Kauai Beautiful Beaches
Kauai has more beaches per mile than any other Hawaiian island because it is older than the other main Islands. On the north shore there is an abundance of beaches to fit the diversity of wants. There are great beaches for snorkeling, surfing, sunbathing and for children. In general, the beaches are “safe” but all beaches can be dangerous in high surf. The ocean is the calmest on the north shore during the summer. During the winter it’s best to head to the Anini if you have small children or want a “safe” beach day. If your goal is to find secluded beaches, read on…
Moloa’a is a great family beach on calm days. The swimming on Moloa’a can be good. There is lots of shade available. This is where “Gilligan’s Island” was filmed and few tourists know about it. Directions: Take Rt. 56 to ½ mile north of mile marker 16. Turn right on Moloa’a Road and follow it to the end.
Larsens is a long almost secluded beach with good snorkeling. After passing thru pastureland on a well-graded dirt road, you will find a parking area. Pass thru the larger gate and walk down the gentle slope on the well-worn path. Even small children should be able to make this short trek. Before starting down, stop, and look at the ocean. Locate the channel through the reef just to the left of the point where you are standing. Once you find this channel, you will be able to pick out the smaller channels. Don’t go into the channels; there are currents. If you are snorkeling, stop and look where you are frequently. Just walking on this long unoccupied beach is great fun. The Hawaiian Monk Seal can be a common site. Remember, if you see a seal, it is resting and leave it alone. I have been on this beach when there were not even footprints on the sand. It is possible to find a nude sunbather here…ouch! If you are offended, close your eyes. Directions: From Princeville or Hanalei, turn left off Rt. 56 at mile marker 20 and left again at the beach access road. It is about 7 miles east of Princeville.
Rock Quarry is a popular boogie boarding and surfing beach. This is a local haven for surfing and there is a great clean break in summer. There is also a river inlet where it is safe for children to paddle. The beach is backed by woods and is very private. The left side of the beach has good swimming and snorkeling is great on the right side.
Rock Quarry can be a wonderful family beach during the calm season. Beachgoers need to heed the winter warnings, as Kahili is technically on the North Shore. However, the bay actually faces northeast and is somewhat protected from the winter swells by the Kilauea Point, so it is considerably safer here than beaches to the west. On the flip side, the North Shore’s summer flat season doesn’t always apply here either. As with anywhere else, just exercise some common sense and – when in DOUBT, stay OUT. Directions: Drive north from Kapa’a and past Kilauea Farms (big sign on the left side of the road). Turn right on Wailapa Road, then left on a gravel road about ½-mile from the highway.
Kahali Beach at Kilauea Bay
Kahali Beach at Kilauea Bay is a great adventure and usually an ideal spot for children. Venture out to this one however on a day without rain or the drive can be difficult. This is a beautiful half-moon bay with golden sand stretching between two rocky bluffs. On the north end is Kilauea Stream, which at low tide can be shallow enough for small children. To the right of the stream the sandy beach stretches out before ending in piles of lava rock. Children will enjoy exploring these lava tide pools. To the left of the stream is Rock Quarry discussed above. This is a great spot to discover solitude. Behind the beach the stream forms pools where children can safely play. Do not allow children near the stream’s entrance into the bay because the currents may be swift in this region. This is a fun place for children because there is so much for them to do. Directions: Coming from Princeville, just past Kilauea, turn towards the ocean on Wailapa Road between mile markers 21 and 22. After ¼ mile turn left onto a dirt road and follow it for about a mile.
Secret Beach is also known as Kauapea beach. During the summer it can be a great family beach. This is another secluded treasure where you might find yourself all alone, the colors of the water, sky and the golden sand here are magnificent. One reason however for the seclusion, is the hike required to get there. You drive only to the top of the cliff where you’ll hear the crashing waves. The path is steep in places but not the type of hike requiring hiking boots. There are plenty of roots, vines and branches to hold onto so the decent feels safe. It will take you only about five minutes to reach the beach. On the right you’ll see the Kilauea lighthouse blinking and a long expanse of beach. Because of its isolation, don’t come alone. The surf here can be treacherous, so beware. What a great memory maker! A wonderful place to forget the world. Dolphins are a common sight. Directions from Princeville: About ½ mile before Kilauea on Rt. 56, turn right onto Kalihiwai Road. Go to the left, then right onto a dirt road. Follow it towards the ocean until it ends.
Kalihiwai Beach is a great place to enjoy the water during the summer months. It’s a very good family beach. This is great fun for all ages. Small children can splash in the small pools behind the beach where they can fish, float on rafts or splash around with the small fish. Older kids love the rope swing. The swimming here can be bliss. The waves break in long ribbons over the sandy bottom, perfect for boogie boarders. Kalihiwai provides one of the nicest surf breaks but during the winter months high surf can cause dangerous conditions. There’s a river at one end where you can take a kayak up the river or just enjoy swimming in the fresh water. It is common to see dolphins from this beach. It’s a good place to run/jog/walk. Directions: There are two roads marked Kalihiwai Road that at one time formed a loop. Either one will go to the bay, but if you choose the one north of the long bridge you’ll have to wade the stream to reach the beach. The Kilihiwai Rd. before the long bridge, just northwest of Kilauea, is the better choice.
Anini Beach has great snorkeling but it sometimes can be shallow. It’s a wonderful family beach and is probably the safest beach on the north shore. On the oceanside of Anini road are miles of sandy beach protected by the Anini Reef. At several spots the road is almost on the water so access is easy. Ironwood trees provide cool shade. Anini Beach Park has restrooms and picnic pavilions, but if you prefer quiet seclusion, just drive along and pick your spot. The lava along here forms many shallow pools suitable for small children. In the winter, check the surf conditions and stay within the shallow reef. If the surf is strong, it can carry you out if you venture off the reef. It is also a great place to learn how to windsurf. Across from the Anini Beach Park is the Kauai Polo Club. Polo matches here are open to the public on Sunday afternoons. In the summer, Anini Beach is a wonderful place to watch sunsets and be all alone. This is what north shore is all about, breathtakingly beautiful beaches with virtually no people – just you and the magnificent colors, sounds, smells and sights of mother nature.
Queen’s Bath is a large pool in a lava shelf. Once off the trail you walk across lava. When it’s calm you can lounge in the pool at the edge of the ocean. In high surf watch the waves thunder and crash, but stay back, out of the pool. Directions: in Princeville, go down Punahele to the spot where it intersects with Kapi’olani Loop. Signs indicate where to park and the trail head.
Hideaways Beach is also known as Pali Ke Kua Beach. Its actually two beaches separated by a rocky point. A path located between the tennis courts for Pu’u Poa condominiums and the Princeville Hotel parking lot accesses the left side. This access begins with steps but turns into a treacherous slope. The right side is easily accessed via a paved path for those staying in the beautiful Pali Ke Kua condominiums. Pali Ke Kua owns this path. Although all beaches are public, access is not. The Pali Ke Kua side is the larger portion of Hideaways Beach. Both sides are on the Anini Reef so the waves break where the water hits the reef’s edge. Snorkelers and swimmers enjoy the reef area while surfers are enjoying riding the waves, returning back out before the reaching the reef. For the Pali Ke Kua guests, there is a wonderful barbeque pavilion part way down the jungle path. Overlooking the left side of Hideaways is a small park like area where people gather to watch the incredible sunsets over Bali Hai. Due to the steepness of the left side and the terrain restrictions allowing only the Pali Ke Kua guests, this is a real hideaways treasure. For children, go to the left side of the beach where the bottom slope is gradual and sandy. This is a wonderful place for family swimming/snorkeling and there’s lots of shade. What a great beach right in Princeville.
Hanalei Bay consists of four beaches: Waikoko, Wai’ole’ Beach Park, Hanalei Pavilion Beach Park and Black Pot. This beach has won acclaim as one of the top ten beaches in the world. Hanalei bay is spectacular! Hanalei town is located 2 ½ miles north of Princeville. If you take almost any road going toward the sea in Hanalei you will hit Hanalei Bay. Weke Road runs along the bay. Turn right to Hanalei Pavilion Beach Park where you’ll find lifeguards, showers and restrooms. At the end of Weke Road is the Hanalei Pier. Wanting to surf? This is the spot. The beach is wide, long, hard and perfect for walking or jogging. West of Hanalei, almost any road ends on a beach. The bay is popular during the winter months for surfing. Facilities are available at most of them. They are great family beaches. It’s a popular spot to jog/walk/run in the mornings. Sunsets here are amazing.
Lumahai Beach is ¾ mile long. Scenes from South Pacific were filmed here. To reach Lumahai Beach requires you to hike down from the road. The trail can be slippery after a shower. The reef does not protect this area and there are frequently currents and high surf. Swimming can be very unsafe but the stream isn’t bad farther away from the mouth. Although the fresh water stream can be chilly, children love to play in the stream. The stream flows into the ocean at a huge bluff. The waves here crash in, creating giant sprays of water and light. This is a beautiful beach for walking, shelling, sunbathing and daydreaming. Directions: Pass Hanalei on Rt. 560 to mile marker 4. Cars will be parked on the side of the road just past the 25 M.P.H. sign. To reach the western end of this beach, drive to the 5-mile marker and look for the emergency phone by the road. Right across the street is the entrance to a sandy parking lot.
Tunnels Beach (Makua Beach) is a great place to snorkel, scuba, dive, surf and windsurf during the summer. The reef is fabulous. It is actually a large lagoon protected by two reefs. The outer reef is well known by surfers while the inner reef is filled with tunnels, caverns, crevices and craters filled with sea life. Divers head to the outer reef with its drastic drop off. If you bring a leaf and move it in the water you’ll be surrounded by an array of brightly colored fish. It is common to see Monk Seals napping on this beach. Remember not to get too close. Remember to always check the surf conditions before entering the water. Swift currents accompany high surf. There’s a lack of parking so get here early. Directions: Driving past Princeville on Rt. 560, travel past the entrance to Hanalei Colony Resort 1.1 miles. Pass the 8-mile marker and the YMCA camp.
Haena Beach Park
Haena Beach Park is located across from the dry cave. It offers complete facilities including restrooms, showers, barbeque grills and a lifeguard. If you are looking for a place to spend your day from the time you must leave your north shore condo and catch that late night flight, Tunnels beach offers a place to clean up and change clothes before heading to the airport. Shave Ice and cold cocoanuts are sold in the parking lot. How perfect on a hot day!!. The reefs here are known for their abundance of the striped convict fish. The swimming is good when the ocean is calm. This is also a wonderful beach for long walks. Camping is permitted with a permit. Directions: From Princeville, continue west on Rt. 560 just past the 8-mile marker. Ha’ena Beach Park is on your right.
Ke’e is located at the end of the road. There’s tons of fish and turtles there. The swimming, snorkeling and sunbathing here are wonderful. You will find yourself under the towering Na Pali Cliffs. This is an area of extreme beauty. This is also big rooster territory. You will see what I mean when you are walking from the parking lot to the beach. Be careful to stay away from the channel through the reef on the left. Strong currents are in the channel. It’s equipped with facilities and a lifeguard. For a spectacular view never to forget, hike the first quarter mile of the hike to Hanakapia’i Beach. If you come early enough, the hike all the way to Hanakai’i Beach is incredible. Directions: Follow Rt. 560 from Princeville until it ends.