With over 50 miles of pristine sandy shoreline, Kaua‘i has some of Hawai‘i’s best beaches. From the sun-soaked South Shore to the jagged cliffs of the North shore, the perfect beach spot is never far away. Whether you are looking for incredible scenery, sheltered swimming, or a secluded spot to relax with your favorite people, Kauai, Hawaii beaches have something for everyone (and sometimes, just for you).
The Rugged North Shore
Lush and remote, forbidding yet welcoming, the Nā Pali Coast on the North Shore of Kauai is a series of steep sea cliffs, secluded beaches, and deep, emerald valleys accessible only by foot. While the rough winter waves can make swimming here unadvisable at times (always check conditions and obey posted warnings), there are still plenty of Kaua‘i beaches to explore. In Princeville alone you can choose from easy options like the beach at the St. Regis Hotel, Hideaways Beach, or the sheltered lagoon at Anini Beach, home to perhaps the safest swimming as well as Hawaii’s largest coral reef.
Heading west to Hanalei (and beyond) you have even more choices. Hanalei Bay – a Top 10 beach as recently as 2009 – is always an excellent spot, especially for those with children. It’s sheltered waters and vast expanses of sand are perfect for swimming, surfing, and building sand castles (Tip: Stick around and catch the sunset from the pier, it’s spectacular). Lumahai Beach, featured in the classic film South Pacific, may not be great for swimming, but its panoramic views and incredible scenery are unrivaled. In the summer months, Tunnels beach below the famous Bali Hai (or Makana) peak is calm enough for spectacular snorkeling.
Of course, if you’re a trustworthy sort, you might be able to convince someone to let you in on the secret of one of the hidden Kauai beaches: the location of Kauapea Beach (aka Secret Beach), a truly magical half-mile of sand, tide pools, and waterfalls located between Kilauea and Kalihiwai Bay east of Princeville.
Golden Kaua‘i Hawai‘i Beaches
If you are staying on the eastern or southern shores – or if you just want to escape the periodic showers of the North Shore – Poipu Beach was recently voted America’s Best. Located on the almost-always-sunny, leeward side of Kauai, Poipu has golden crescents of warm sand, natural wading pools, and excellent snorkeling, swimming, and surfing. If you want to explore, keep heading west until you reach Barking Sands, where the beach literally calls to you. These 15 miles of perpetually sunny sand and dunes go on seemingly forever, and the magical, eerie symphony of “barks” that you hear is caused by the sand grains resonating with each wave and footstep.