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While Kauai is famous for its dramatic cliffs, canyons and rainforests, it’s also home to some of Hawaii’s most picturesque beaches. The island is surrounded by 50 miles of shimmering white-sand coast where you can enjoy jaw-droppingly beautiful unspoiled views and a low-key atmosphere away from the crowds. Find activities for both daring and more relaxed travelers, from surfing Hanalei Bay’s waves in the North Shore to spotting whales and sea turtles at Poipu Beach Park in the south.
Note: The conditions, swells and currents at each beach vary by season, so always use caution and heed the warning signs when swimming. Before you swim, check with lifeguards or find out the daily water conditions.
North Shore Beaches
Anini Beach Park features miles of white sandy beach protected by a huge coral reef. The quiet lagoon and tranquil waters are perfect for beginning snorkelers and windsurfers. If you’re up for roughing it a bit, try camping at the park. Facilities are available, but there are no lifeguards.
Kee Beach is located at the end of Highway 560. The reefs here make for great shoreline snorkeling on calm days, or you can just take in the gorgeous view of Napali coast while you sunbathe. Kee Beach is also where you’ll find the trailhead for the Napali Coast’s Kalalau Trail. Lifeguards are on duty.
East Side Beaches
Lydgate Beach Park is shielded from the open ocean by a lava rock wall, so the snorkeling lagoon at Lydgate is a popular place for keiki (children) to play. Restrooms, picnic grounds and lifeguards are available at this family-friendly East Side beach.
Kalapaki Beach fronts the Marriott Kauai Beach Club. Pack a picnic, grab a shave ice and watch Kauai surfers ride the waves. The beach is partially protected from the open ocean, creating calm and safe conditions for kids.
Kealia Beach is a half-mile stretch of golden coast that hugs the curve of Highway 56. Its long sand-bar bottom provides a nice surf break. Swim or boogie board near the north end, where a breakwater creates a protected area. Facilities and lifeguards are available.
South Shore Beaches
Poipu Beach Park is one of Kaui’s most popular beaches, with its crystal-clear waters and occasional Hawaiian monk seal appearances. Poipu also has a natural wading pool for young swimmers. Lifeguards, picnic facilities, showers and pavilions make this South Shore beach a great day trip for families.
West Side Beaches
Salt Pond Beach Park is located near Hanapepe on the West Side. This inviting park is an ideal setting to relax, swim or explore the shallow tide pools. During the summer, generations of Hawaiian families have produced natural sea salt here from the traditional salt-collecting ponds. Lifeguards and facilities are available.
Kekaha Beach is a favorite local surf and fishing spot on the far west side Kauai. This long, sandy stretch is also great place to beachcomb and scope out the sunset. At times, strong winds and currents can make Kekaha Beach dangerous for swimming, so be mindful of the conditions.