’s on the North Shore, in the Prineville area with extremely limited parking. There’s hefty parking fine if you park outside of the designated spots, plus it’s disrespectful, so just don’t.

Address: navigate to Hideaway Beach, Princeville, HI 96722
Restrooms and outdoor showers: no
Water shoes: not necessary for the beach, but good to have traction for the hike

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    2. Anini Beach Kauai

    Anini Beach Kauai
    Sunset at Anini Beach, Kauai

    Known for amazing snorkeling, Anini Beach is one of the larger beaches on the island. It’s great for families with smaller kids, as the waves at Anini Beach are some of the smallest on Kauai.

    This beach is very accessible and there’s generally ample parking, which is a bonus.

    Make sure you pack your snorkel gear for this beach! My husband and I travel with snorkeling equipment when we hit a beachy destination. Here’s my favorite snorkel gear from Amazon.

    Pro tip: do not stand or step on the coral at Anini Beach! Coral is very fragile and stepping on it is detrimental to the health of the ocean.

    Address: navigate to Anini Beach, Kalihiwai, HI 96754
    Restrooms and outdoor showers: yes, multiple
    Water shoes: sandy beach doesn’t require water shoes, use caution on rocky areas


    3. Tunnels Beach Kauai

    Makua Beach north shore kauai
    Makua Beach on the North Shore of Kauai

    Also known as Makua Beach, Tunnels Beach is another great snorkeling beach. Generally the waves on the North Shore are rougher and larger, but not at Tunnels Beach.

    There’s a large reef at Tunnels Beach which breaks up the surf and allows for ideal snorkeling and scuba diving conditions. In fact, the reef system is so large it can actually be seen from space!

    I also liked this beach for it’s mountainous view and driftwood benches…perfect for a sunset! Tunnels Beach on Kauai is suitable for swimming during spring, summer and fall, as long as the waves are relatively mild.

    The trek to get to Tunnels Beach is a challenging one, though. There’s not ample parking near Tunnels Beach, and finding parking can be tricky. Be sure to be courteous to the locals and not to park on private property as you’re searching for a spot.

    Address: navigate to Tunnels Beach, Hawaii 96746
    Restrooms and outdoor showers: no
    Water shoes: definitely! This beach has crushed seashells making it very rough.

    By the way, I wore these water shoes on many Kauai, Hawaii beaches and they work perfectly. In fact, they’ve traveled the world with me and lasted many years. Find them on Amazon here.

    4. Ke’e Beach

    ke'e beach Kauai Hawaii
    Views of Ke’e Beach from the Kalalau Trail

    A perfect beach if you’re hiking the Kalalau Trail, it’s located inside Ha’ena State Park. Access to the park and beach takes a reservation and a fee, which makes it more secluded and less busy.

    Make a reservation here.

    Ke’e Beach is a fun beach for surfing or watching the waves. On calm days, swimming or wading in the water is an option, most likely in the summer months.

    Address: navigate to Ha’ena State Park, 6CC9+8R Wainiha, Hawaii, 96746
    Restrooms and outdoor showers: yes
    Water shoes: not necessary

    Related read: Best Things to Do in Kauai: Your 7-day Itinerary

    5. Hanalei Beach

    hanalei pier kauai hawaii
    Hanalei Bay and Beach on North Shore Kauai

    Well, Hanalei Bay is an icon for the state of Hawaii. With it’s gorgeous landscape views and picturesque pier, it’s a great spot for a day on the north shore.

    Hanalei Beach is one of the best beaches in Kauai for swimming because the bay can reduce the strength of the waves, especially in the summer.

    The Hanalei Bay is large with plenty of beach space. There’s several public beach access points. Plus the pier makes a beautiful backdrop to a Hawaiian sunset!

    Address: navigate to Hanalei Beach or Hanalei Pavillion Beach Park, Hawaii 96714
    Restrooms and outdoor showers: yes
    Water shoes:
    not necessary in most areas of the beach

    6. Kalihiwai Beach

    Kauai north shore beaches Kalihiwai
    Kauai north shore beach – Kalihiwai Beach

    Kalihiwai Beach is a secluded beach on the north shore between Anini Beach and Secret Beach. It’s located right at the mouth of the Kalihiwai River. It’s a beach mostly visited by the locals, as it’s generally too rough for swimming or snorkeling.

    Kalihiwai Beach is a great surfing beach, for those who are strong swimmers. The winter waves can be large, powerful and dangerous. During the summer months the surf is calmer, and swimming may be possible on very calm days, but those are few and far between.

    Address: 3069 Kalihiwai Rd, Kilauea, HI 96754
    Restrooms and outdoor showers: no
    Water shoes:
    yes


    7. Secret Beach Kauai (a famous Kauai Hawaii beach)

    Kauai north shore beach secret beach
    ‘Secret’ Beach in Kauai, Hawaii

    Also known as Kauapea Beach, this gem is a secluded piece of paradise! Secret Beach in Kauai can be difficult to find (surprise!) and requires a short but steep hike to get to it.

    It’s actually one of the largest beaches on the island, and is relatively hidden. I enjoyed the secluded experience at Secret Beach. As you walk the beach, you see an undeveloped shoreline. There’s no hotels or mega homes along the coast. It’s beautiful and raw and every bit Kauai that you’d expect.

    At the very end of the beach is a great view of the Kilauea Lighthouse, which is a fun bonus!

    Pro tip: there are small coves of water that are sheltered by large lava rocks, which provide good swimming pools. Use caution even in these areas, but I found swimming here was safer than the rest of the beach.

    Address: navigate to the trailhead address, 2868 Kalihiwai Rd, Kilauea, HI 96754
    Restrooms and outdoor showers: no
    Water shoes:
    yes, this beach is very rocky. These are my favorite water shoes for Secret Beach.

    More Kauai Hawaii Beaches

    best swimming beaches in kauai for swimming
    Beautiful sand and blue ocean of Kauai’s beaches

    Okay, for this next section of list of the best beaches in Kauai, let’s head to the opposite side of the island – the south shore! The surf is generally the opposite as the north shore.

    South shore beaches get higher surf in the summer than the winter and they’re better for swimming and snorkeling in the winter.

    South Kauai Beaches

    8. Poipu Beach Kauai

    best beach kauai poipu
    Walking out to dip toes in the sand at Poipu Beach in the morning

    One of the most well-known beaches on all of Kauai, Poipu Beach is good for swimming, snorkeling or surfing. It’s in the most sunny (and touristy) part of Kauai, on the south shore.

    Near resorts and restaurants, Poipu Beach is a great beach for picnicking and spending an afternoon on the water.

    The beach is relatively soft, so water shoes are unnecessary. Once you wade out into the water a bit you’ll encounter more coral, so you could grab your water shoes in case you’re planning to swim.

    Poipu Beach also has a lifeguard stand, so it’s a great spot for swimmers and families.

    Address: navigate to Poipu Beach, Koloa, HI 96756
    Restrooms and outdoor showers: yes
    Water shoes:
    yes for swimming, no for just beaching


    9. Kiahuna Beach (the prettiest sand of Kauai, Hawaii beaches)

    kalihiwai beach kauai hawaii
    Beautiful white sand at Kalihiwai Beach

    A beautiful, crescent-shaped beach just west of Poipu Beach on the south shore, this one’s a real treat! With soft sand under toe, this sunny spot on the island makes for a great afternoon.

    Kiahuna Beach doesn’t have as many amenities as Poipu Beach does in terms of parking, picnic tables, and such, but it’s in a great spot to dine or catch a sunset right on the water.

    Kiahuna Beach is great for surfing, boogie boarding, snorkeling or swimming. It typically has more tourists than the north shore beaches, with hotels and condos sitting right on the beach.

    If you’re a fan of palm tree sunsets, you’ll find picture-perfect spots along the beach at Kiahuna Plantation or just beyond the beach at the Sheraton Kauai Resort.

    Address: navigate to Kiahuna Beach, Koloa, HI 96756
    Restrooms and outdoor showers: yes, although the restrooms are a ways off the beach
    Water shoes:
    yes for swimming, no for just beaching (similar to Poipu)

    10. Brennecke’s Beach Kauai

    south kauai beaches brennecke's beach
    Watching the sunrise at Brennecke’s Beach

    The 3rd crescent-shaped beach in a row along the south shore, Brennecke’s Beach is another favorite on the island. With more rocks and larger waves than Poipu Beach or Kiahuna Beach, this one is more for surfers than swimming.

    Brennecke’s Beach is also much smaller than it’s neighbors, but the waves are very fun to watch. Most of the shore is rocks with just a small stretch of sand. It’s also a great spot for a colorful sunrise or sunset!

    Address: navigate to Brennecke’s Beach, Koloa, HI 96756
    Restrooms and outdoor showers: not directly – access via Poipu Beach
    Water shoes:
    yes

    11. Shipwreck Beach

    shipwreck beach Kauai Hawaii
    View of Shipwreck Beach from above

    Shipwreck Beach is one of the better-known beaches on the south side of the island. It’s strong waves and beautiful shoreline are perfect for surfing and boogie boarding.

    I’ve swam at Shipwreck Beach a few times, and each time the currents are stronger than the last. It’s truly a beach for strong swimmers or on a very calm day. The beach is really more suited for watching the waves.

    It’s also a popular spot for weddings!

    Shipwreck Beach is lined with trees so there’s plenty of shade, too. I’ve seen cliff divers jumping from the rocks at the top of the Mahaulepu Heritage Trail. However there are signs that warn against it.

    Address: navigate to Shipwreck Beach, Hawaii 96756
    Restrooms and outdoor showers: yes
    Water shoes:
    not necessary

    12. Mahaulepu Beach

    Mahaulepu beach kauai hawaii
    Views of Mahaulepu Beach from the Mahaulepu Heritage Trail

    Mahaulepu Beach is a little gem on the south shore of Kauai. Also referred to as Gillins Beach, it’s a secluded beachy area because it can be difficult to access. There’s a dirt road to the beach, however many rental car companies on the island won’t allow dirt or ‘off-road’ driving.

    Another way to get to Mahaulepu Beach is by hiking the Mahaulepu Heritage Trail. It’s actually my favorite hike in Kauai because it provides ocean views almost the entire trial. Hiking to this beach requires a 2-mile hike from Shipwreck Beach – then 2 miles back.

    Mahaulepu Beach generally has strong trade winds so it’s perfect for surfing or kite boarding. It’s also a great spot for watching humpback whales in the winter months.

    Address: navigate to Gillins Beach Hawaii 96756
    Restrooms and outdoor showers: no
    Water shoes:
    yes

    13. Lawai Beach Kauai

    best beach kauai lawai
    Seeing sea turtles frolicking in Hawaii’s waters – common in Lawai Beach

    One of the best snorkeling beaches on Kauai, Lawai Beach is a very small beach on the south shore. Known for it’s shallow water, calm waves and sea turtles, this beach is pretty much just for those looking to spend time under water.

    The beach itself is very small, and parking is limited at Lawai Beach. But if you’re looking for awesome snorkeling on Kauai, this is a great spot!

    Be sure to use caution snorkeling at Lawai Beach and respect the coral and sea turtles. Getting in and out of the water without stepping on coral can be tricky. And make sure to give sea turtles their space!

    Address: navigate to Lawai Beach Koloa, HI 96756
    Restrooms and outdoor showers: yes, across the street
    Water shoes:
    yes


    14. Kukuiula Harbor Beach

    Kauai sunset spot with rainbow in background
    Watching the susnset at the Kukuiula Beach Harbor

    Located near the popular attraction Sprouting Horn, Kukuiula Harbor Beach is a small beach and boat harbor. Because of the harbor and nearby rocks, the waves are some of the smallest you’ll find on the south shore.

    I liked Kukuiula Beach because it seems like every time I’m in the area, it’s not as busy as other beaches on the south shore, yet there’s amenities. Picnic tables and restrooms make this beach a nice one for a break from the crowds.

    The beach is comfortable for walking, but the ocean floor is very rocky so water shoes are highly recommended here.

    Address: 2691 Alania Rd, Koloa, HI 96756
    Restrooms and outdoor showers: yes
    Water shoes:
    yes

    Kauai Hawaii Beaches – we’re not done yet!

    There’s a few more beaches to cover in this list of Kauai beaches. From sunning, snorkeling, surfing and boogie boarding, let’s keep going!

    15. Salt Pond Beach

    kauai swimming beaches salt pond beach
    The pretty Salt Pond Beach on the southern coast of Kauai

    Located on the southwestern part of Kauai, Salt Pond Beach is a large beach with plenty of amenities and sand to soak in the rays. It’s picturesque with palm tree-lined shore, and exactly what you’d imagine when going to a Kauai, Hawaii beach.

    The beach is awesome for wildlife too! It’s great for watching the waves and taking quick dips in the water. Just watch out for jellyfish. The beach is frequently sprinkled with jellyfish. So check swimming conditions before getting into the water.

    Also be sure to bring your water shoes for walking on the sand. I was sure glad to have mine to avoid stepping on any tentacles.

    Address: Salt Pond Rd, Eleele, HI 96705
    Restrooms and outdoor showers: yes
    Water shoes:
    absolutely!

    16. Polihale State Park and Beach

    polihale beach and state park kauai
    Polihale Beach State Park in Western Kauai. Photo credit: Hawaii State Parks

    The largest beach on the island and even the state, Polihale Beach at Polihale State Park is a beautiful spot to spend the day. It’s the furthest west you can get before hitting the NaPali Coast, so it’s got some pretty spectacular scenery!

    It can be difficult to access since the road in is dirt. Taking a rental car is a risk considering typical contracts prohibit off-roading. It’s not recommended to drive the road with a smaller vehicle when it’s recently rained. Four-wheel drive would be best to access the beach via the dirt road.

    Once on the beach, you can enjoy picnicking and gorgeous views. Between the sand dunes and the coastline, Polihale Beach has breathtaking sunsets!

    It’s not a great swimming beach because there’s not reef system at Polihale Beach to break up the waves. Without lifeguards on duty, swim at your own risk.

    Address: Lower Saki Mana Rd, Waimea, HI 96796
    Restrooms and outdoor showers: yes, multiple
    Water shoes:
    absolutely!


    17. Lydgate Beach Park

    Lydgate beach kauai sunise
    Driftwood on the beach at Lydgate Beach at sunrise

    Located on the eastern shore of Kauai, Lydgate Beach Park is a popular spot for families. The park has more amenities than most, include a large playground, outdoor pavilion and bike path.

    It’s a fun spot to explore and catch a sunrise. I found the beach unique with all the driftwood. Old tree branches float down the Wailua River and exit to the ocean, which are then washed up to shore.

    Lydgate Beach is also amazing for swimming, as there’s a man-made rock wall creating 2 pools for swimming and snorkeling. A smaller kiddie pool and a larger adult swimming area.

    It’s a great spot to avoid the powerful waves of Kauai’s coast, while still enjoying the water.

    Address: Leho Dr, Lihue, HI 96766
    Restrooms and outdoor showers: yes, multiple
    Water shoes:
    yes

    18. Kapaa Beach Park

    toes in the sand hawaii
    Can’t beat toes in the sand in Kauai

    One of the busiest beaches on the eastern coast of Kauai, Kapaa is a popular beach with the locals. Typically too rough for swimming, it’s a great beach for surfing, boogie boarding and kite surfing for experienced swimmers.

    Grab food to-go in town and hit the beach. There’s plenty of picnic tables and other amenities at Kapaa Beach. The same bike path that passes Lydgate Beach Park goes through Kapaa Beach Park, too so it’s a great spot for a run along the beach, too.

    Address: navigate to Kapaa Beach, Kapaa, HI 96746
    Restrooms and outdoor showers: yes, multiple
    Water shoes:
    yes

    19. Kealia Beach

    Kauai Hawaii beaches
    Overlooking Kauai’s Kealia Beach. Photo credit: Wikimedia

    Just down the road from Kapaa Beach, Kealia Beach is a beautiful spot for a variety of activities. Swimmers can enjoy the calmer surf near the rock wall, while surfers and boogie boarders will enjoy the southern part of Kealia Beach.

    There’s also a lifeguard stand, which makes this a good spot for families.

    The Kapaa Beach trail goes right past Kealia Beach, making it accessible to many and also makes it feel a bit more exposed.

    Kealia Beach is great for sunning, watching the waves and beach walks. During the winter months it’s a spot to come and see the humpback whales from the shore, too.

    Address: navigate to Kealia Beach, Kapaʻa, HI 96746
    Restrooms and outdoor showers: yes, multiple
    Water shoes:
    yes

    20. Kalapaki Beach

    Kauai Hawaii Beaches Kalapaki Beach
    Kalapaki Beach in Lihue, Kauai

    In the heart of Lihue, Kalapaki Beach rounds out this list of best Kauai beaches. It’s a popular beach that’s very versatile for a lot of activities.

    Kalapaki Beach is great for swimming, stand-up paddle boarding, kayaking, boogie boarding and beaching. This is also near the port, so it’s common to see sailboats and even cruise ships.

    There’s plenty of amenities and easy parking for this beach, which is a bonus! When visiting Kalapaki Beach, make sure to stop by Duke’s for a piece of hula pie. You won’t regret it!

    Address: navigate to Kalapaki Beach, Lihue, HI 96766
    Restrooms and outdoor showers: yes
    Water shoes:
    not necessary


    Best beaches in Kauai for swimming

    swimming beaches
    Swimming at Hideaways Beach on the north shore in Kauai

    Whew! What a beautiful list of beaches on this gorgeous island. If you’re looking for great swimming beaches, there are several to choose from. Here’s a recap…

    Kauai swimming beaches:

    • Hideaway Beach
    • Tunnels Beach
    • Hanalei Beach
    • Poipu Beach
    • Kiahuna Beach
    • Lydgate Beach Park
    • Kalapaki Beach

    Kauai Hawaii beaches – that’s a wrap!

    Well after all those beautiful beaches, which will you hit up first? An awe-inspiring north shore beach? Or a sandy south shore spot? Something in between?

    With so many amazing Kauai, Hawaii beaches to choose from, you really can’t go wrong. Any trip to these beautiful islands is magical, and the beaches certainly play their part in making this island beautiful.

    Which beach will you start with?

    More about Kauai:
    Top things to do in Kauai: 7 Day Itinerary
    Stunning Kalalau Trail – Hiking the First 2 Miles
    Maha’ulepu Heritage Trail – the Underrated Hike on Kauai You Need to See
    Best Snorkeling Beaches Kauai
    Kauai’s Best Restaurants Any Foodie Will Love
    Hiking the Incredible Waimea Canyon Trail

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      the ultimate guide best beaches in kauai hawaii

      16 Responses

      1. I am definitely an island and beach person and would love to go to Hawaii. This is a useful beach guide.

      2. These are all so gorgeous!! I love that the “secret beach” is actually famous. They might need to change its name now!!

      3. I’ve been passing over Hawaii for other island trips, but I keep hearing how I NEED to go to Hawaii, and it really does look picture perfect!

        1. Julia it’s truly not comparable! I love any island getaway but Hawaii stole my heart years ago and I can’t give it up 🙂

      4. You’re making me long for the beach right now! These all look incredible and so clean as well.

        1. Ha well I hope you’ve been able to find some inspiration with this article. Time to start planning that beach getaway 🙂

      5. Whew do I need a beach right now! What a beautiful island. I definitely need to go back since I’ve only been once (pre-travel blogger days) haha.

        1. Yes Alanna! It’s such a gorgeous destination. I think it’s time for a trip back 😉

      6. This is the perfect list! I’m actually going to Hawaii in March, so this is super helpful, plus all of those beaches look amazing. 🙂

      7. Oh my GOODNESS these look like a dream! Or maybe what heaven is! There are some beautiful beaches around the world, but it’s hard to beat Hawaii!

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