Guide: Best Beaches in Kauai
Known as the “Garden Isle”, Kauai is geologically the oldest Hawaiian island, Over the years, Kauai has become our favorite Hawaiian island to enjoy hiking and beaches due to how stunning the landscape is and how low-key it is compared to Oahu and Maui. Those who love the outdoors and nature will love visiting Kauai to visit the Waimea Canyon, Na Pali Coast, waterfalls, and to enjoy the beaches. In this post we will tell you about our favorite beaches on Kauai to help you plan your beach visits.
Best overall beach – Salt Pond Beach:
Salt Pond Beach is located on the southern part of the island near Port Allen. We recommend accessing the beach and facilities at Salt Pond Park. Of all the beaches we have visited in Kauai, this one offers the best leisurely swimming opportunities for all ages due to how calm the water is, the sandy bottom and shallow spots in the bay. If you’re going to spend a day at the beach, Salt Pond Beach offers good facilities; picnic tables, shade, BBQs, bathrooms and showers. There is also ample parking and while it’s a popular place, it doesn’t get too crowded. If you are planning on watching the sunset, you do get a glimpse of it from here as it faces west.
Most scenic beach – Hanalei Bay Beach:
Hanalei Bay is the largest bay on the island and located in the northern part. We recommend accessing the beach and the facilities from Waioli Beach Park but you can also use Hanalei Beach Park. Most of the times we’ve visited, we’ve been able to enjoy leisurely swims but the lifeguard did warn us of a swell coming in that would create a heavy undertow so exercise caution. With soft sand and clear water, you’ll enjoy absorbing the views of the mountains in the background. It is a popular beach but we’ve never felt that it was overcrowded. There isn’t lots of shade on the beach but there is shade near the parking lot if needed. In between swims, we usually wander into town and have lunch at Turmeric Indian Café for delicious and healthy Indian food for vegans and meat eaters. The parking lot is very small but it is very easy to find street parking.
Best beach for watersports – Kalapaki Beach:
Kalapaki Beach is located on the south-east part of the beach near Lihue Airport. We recommend accessing the beach and facilities at Nawiliwili Park. Kalapaki Beach offers lots of leisure activities: stand-up paddle boarding, surfing, boogie boarding, kayaking and just leisurely swimming. While it’s in a bay, it’s pretty sheltered and easy to gage the size of the waves most of the time but you should exercise caution and be ready to dive under when in doubt. The sand is soft and the water is clear depending on how much rain has fallen. Because this beach is right in front of the Marriott resort, other hotels and so close to Lihue, it is more crowded than some of the other beaches but it is possible to find your own space. There isn’t any shade on the beach but there is in the nearby vicinity. Street parking here is a little but more difficult but not impossible to find a spot.
Good for snorkeling – Poipu Beach:
Source: Poipu Beach
Poipu Beach is located on the southern part of the island near the Poipu resort area and is comprised of two bays. We recommend accessing the beach and facilities at Poipu Beach Park. To snorkel and swim, it is recommended to stay to the left of the sandbar as the area to the right has rougher surf and it can get pretty rough some days and in some spots. Both bays have sandy bottoms but there is coral and rocks in some spots. This area has many resorts and vacation home rentals but it is possible to walk along the shoreline to end up at the Sheraton where this another bay where swimming is possible at times when the surf is calmer. This is a very popular beach for locals and all the tourists staying nearby so it can get crowded at times. There isn’t any shade on the beach and it’s harder to find due to all the resorts with waterfront property and beach chairs here. Street parking here is a little but more difficult but not impossible to find a spot.
If you want to pin any of these beaches to your Google Map, just click on the link in the title and you will be taken to the Google Map listing.
Have you visited any of these beaches? What is your favorite beach on Kauai?
- Guide: Best Beaches in Kauai
- Poke in Hawaii: Options for Kauai, Maui and Oahu
- Hiking the Awa’awapuhi Trail in the Koke’e State Park, Kauai
- Review: Anahola Huli-Huli Chicken and a Beach Picnic in East Kauai
- Review: Cafe Turmeric, Hanalei, Kauai
- Review: The Fresh Shave, Kauai, Hawaii
- Our Top 10 Pools: Enhance Your Hotel Stay
- Destination Guide to Oahu: Waikiki and Beyond
- Where to Eat and Drink on Oahu in Hawaii
- Getting Around on Oahu in Hawaii: Should you rent a car?
- Where to Stay on Oahu: Waikiki and Beyond
- Guide and Tips: Beaches and Hikes on Oahu
- The Big Island of Hawaii – Kilauea Volcano and 5 Other Things You Need to Know
- The Big Island of Hawaii – Where to Eat and Drink
- Review: The Westin Hapuna Beach Resort, Big Island Hawaii