Golden Sands and Blue Water from Bali Hai to Polihale
Kauai has the most beaches per mile of coastline of any Hawaiian Island, and these Garden Island beaches are some of the most magnificent beaches in all of the world.
From the expansive west side beaches that go on for miles to the private north shore beaches cradled by emerald peaks and waterfalls, Kauai is blessed with the finest beaches for relaxing and for beach walks, as well as for every imaginable water sport.
Popular Kauai water activities include swimming, snorkeling, windsurfing, kitesurfing, bodysurfing, standup paddleboarding, sailing, kayaking, outrigger canoe paddling, and of course the number one favorite activity, sunbathing and just relaxing as you enjoy the tropical tradewind breezes with refreshing dips in the cool and clear blue water.
Here are some of the very best Kauai beaches.
Poipu Beach Park – South Shore
This beach area in “sunny” Poipu consists of two beaches divided by a sandbar. The beach on the left is nice for kids because it protected by a jetty of lava rocks forming a relatively well protected pool with a sandy seafloor.
To the right is more open to the sea, and is frequented by swimmers, as well as snorkelers, exploring the coral reef and surfers riding the waves. There are also some tide pools along the shore that make for fun exploring.
Polihale State Park – West Shore
As wide as a football field with deep, white sands that stretch on for more than fifteen miles back toward the old plantation town of Kekaha, Polihale is an adventure and an experience. The beach is located at the south end of Kauai’s renowned Na Pali Coastline and provides a nice view of the island of Niihau, known as the Forbidden Island.
Camping is allowed at Polihale with a permit. Polihale’s waters can be rough with strong currents, so only experts are advised to swim here unless it is very calm, and you stay very close to shore.
Along this shoreline is the famous Barking Sands Beach where legends surround the reasons that barking noises are sometimes made by the sand dunes. Ancient Hawaiian burial sites and heiau (sacred places of worship) are also located in the Polihale area which holds an important place in Hawaiian history and culture.
Kalapaki Beach – East Shore
This little gem of a beach on Kauai’s windward (east) side is a great place for kids who often play in the small surf near the rivermouth. Nearby is Nawiliwili Bay where the cruise ships dock. When a ship is docked at the harbor many tourists walk over to Kalapaki and frolic in the gentle waves.
More experienced surfers and stand up paddlers enjoy the area farther out in Kalapaki Bay where there are often nice waves for beginners. Water sports equipment rentals are conveniently located right along the shoreline and the beach has a great view of the Haupu Mountain Range
Sunbathers enjoy Kalapaki’s luxurious setting including golden sands and the Kauai Marriott Resort & Beach Club onshore with its extravagant resort pool for guests. Volleyball players also frequent Kalapaki Beach as there are numerous volleyball courts.
Anini Beach – North Shore
Great for swimming and snorkeling due to the protecting offshore reef, Anini is also a popular windsurfing beach and scuba divers enjoy the deep channel where a 60-foot drop shelters an abundance of marine life.
Anini’s lovely lagoon of blue water and three mile stretch of golden sand remind some people of Tahiti with the backdrop of Kauai’s verdant mountains. Beach combers also frequent this area searching for cowries and the rare Niihau seashells that are fashioned into valuable jewelry.
Hanalei Beach – North Shore
A three mile crescent of golden sand surrounding a pristine azure bay makes this a watersports playground. Surfers, bodyboarders, and swimmers all frequent the bay as do outrigger canoes, kayaks, and sailboats.
On most days the waters of Hanalei Bay are relatively well protected from the open sea with small waves near shore and a sandy bottom that makes it fun for kids and recreational swimmers.
During the summer months the bay is often as calm as a lake. The panoramic mountain and waterfall views also make Hanalei one of Hawaii’s top beaches.
Located between Wailua and Lihue on Kauai’s eastern shore, Lydgate is one of the best beaches for small children with two protected pools.
Lydgate Beach Park is also famous for its elaborate playground that was built by the community with thousands of volunteer hours. Kids love Lydgate!
Haena Beach – North Shore
Surrounded by the lush landscaping and mystical peaks of Kauai’s north shore, this scenic beach is one of Kauai’s finest. The crystal blue and turquoise/aquamarine waters of Haena beach as well as its golden sands have been seen in numerous Hollywood movies.
A short walk down the sand brings you to Makua, or Tunnels Beach which is considered one of Kauai’s best snorkeling beaches (when ocean conditions are not too rough), and offshore is a popular surfing spot. Restrooms, showers, and picnic tables are available at Haena Beach Park.