Where to Go and Where Not to Go on Kauai

Nothing is more important than your safety during your Kauai vacation. The island of Kauai offers a multitude of fun activities that are very safe and can provide everything you ever want on a Hawaii vacation. But there are also dangerous situations created by people going places they should not go and doing things they should not do.

To be on the safe side, always swim at a beach with a lifeguard on duty.

Here are some tips to avoid those situations and get the most out of your Kauai vacation while also ensuring you arrive back home safe and sound to share all of your wonderful memories.

Swim Only at Lifeguarded Beaches

Perhaps you will want to visit many remote and beautiful beaches on Kauai during your vacation. When you do, take in the scenery and walk along the sand a safe distance from the water, but do not swim in the ocean.

Enjoy your swimming activities at beaches with lifeguards because these water safety officers will let you know if an area is not safe and keep an eye on the water in case there are any problems.

Rip Currents and Longshore Currents

Many beaches on Kauai have rip currents that flow out to sea and longshore currents that flow swiftly parallel to the shoreline, and these currents often cannot easily be seen from shore. Rip currents and longshore currents can make it difficult for swimmers to get back to shore and can carry a person down the coastline or out to sea.

Even when the currents are not strong it is easy to become tired if you swim too far from shore. For these reasons it is best to swim only at beaches with lifeguards and stay close to shore. Check with lifeguards to know which areas to avoid, and when in doubt, don’t go out!

Even beaches with lifeguards require you to use common sense. Always use extreme caution in and around the ocean. Use the buddy system and never swim alone. Lifeguards will let you know where the safest areas are for swimming.

Kauai’s lifeguarded beaches include: Ke’e, Haena, Hanalei Pavilion, Waioli, Anahola, Wailua, Lydgate, Poipu, Salt Pond and Kekaha. (See Kauai’s Best Beaches Revealed.)

For more comprehensive details about ocean safety see Kauai Ocean Safety Tips.

Kauai Hiking Safety Tips

Always hike with a companion and stay on the main trail. Know your route well. It is very easy to get lost in Hawaii’s wilderness. Be aware that bushes and shrubs often mask steep drop-offs. Do not drink water from streams unless you first treat it with water purification tablets to kill the leptospirosis bacteria common in Hawaiian rivers and streams.

Never attempt to climb or cross steep areas. Lava rocks are notoriously brittle and crumbly—what feels solid can easily snap off and cause you to fall. Always carry a well-charged cell phone in case you get lost or injured.

Do not hike near streams when there are potential flash floods. Small streams and rivers can quickly become raging torrents of water due to rain in the uplands. Before going hiking check the weather conditions in the mountains as well as near the sea so you are aware of potential flash floods coming from upland areas and can avoid hiking at these times.

Don’t dive into mountain pools or streams. Even if it looks deep and even if you know it is deep in some places, there may be a large boulder in the pool or a very shallow area. Diving can cause serious injury! For more details see Kauai Hiking Safety Tips.

Kauai Scuba Diving and Snorkeling Tips

Follow all proper ocean safety precautions and avoid channels with rip currents that may pull you out to sea or into rougher water. (See Ocean Safety Tips.)

When scuba diving or snorkeling, make sure your equipment fits properly before entering the water. If you are testing your equipment or adjusting your gear, find a sandy shoreline area instead of standing on the coral reef. Remember, the reef is alive so do not stand on it or drag along the seafloor.

Never feed fish or any other wildlife as this disrupts their natural behavior and can harm the species. For more details see Kauai Snorkeling Tips and Kauai Scuba Diving Tips.

Kauai Kayaking Safety Tips

Learn proper paddling techniques before embarking on your Kauai kayaking adventure and always kayak with a companion. Inexperienced kayakers should enjoy a guided tour. Do not paddle out into the open ocean if you are not experienced.

Stay very close to shore if you are in the ocean on a windy day. Ocean conditions are usually much better in the morning. Strong winds later in the day can make kayaking very difficult.

Be aware of ocean currents and winds that can make it extremely difficult to paddle back to shore. Stay away from surf zones and surfers and remember that wave size is extremely unpredictable. Before going kayaking always tell someone when you will depart and when you will return, and also what they should do if you do not return on time. For more details see Kauai Kayaking Safety Tips.

Do Not Go To Queen’s Bath

Queen’s Bath is an extremely dangerous location on the north shore where waves wash up over the rocks without warning. Since it is listed in many tourist guides people often venture to the site at their own peril because they are unaware of the inherent danger.

Waves often arrive at Queen’s Bath after a long period of calm seas. Seemingly out of nowhere an oversized wave may crash against the rocks potentially knocking people down on the rocks and pulling them into the sea, and also sweeping people in the pool out to sea.

Please do not visit this site as it only creates a potential hazard for you as well as rescue personnel. You can view pictures of Queen’s Bath online if you really want to see it, and meanwhile there are many other equally scenic spots on Kauai that are much safer.

Hanakapiai Beach

While the trek to Hanakapiai Valley along the Na Pali Coast is one of Kauai’s most popular day hikes, Hanakapiai Beach can pose hazards to swimmers and is not a swimming beach. During winter it is subject to pounding shorebreak waves and currents, and during summer when the water appears calm there may still be strong currents creating very dangerous conditions.

Rip currents flow out to sea and longshore currents flow swiftly along the coast, and if you are pulled away from the beach there is no place nearby to get onto the rocky shore. Do not swim at Hanakapiai Beach. If you want to cool off take a dip in the stream, and then enjoy the lifeguarded Ke’e Beach back at the beginning of the trail.

Kauai has a multitude of safe and fun adventures as long as you follow the safety tips and use common sense in avoiding dangerous situations during your stay in paradise! Please plan your activities well and take all proper safety precautions.

Feel free to contact us at Bali Hai Realty and our Concierge Service will help you plan safe and fun Kauai activities for the ultimate Hawaii vacation.

Kauai Vacation Rentals and Luxury Oceanfront Accommodations

For the finest quality Kauai vacation rentals including luxury estates, condos, cottages, and beach villas, see our Kauai Vacation Rental Galleries or use our new Map-Based Vacation Rental Search feature.

If you are considering buying a home on Kauai you can see some of the island’s best real estate deals by browsing through the Coldwell Banker Bali Hai Realty Kauai Real Estate Galleries, or you can use the Map-Based Kauai Home Search.

Also please feel free to give us a call. The Bali Hai Realty staff will be happy to help you find the perfect Kauai vacation rental, or assist you in the process of buying or selling a Kauai home.

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  • Walt ,Chaz& Charlene Gracey


    My body may have left Kauai, but my heart will forever remain in Kauai – Hanalei is my Paradise on earth.


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