This post may contain some affiliate links, which means I’ll make a little money on anything you choose to purchase. But of course, I only recommend my absolute favorites to you. Thank you for supporting the brands that make Hulaland possible.
Most people come to Kauai for sunshine and beaches…and these beaches sure don’t disappoint! Kauai’s beaches have some of the most gorgeous backdrops you’ll find anywhere in the world.
A word about Kauai’s beaches though…surprisingly, many of Kauai’s beaches aren’t considered swimmable or they have rough currents and rip tides that you need to watch out for. Always check conditions before you get in the water!
With that being said, here are 10 Kauai beaches that I think you really need to check out:
The north shore is my favorite part of the island and it’s where many of my favorite beaches are located. This is the lushest part of the island but that’s because it’s the wettest. That means beautiful beaches but not always the best beach weather.
Ke’e Beach: This is as far as you can go on the north shore. This is an excellent snorkeling and swimming beach as it’s completely protected by a reef. It also has great amenities (restrooms, showers, picnic tables, etc.) and it’s the trailhead for the Kalalau Trail (the famed Napali Coast hike). If part of your group wants to opt out of the four-mile hike, this is an excellent place to hang out. Parking used to be first come first serve, but after the massive flooding in April 2018, the county took the opportunity to redo the infrastructure when they redid the road. You now either need a parking reservation or a reservation on the shuttle from Princeville to arrive at Ke’e Beach.
RELATED: Not very familiar with Kauai? Read up on the lay of the is(land) and where to stay plus my favorite beach resorts, budget hotels, Airbnbs, honeymoon resorts, family friendly resorts, luxury resorts, and boutique hotels.
Tunnels Beach: Also called Haena Beach Park, a little ways down from Ke’e Beach is what’s probably the best snorkeling on Kauai. It’s hard to find the entrances (two dirt roads with minimal parking), but what you’ll notice are all the “no parking” signs. That’s how you know you’re near. The beach is wide and gorgeous and the green mountains form the perfect backdrop down at the west end. There’s a fairly large parking lot here and you don’t need a reservation however it fills up pretty quickly and they’re very strict about handing out tickets for parking illegally.
Lumahai Beach: South Pacific made this golden stretch of sand famous and it’s a stunner but not much good for swimming.
Hideaways: Just finding this beach is an adventure in itself. It’s in Princeville (make the turn into the resort area where you see the sign for the St. Regis off the main road). You’ll go about two miles through Princeville and then turn right into a tiny little parking lot just before you reach the St. Regis’ guard shack. Just outside the parking lot, you’ll see a small pathway between the two fences. You’ll need good shoes to do this little trail (not flip flops!). There’s a pretty sketchy staircase you have to navigate before you get to the series of rope handles that will lead you to the hidden beach. Don’t miss this one!
RELATED: Need a packing list for Kauai? Find my best packing advice here.
The beaches on the east side are a lot more open and easy to spot. They also tend to be longer stretches that are good for strolling.
Lydgate Beach: This is the major beach on the east side and has a ton of amenities. You’ll find restrooms, picnic facilities, playgrounds, showers, and a couple of protected ponds that are great for swimming.
The south side as some of Kauai’s most swimmable beaches and always has nearly perfect weather (hot and sunny).
Poipu Beach: Poipu beach is the central beach hub in South Kauai. It’s a beautiful golden beach with perfect facilities (plus food and beach rental places across the street). This is probably the best spot in south Kauai to spend a beach day, as it’s so easily accessible, it has nice snorkeling, and it’s a popular spot to see sea turtles and Hawaiian monk seals.
Maha’ulepu Beach: This is my favorite “adventure” beach in south Kauai, meaning getting here is half the fun. It’s a hidden little spot and it takes a little trek to get to so it’s likely you’ll have it all to itself. To access Maha’ulepu, go down Poipu road past the Hyatt (the road will turn to dirt) and park at a little pullout right before you get to the stables. Take the dirt road to the left and it’s a short hike down to the beach. There’s also a trail to Makauwahi Cave. Many days it’s open for tours, but if it isn’t you can still view it from above (it’s an open roofed cave).
Wish you had a go to resource for the best spots in Hawaii? I’m talking snorkeling spots, trailheads, hidden beaches, local restaurants, and more! Sign up for my newsletter to access to my library of Hawaii Google Maps. I’ll also send you the latest and greatest Hawaii news, brand new things to do, special weekly deals and more. You don’t want to miss out on this! So sign up below!
Kauai’s west shore is pretty much one continuous beach but conditions seem a little harsh to me (it’s arid and sunny with pretty much no shade in sight). But if you’re on the west side, there are a couple of spots you should see.
Glass Beach: This is more of a novelty than anything. Located at the end of Aka Ula road in Port Allen, this spot (actually located right behind an industrial park) features the remains of broken up bottles and other glass. It’s a good spot for beach combing but not much else.
RELATED: 15 Things to Do on Kauai
Polihale Beach: This is the gem of the west side (and possibly all of Kauai). This 12-mile stretch of sand runs into the Napali Coast so you’ll have some lovely views. You’ll have to go out of your way to get here (it’s pretty isolated) and it can be brutally hot, so plan to pack it all in (chairs, shade, drinks, snacks, etc.) and pack it all out.
Feeling a little overwhelmed with trying to plan the perfect Kauai itinerary? I’ve got just the thing for you!
Kauai Bound! I’ve put together the BEST Kauai itineraries you’ll find anywhere! These are the itineraries I use on my trips to Kauai (plus a few tweaks because hindsight is 20/20 right?) and they’re perfect for first time and repeat visitors who want to see the very best of Kauai.
Check it out here.
I’ve included everything from the best snorkeling spots, beaches, and excursions and it’s all broken down by each part of the island so you won’t waste any time backtracking.
So what exactly do you get? With Kauai Bound, you’ll get FOUR six day itineraries: 1) classic Kauai itinerary, 2) Kauai honeymoon itinerary, 3) Kauai for adventure seekers itinerary, and 4) Kauai foodie itinerary. I’m not just talking about a bullet point list of to dos. Each itinerary comes with 10-15 pages of commentary explaining why I recommend doing certain things (plus various options to suit your interests). Each itinerary also comes with its own Google Map (broken down by day). You’ll also get an itinerary template that you can use to make your own, along with extensive tips on creating your own itinerary, a huge list of things to do on Kauai, and directions for making your own Google Maps.
This is basically vacation in a box, friend! Just add a bit of salt water and you’re in for the trip of a lifetime!
Click here to grab the Kauai Bound itinerary bundle.
Love this post? Pin it for later!