5 Must-Visit Beaches in Kaua'i

beaches in kaua'i

1. Hanalei Bay (Waioli Beach)

beaches in kaua'i
Photo by Ariana Lindsey

Waioli Beach Highlights:

  • Large beach
  • Still feels secluded and surrounded by greenery
  • Great location for surfing
  • Perfect for long walks along the water
  • Great place to swim
  • Larger parking lot with street parking available as well
  • Restaurants, shops, cafes, shave ice, ice cream all within walking distance
  • Lifeguards on duty
  • Restrooms and a few picnic tables at entrance
beaches in kaua'i
Photo by Ariana Lindsey

Waioli Beach Description:

For the second half of our trip we rented a few houses just a 3 minute walk away from Hanalei Bay. Us girlies would wake up in the dark, take our freshly brewed Hawaiian coffee and walk down to the sand to watch the sunrise.

We swam at Waioli almost everyday we were in the rental houses. Of all the beaches we visited, this was the best one for swimming freely. There are no rocks or coral so you can swim without worrying about slicing your foot open or crashing into anything. I loved swimming out past the wave break and just floating there in the warm water.

beaches in kaua'i
Photo by Ariana Lindsey

We also took surfing lessons here, which was a blast! There are several companies in the area who offer surfing lessons and this beach is a great location. Usually the waves are between 1-3 feet so it is a pretty mellow location for beginners to try out surfing. And again, no rocks or coral so you can surf without worrying you’ll be bashed against some rocks.

Just remember that as with any beach in Kauai, when the tide is high and particularly rough, swim with caution and pay attention to any riptides that may be present.

Parking:

There is a decent sized (free) parking lot right at the entrance to the beach. It fills up pretty quick so the earlier you arrive the better. You are also able to park on the street in the surrounding neighborhoods so you should always be able to find parking.

beaches in kaua'i

Other Tips and Info:

  • Walk to lunch – Hanalei Bay is so close to a ton of restaurants, cafes and shops so you can easily walk the family into town for lunch or grab some ice creams or shave ice to take back to the beach!

2. Hideaway's (Secret) Beach

beaches in kaua'i

Hideaway’s Beach Highlights:

  • Beautiful clear water
  • Great place to snorkel when the tide is low
  • Difficult to access so there are not usually many people
  • Fun “mini” hike down to the beach
  • Stunning sunsets
beaches in kaua'i

Hideaway’s Beach Description:

I had marked this beach as a place I potentially wanted to check out during our trip to Kauai. While we were staying at the St. Regis, we realized that the entrance to Hideaway’s Beach was just a quick 2 minute walk from the hotel.

The “hike” itself isn’t much of a hike. Overall, it takes about 5-10 minutes to get down to the beach. There is just one tricky area that is quite steep and requires you to go a bit slower. But there are ropes tethered on either side so you have something sturdy to hold on to. The water below is absolutely gorgeous on a clear day.

While snorkeling we encountered plenty of sea turtles and other pretty fish! It is best to snorkel at low tide, however, because the higher tide stirs up the sand, lowering visibility AND you can be knocked into the coral by a wave.

Parking:

There is a tiny parking lot, which I have marked on the map, where you can park for free. By tiny I mean it fits about 6-7 cars. You are in luck however!

The St. Regis hotel, which you can literally see from the entrance to Hideaway’s Beach has complimentary valet parking (although a $5-10 tip for the drivers is a nice way of saying thank you)! You can drive up and leave your car with their valet for the day and easily walk back to the Hideaway’s Beach entrance.

beaches in kaua'i

Other Tips and Info:

  • Hike down can take anywhere from 5-15 minutes depending on how easily you can go down the rope section.
  • Check your mobility – For those who may not have good balance/flexibility (AKA elderly or handicap persons) I would recommend going to a beach with easier access.
  • Get dropped off – Because the parking is so limited (even with the hotel valet parking), if you are staying in the area it is best to have someone drop you and your party off if possible.
  • Brings backpacks – Going down the rope section is easiest if you have both hands free.
  • NO LIFEGUARD ON DUTY

3. Queen's Bath

beaches in kaua'i

Queen’s Bath Highlights:

  • Adventurous and beautiful hike down
  • Incredible views of the volcanic rocks and the crashing waves
  • 2 waterfalls along the hike!
  • Unique swimming experience in the “bath” (only when the tide is very low!!)
  • Stunning surrounding scenery
beaches in kaua'i

Queen’s Bath Description:

So Queen’s Bath isn’t technically a beach. It is a “bath” that can be found when the tide is low, created by the unique configuration of the volcanic rocks. Let me start by saying this is absolutely my favorite place we went to on the whole island. It is also the most dangerous. The rocks go right up against the crashing waves and at high tide it can be extremely dangerous to walk near the edge of the rocks and impossible to swim in the bath.

When the tide is high the bath itself is almost invisible and can be hard to find. Many people have died swimming in the bath at high tide. The waves crash into the bath and then suck the swimmers out to sea.

Even if you are swimming here at low tide, be very aware of the tide times and if you notice the waves are starting to come into the bath higher and higher it is probably time to leave. DO NOT try to swim in the bath when the tide is high or even the slightest bit rough.

The hike down can be a bit dangerous as well, especially on a rainy day. It can become insanely muddy and slippery if it has rained recently. Just like Hideaway’s beach, I wouldn’t recommend taking the elderly or physically handicapped guests down this hike. Even on a dry day you can easily trip on a root, fall off the trail, etc.

But even with all of that danger, I would still recommend making an effort to check out this location. The hike, while tedious, is absolutely breathtaking. You will want to go slow just to take in the wild nature around you and the two beautiful waterfalls you will pass along the way.

Parking:

Pretty much everything about Queen’s Bath is tricky. There is a parking lot at the entrance  (marked on the map) to Queen’s bath, but it only fits about 10-15 cars and parking on the street will quickly have you towed. If all the spots are full you will have to wait until someone already parked leaves to take their spot.

Other Tips and Info:

  • Hike down can take anywhere from 15-30 minutes depending on the trail conditions
  • Wear hiking shoes or water shoes – especially when its rainy, you will want shoes with good grip and ones that you don’t mind getting covered in mud.
  • Bring a backpack – you will want to have both hands free during the hike down to maintain balance and catch yourself if you fall; definitely no ice chests or heavy items on this journey
  • Goggles – the bath itself is pretty small, but fish can be washed in with the waves to it may be fun to take a look around, but mostly its fun to just swim in the calm water
  • Agile persons only – this hike especially, you don’t want to bring along those who may have balance issues, fall easily, aren’t very flexible, etc.
  • Parking – have someone drop you off if possible; otherwise, you can park your car at the St. Regis valet and walk about 20-30 minutes to Queen’s Bath.
  • TIDES – you must check the tide schedule before visiting; I do NOT recommend visiting at high tide.
  • NO LIFEGUARD ON DUTY

4. Poipu Beach

beaches in kaua'i

Poipu Beach Highlights:

  • Perfect location for snorkeling
  • Great place to take kids
  • Lifeguards on duty
  • Easy parking
  • Picnic tables and restrooms
  • A few restaurants close by
  • Resident seal you can say hi to
  • Close to restaurants, shops, etc
beaches in kaua'i

Poipu Beach Description:

Although definitely a big tourist spot, this beach is still a great option because of it’s accessibility and setup. There is a fair amount of coral so you can see plenty of fish and the occasional sea turtle. On the left-side of the beach there is a very shallow area without rocks that is perfect for young children to play in the water.

Young or old, you will all want to say hi to the resident seal at Poipu Beach. There is an area taped off for the seal when he is on land to keep people at a distance. Remember, they are still wild animals that can be vicious when harassed.

With a large parking lot right behind the beach, you can easily bring the family and all that beach gear. You will also find a few restaurants within walking or driving distance.

beaches in kaua'i

Parking:

There are two very large, free parking lots just before the beach so you should be able to find a spot easily. Especially if you go earlier in the morning (before 11am). From the parking lots you can quickly and easily walk to the beach so feel free to bring as many chairs, umbrellas, ice chests and kid’s beach toys as you can handle.

Other Tips and Info:

  • Wildlife – seals and turtles will occasionally come up on shore. While they are fun to look at, for your safety and theirs please do not touch them or let your children touch them!

5. Shipwreck's Beach

beaches in kaua'i

Shipwreck’s Beach Highlights:

  • Large beach
  • Easy to access
  • Rustic surrounding
  • Huge cliff jumping!

Shipwreck’s Description:

Having heard this was a spot for cliff jumping, and with about 10 guys with us on the trip, we naturally had to stop and check it out. As promised, there is an incredibly high cliff over the water great for cliff jumping. The cliff itself is about 40-50 feet high depending on the tide.

I personally did not jump, but several people in my party did and many other visitors as well. I would suggest hiking to the top and asking if any others have already jumped within the last 10 minutes or so. If there is no one around or no one who has jumped yet, definitely send someone out swimming to check the water depth and the surrounding area for any hazards.

beaches in kaua'i

This is a pretty high cliff jump so if it is your first time make sure you understand the proper cliff jumping form and when in doubt, don’t jump. A girl in her early 20’s, who was very hesitant, ended up jumping. She landed with her legs bent and ended up with a huge bruise all over her legs because of the impact of hitting the water from so high.

Parking:

There is a free parking lot right at the entrance to the beach with a fair amount of space. If it is full you may be able to park in the surrounding dirt road, but always check for no parking signs.

beaches in kaua'i

Other Tips and Info:

  • Rough Tide – strong currents and big waves can make swimming difficult and dangerous.
  • Cliff Jumping – if you are going to cliff jump, again, be sure that someone has checked the area below first. Second, you need to be a good swimmer because after jumping off the cliff you have a decent swim back to shore. Be aware of any riptides and NEVER jump without someone else in the area to be sure you are safe.
  • NO LIFEGUARD ON DUTY

If you have any other questions about these beaches feel free to comment below and I will respond with as much information as I can 🙂

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