Guide to the Best of Kauai Beaches

Kauai has a diverse assortment of beaches. Depending on your preference of activities you can find the perfect spot or try a different beach each day. Below is a guide to the beaches we visited based on location, but remember! Since Kauai is such a small island, if it’s raining in one area – why not head in another direction where it is likely sunny?

South Shore

Po’ipu – Park Hoona Rd, Poipu, Kauai, HI 96756 

This beach is so great, we went there twice! We easily found street parking and headed towards the water. The area can be divided into three sections all within a short walking distance: Brennecke’s Beach, the kiddie pool, and Po’ipu Beach proper. Brennecke is a small crescent known for boogie boarding and body surfing, however the waves looked really rough on our winter visit. We kept walking across a grassy field past the roosters, playground, and bathroom facilities and found ourselves by a very shallow protected area where all the children and their parents were – a great spot for families. Naturally I dubbed it the kiddie pool. This area is worth a moments look because the clear shallow waters can be great for spotting fish. Keep walking to find the sweet spot – open water with mild and predictable waves great for swimming and cooling off.

poipu_beach_kauaiPeople were respectfully enjoying drinks in the ocean, hanging out in tubes, swimming, body surfing, and snorkeling. Anyone can find an activity that suits them at this beach. There are a few scattered rocks on the bottom, so be careful! The first day we laid out our towels on the sand. The beach is in front of a resort, so it is a bit crowded. Normally I run from crowds, but the warm and peaceful waters were worth it. On our second visit we were so at home there, we ventured to stretch out on a resort lounge chair and use their showers to wash off our feet! No one seemed to mind, and we were all the more comfortable. This beach is excellent for almost everyone, unless you can’t stand a crowd.

Shipwreck – Public lot at the end of Ainako Street, Koloa

Although this beach is right next to a resort, there is a public parking lot, public access, and facilities. It is a great place for boogie boarding and body surfing. If you feel the urge to walk about, there is a fantastic hike that begins right at the end of the beach!

Glass Sand – Aka Ula St Eleele, HI 96705

I found this to be up there with the group of most unique beaches in Hawaii. Other islands in the state have green, red, black sand – Kauai has glass sand. The beach is found in an industrial area and you park on the dirt road. It is rocky and wavy, not recommended for swimming, however still well worth a visit if you are a beachcomber.

glass_sand_beach_hawaiiThe length of beach is short and can be walking in just a few minutes. Keep your eyes open for large patches of sea glass!

glass_sand_beach_hawaii_1The glass is safe to walk on, worn soft from the ocean waves. It is coarse and feels great underfoot. A handful can produce big chunks of glass, or careful picking can turn out a rainbow of little gems.

glass_sand_beach_kauaiWhen we first got to the beach we had it all to ourselves. After just a few minutes the little beach seemed packed! Go early for best pickings.

East Shore

Lydgate – 4470 Nalu Rd Kapaa, HI 96746

lydgate_beach_hawaiiBalance is important in life and at the beach. At Lydgate you will find a nice mixture of locals and tourists hanging out. You will have your choice of protected or open water to swim in.

lydgate_beach_kauaiSwimming in the calm lagoon like waters you may see a great variety of fish, so bring snorkel gear if you have it. You like people? There is a populated part of the beach. Do you prefer seclusion? Take a walk and you may not see a soul. On your walk you may notice some interesting driftwood, bonus!

lydgate_beach_driftwoodThere is a parking lot, facilities, and a grassy picnic area for your convenience.

Anini – Anini Road, off Kalihiwai Road, Kalihiwai, HI 96754

Winner of the prettiest beach award! This quiet beach has crystal clear waters as far as the eye can see.

anini_kauai_beachThere is street parking (which is plentiful) and no restroom facilities, so you can imagine this beach is much quieter. The water is very shallow way out, so it may not be the best for swimming, but you can definitely get in and cool down. The calm water is just deep enough to be ideal for snorkeling. Actually, this was one of the best snorkeling spots we found. The farther out you go the bigger the fish are, Jeff spotted huge moray eel here!

anini_beach_hawaiiYou really don’t need to go out past your ankles to see fish. Nature is everywhere on Kauai, just take a walk up and down the beach and see what you find. We found crabs, barnacles, pretty spider webs, and gorgeous trees.

anini_beach_kauaiIn fact, this was one of the only beaches that had trees for shade we visited on Kauai. A bit of reprieve from the sun helped us to stay at this beach much longer. If you walk the length of the beach you can spot the Kilauea Lighthouse in the distance.

anini_beach_kauai_2A sure slice of heaven waits for you at Anini Beach.

West Shore

Salt Pond – Lokokai Rd Hanapepe, HI 96716

One of the few places you can safely swim towards the west side of the island, this beach is ideal for taking a dip after you visit to Waimea Canyon (or any other activities in the west). Here you’ll find a crescent sandy beach and rocks piled high to make the sparkling waters a protected swimming lagoon.

salt_pond_kauaiBe sure to explore the tidepools along the rocks. This is a popular beach with the locals as well as the tourists. There is a large parking lot, facilities, and picnic area.

Polihale State Park – Kaumuali’i Highway, Hwy 50, Waimea, Kauai, HI 96796

The western most accessible part of Hawaii, this beach is renowned for its sunsets. To get there you must drive a four mile dirt road with deep gullies, and it could take you up to 40 minutes if you try to take a 2WD like we did! Lucky for us we took it slow and didn’t have any problems. We did see people get stuck running up into the sand, never drive a 2WD into soft sand. If you do get stuck out here with a rental car, you’re on your own paying for any damages. I definitely recommend taking a 4WD. When you get past the long road and out to the beach you are in for a real treat. Its remote and pristine, the longest stretch of beach in the entire state of Hawaii.

Polihale_beach_kauaiLooking out you will undoubtedly notice the cliffs.

Polihale_State_park_kauaiThis is the last beach before the Na Pali Coast, only accessible by boat. The water is known for its strong currents, and due to its remote nature it is not recommended for swimming because no one will be around to help in case of a hazardous situation. Come here to walk the beautiful beach and catch that amazing sunset, with the privately owned Ni’ihau Island, out there in the hazy backdrop.

Polihale_sunset_kauaiSpot the tiny uninhabited Lehua Island just less than a mile away from Ni’ihau.

Polihale_state_park_beach_kauaiIt will certainly be a sight you won’t soon forget, just make sure you are prepared for the journey.

North Shore

Winter months mean strong currents on the north shore of Kauai, so we decided to simply walk beaches in the area including Hanakapiai Beach, Hanalei Pier, and Queen’s Bath.

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One Response to Guide to the Best of Kauai Beaches

  1. findingnyc says:

    Really love your discovery of the sea glass beach – what a special find! The colors are beautiful.

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