Kauai is known for its beautiful beaches. There are beaches of all sizes, from tiny hide-aways to some several miles long. Some have coral reefs offering protection while others face the open ocean. Each beach has its own personality which often changes between summer and winter months. Some beaches don't have lifeguards on duty so be extremely cautious.
Ke'e Beach Located at mile marker 10 where the road ends at the northern end of the island. It is great for swimming, snorkeling, and sunbathing. There is parking here but it is frequently full. However, a number of visitors only stop a short while to take in the sights so with patience a parking spot will open up.
Ha'ena Beach Park This beach is beside the road across from the Dry Cave. There are facilities here with restrooms, showers, and picnic tables. Camping is allowed with a permit and you will normally find quite a few people camping here. There are quite a few parking spaces here. Be cautious because this beach does not have a protective reef and the waves can be dangerous.
Tunnels (Makua) Beach
This is one of Kauai's best snorkeling beaches and one of our
favorites. The ridge beyond it was made famous as "Bali Hai"
in the film South Pacific. There is a very
wide reef which gives you a large area to explore while
snorkeling. Swimming is also excellent. The problem with
this beach is lack of nearby parking and facilities.
Beach A quiet
safe beach for children and it has a grassy park. It is well
protected by a long reef. The water is shallow and we found snorkeling
to be marginal, with live coral and very few fish. Turn on Kalihiwai Road after mile marker
25. Stay to the left on Anini Road. You will see many very
nice homes in this area and a polo field across from the beach.
Anini Beach A quiet safe beach for children and it has a grassy park. It is well protected by a long reef. The water is shallow and we found snorkeling to be marginal, with live coral and very few fish. Turn on Kalihiwai Road after mile marker 25. Stay to the left on Anini Road. You will see many very nice homes in this area and a polo field across from the beach.
Anahola Beach Park Located a short drive off the main road. Turn on Anahola Road between mile markers 13 and 14. The area around Anahola is part of the Hawaiian Homelands and you will find many locals at the beach and camping out. It looks like a nice beach but we haven't been able to spend time there yet.
Kapa'a Beach Park Located in Kapa'a, this beach is fine to watch sunrise if you are staying nearby. However it isn't one we go back to often.
Wailua Beach Located at the mouth of the Wailua River, this beach is easy to get to. However, with no reef for protection be cautious while swimming. Boogie boarders tend to like this beach.
Lydgate State Park This is a complete beach park with grassy areas, picnic areas, restrooms, showers, and lifeguards. There are two ponds which are great for small children. Parking is plentiful. This is a convenient place for families to spend the day.
Kalapaki Beach This beach is in Lihue near the Anchor Grove Shopping Center. It is in a protected bay with a gently sloping sand bottom which makes it safe for families. You will find windsurfers and boogie boarders here. Nawiliwili Park is adjacent and has picnic areas. Access is through the Marriott or the road behind the shopping center.
Shipwreck Beach This beach is in front of the Hyatt in the Poipu area. In addition to hotel guests, it is used primarily by boogie boarders and windsurfers. Use caution while swimming and it's best to check with lifeguards or locals for current water conditions.
Brennecke Beach This is a small beach near Poipu Beach Park. In fact we thought it was just part of the park the first time we were there. It is great for boogie boarding and you will see a lot of turtles. Facilities are adjacent at Poipu Beach Park.
Poipu Beach A gorgeous beach which is a prime spot for snorkeling and body surfing. The accompanying Beach Park is a favorite with families and there is an area protected by a breakwater which is good for small children. Hawaii Monk Seals have come onto the beach several times while we were there. Snorkeling on the right side of the Beach is very good and coral is abundant on the reef a hundred yards from the beach.
Salt Pond Beach Park Located near Port Allen on the South shore. This beach and park are a popular spot for locals to bring their families. Swimming is normally safe unless there is high surf.
Lucy Wright Beach Park Located near Waimea where the Waimea River empties into the ocean. This causes the water and sand to be rather dirty compared to other beaches.
Kekaha Kekaha Beach is the beginning of 17 miles of white sand beach that is the longest stretch of beach in the islands. Almost none of it is protected by reefs, and there is often a strong undertow. This makes it dangerous for swimming, unless the seas are very calm (which is why it's not listed in the table of beaches above). After you pass Kekaha at the South end you come to Barking Sands Beach in the middle and Polihale State Park at the north end.
Polihale Follow Highway 50 and near its end you will see a small sign pointing left toward a dirt road. Be aware that most rental car contracts on Kauai prohibit you from driving on dirt roads and if the road is wet you certainly don't want to drive it without 4-wheel drive. It's common to see 4-wheel drive vehicles right on the beach at Polihale.
It's almost five bumpy, rough miles through fields of sugar cane and other crops to the end of the road, where the Pali Cliffs begin. After a little more than three miles you come to a large Monkey Pod tree and a fork in the road. Turn left to reach a small parking area for Queen's Bath, which is about a 200-yard walk. Queens Bath is the only reef protected area on Polihale Beach and the safest place to swim, although it's rather shallow. If you don't turn left for Queen's Bath, and continue driving, the road ends in about one and one-half miles at the North end of Polihale Beach. There are covered picnic pavilions, restrooms, and a fresh water shower here.