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13 Best Kauai Beaches for Families

Planning a trip to Kauai with kids? Keep scrolling to find out the best Kauai beaches with the calmest water and softest sand!
This list of the best Kauai beaches for families was written by Hawaii travel expert Marcie Cheung and contains affiliate links which means if you purchase something from one of my affiliate links, I may earn a small commission that goes back into maintaining this blog.

The island of Kauai has a special place in my heart as the first island I ever visited in Hawaii. Perhaps we have Kauai to thank for Hawaii Travel with Kids after all!

Known as the “Garden Island,” Kauai is a great choice for families looking for relaxing areas that are slower than some of the bigger islands.

Previously, we picked out our favorite kid-friendly Kauai resorts, and today, we’re exploring the best Kauai beaches for families.

When I visited Kauai as a kid, there were times when we were the only people at the beach. These days, the secret about Kauai being awesome is out, and that means it is a bit more crowded.

Despite the extra tourists, Kauai still has some of my favorite beaches for kids.

Let’s go!

Don’t have time to read a bunch of Hawaii blog posts and reviews? Here are some of our top picks for visiting Kauai with kids.

Best Kid-Friendly Kauai Tours/Activities

  • Mountain Tubing (this is a low-key adventure for kids ages 5+ and it’s a personal favorite for my kiddos)
  • Private Surf Lessons for Kids (this is the BEST way for your kids to learn how to surf in Hawaii)
  • Kayaking Tour with Waterfall Hike (this is an awesome half-day adventure for older kids)
  • Luau Kalamaku (you can do a little train ride and feed farm animals before the luau)
  • Koloa Ziplining (this is the longest zipline on Kauai and a must-do for adventurous families)
  • ATV Ride (my kids LOVE this tour because you can do a little fishing, go exploring, and you’ll get DIRTY)

Best Kid-Friendly Kauai Resorts

  • Grand Hyatt Kauai (this is a personal favorite for my kids because of the water slide and saltwater lagoon)
  • Royal Sonesta Kauai (my kids LOVE the pool here because it’s the largest one in Hawaii)
  • Hilton Garden Inn (we like renting the cottages here because you can walk to a massive playground)

Want to Rent a Car in Hawaii?
One of the best places to rent a car in Hawaii is Discount Hawaii Car Rental because they get the best rates from top national companies like Alamo, Dollar, Thrifty, Avis, Enterprise, Budget, and Payless.

Want to skip all the planning and just access my detailed Kauai Itinerary, complete with daily schedules, kid-friendly activities, and travel hacks? Click the button below.

Get your copy of this Kauai travel guide for families by top Hawaii blog Hawaii Travel with Kids

Click here for step-by-step Kauai travel planning help

What are the Best Kauai Beaches for Kids?

If you’re heading to Kauai with kids, you probably will be spending some time hanging out at the beach. These are some of our personal favorites!

Hanalei Bay

The Hanalei Bay and beach pavilion is a popular choice for families seeking gentle water along one of the North Shore Kauai beaches. Perfect for children, this is where you want to go to create pool-like ease on a Hawaiian beach!

Hanalei Bay is a popular North Shore Kauai snorkeling beach
Hanalei Bay on Kauai.

While safety should always be a priority when traveling with family and young kids, Hanalei Bay is a great choice for an easier parenting day.

This area also has bathroom facilities and showers. Best yet, there’s also a grassy area for adults to picnic in and escape the hot sun when kids are still exercising their energy out on the best beach on Kauai.

The entire Hanalei area is located on the North Shore of Kauai and is considered the largest bay on the island. It’s actually one of the top Kauai attractions and is a popular photography spot.

Historically, the Hanalei Pier was used to load and offload sugar and other goods on trading ships. The pier is dated back to before 1892!

Since then, the bay has gone through many construction and restoration projects to bring it to the beautiful location it is today.

For those of us with a bit more activity in mind, water sports are also available here. Check latest rates and availability for this cool kayaking and snorkeling tour that offers some of the best snorkeling in Kauai.

Salt Pond Beach

On the West side of Kauai sits Salt Pond Beach, one of the best swimming beaches Kauai has to offer. It features a plethora of shallow pools for kids to explore. The beach is very popular for windsurfing, snorkeling, scuba diving, and more.

Salt Pond Beach Park is a great Kauai sunset or sunrise beach. Image of Sunrise with palm trees in Salt Pond Beach Park on Kauai, Hawaii
Salt Pond Beach Park on Kauai

The beach is named for its rock salt that is created from the ocean’s seawater evaporating in the shallow pools. In fact, the pools are man-made! This method of creating salt is traditional and intriguing to learn about on a hot summer’s day.

Unsurprisingly, the creation of salt in this fashion depends heavily on the weather. Hot summer weather is ideal for the process, while rain can dissolve the salt.

Today, the ponds at Salt Pond Beach are manned by Hui Hana Pa’akai, an organization with state permission to manufacture salt in this fashion.

You won’t be able to purchase the salt as a commercial product, but experiencing part of the creation process can be mesmerizing.

Poipu Beach

Visiting the best beach in Kauai is almost synonymous with visiting Poipu Beach! Located on the South side of the island, Poipu Beach has been voted among the top 10 or even the top beaches in the world and is by far one of the best beaches in South Kauai.

Top 25 Things to do in Poipu, Kauai featured by top Hawaii blog, Hawaii Travel with Kids
Poipu Beach on Kauai.

And for a good reason! Almost any sport can be explored on this beach, including surfing, snorkeling, boogie-boarding, and more. Lifeguards are also on duty seven days a week, making it one of the top Kauai swimming beaches.

With easy parking, equipment rentals, and even an outdoor playground, Poipu Beach has something for almost everything if you have time to explore the whole area. It is even one of the best places to see turtles in Kauai too!

In fact, there are tons of things to do in Poipu for families along the Southern Coast.

One of the most unique parts of Poipu Beach is its overall shape. Its sand forms a crescent, and sandbars are abundant. If you’re lucky, you might even spot endangered Hawaiian monk seals!

While you and your family may get excited about spotting the monk seals or even humpback whales, which sometimes appear in the distance, remember that endangered animals should be kept at a distance and left alone as much as possible.

Look, don’t touch, and no flash photography for those cuties!

Lydgate Beach

I grew up playing a lot at Lydgate Beach Park in Wailua, one of the best swimming beaches on Kauai, because it has two lagoons with protected waters, which makes it great for younger kids or those who aren’t strong swimmers.

It’s a great option for families that want to teach their kids how to snorkel. Not only is the water calm but there are great opportunities to see tropical fish. It is the best snorkeling in Kauai for beginners or young children by far.

There’s a nice walking path and Kamalani Playground. This wooden play structure has given my boys many hours of fun!

Lydgate State Park also has facilities and tons of parking.

Plus, it’s not too far from the airport, so it’s the best beach to get those last wiggles out before heading home. They have several playgrounds, including a new play structure that was built in May 2022!

Anini Beach

Back on the North Shore of Kauai is Anini Beach, featuring a long reef that prevents extremely large waves. Anini Beach is often visited in the morning before quick winds can harm the calm atmosphere. It is another one of the best swimming beaches in Kauai.

Anini Beach is one of the best kid-friendy Kauai beaches
Anini Beach. Photo credit: Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Kirk Aeder

Waters are shallow and clear here, with plenty of tidepools and even sea turtles to spot (but not play with). This beach is not lifeguarded, so stay alert and make sure to recheck the strength of the water before letting your children roam. 

The destination is also a popular choice for camping, with a lot of pavilions and multiple campsites.

It is also slightly less popular than Hanalei and Poipu Beach along the Northern Shore, so if you’re looking for something a little more chill after visiting those locations, look here, especially if you are looking for one of the best beaches in Kauai North Shore.

Deeper waters in Anini Beach can remain clear and lively with fish and marine life, but stay close to shore and don’t go beyond the reef as it protects from strong waves year-round. 

Ke’e Beach

For more of the top snorkeling Kauai North Shore offers, check out Ke’e Beach Kauai, which offers show-stopping views of the Na Pali Coast. The beach is a popular snorkeling spot and also features a long trail right on the NaPali Coast.

Kee Beach is a popular snorkeling Kauai beach at the end of the road on Kauai
Ke’e Beach on Kauai, Hawaii.

However, you’ll probably want to wait for summer to snorkel as winter weather isn’t conducive to enough room for snorkeling.

Ke’e beach is also known as a lagoon and is located where two coasts collide. Both the trail and beach areas offer picture-perfect views and are a must-visit for a combination beach area.

Reef fish are abundant, and even chickens can be found along with the land and lagoon areas. Awesome!

Tunnels Beach

Another one of the best Kauai snorkeling beaches, Tunnels Beach has a lifeguard on duty and is great for swimming and having fun with little ones. There are lava tubes under the water, full of tropical fish and coral worth exploring. Scuba diving is also popular here.

Tunnels Beach (Makua Beach) on Kauai

The golden sand here is great for beach volleyball and is very soft. In the summer, you will find calm waters, like most Kauai North Shore beaches.

Kauai Tunnels Beach, with its majestic mountains, is one of the most gorgeous beaches on Kauai and one of the most popular beaches photographed on the Hawaiian islands as well.

Baby Beach

Baby Beach is another one of the top beaches in Kauai for kids. While there are no lifeguards present, you will find a protected cove that has shallow waters perfect for young children.

Because it is one of the protected beaches, the waters are very calm and shallow, so your little ones can splash and play in this natural wading pool while you enjoy this tropical paradise.

It is one of the more secluded beaches on this Hawaiian island, as many will choose Poipu Beach, also close on the Southern Shore.

Kalapaki Beach

Located on the East Side of the island, you will find Kalapaki Beach. It is another one of the best beaches on Kauai for kids, with its calm waters, rentals nearby, and plenty of things to do.

Kalapaki Beach on Kauai

Enjoy a game of beach volleyball, go boogie boarding, play in the golden sand, sunbathe, or splash in the water with your kids.

It is a great beach for just about anything!

Kealia Beach

Also on the East Side, for the best surfing in Kauai, head to Kealia Beach. During the summer, on the north end of the beach, it is more calm and great for swimming. However, it is one of the popular beaches for surfing.

Kealia Beach on Kauai

During the winter months, you will find experienced surfers here testing out the waters. If you don’t want to surf, whale watching is also a great beach activity during the cooler months here.

Kealia Beach also has picnic tables, so you can enjoy a nice meal out with your family before other fun activities in the area.

Anahola Beach Park

Another one of the most protected beaches, Anahola Beach Park, offers one of the best Kauai snorkeling spots you will find along the North Kauai beaches. At one of the picturesque beaches, you will find stunning views of the mountains, golden sand, and bright blue ocean waters.

Anahola Beach on Kauai

Anahola Beach has a lifeguard present, making it one of the top Kauai swimmable beaches. While it is not on the main road, it still offers great beach access, and you won’t have to carry all your beach gear for a long time.

You’ll find some shady areas and calmer waters at Anahola Beach, making it one of Kauai’s beaches suitable for kids.

Mahaulepu Beach

One of the beaches of Kauai worth exploring with your kids is Mahaulepu Beach. While it is mainly best for experienced surfers and is one of the great snorkeling destinations, there is still plenty to discover at this beach.

Here you can take the Mahaulepu Beach Heritage Trail, which takes you around Shipwreck Beach, and will lead you through lava tubes, tide pools, blowholes, caves, and more. It is the best beach for having a fun adventure!

While it is not one of the best beaches in Kauai for swimming, it is one of the South Shore beaches where you can explore and have a nice family walk on the beach one day during your trip.

Haena Beach Park

Wrapping up our best beaches in Kauai list for the day is Haena Beach Park. It is located along the Northern Shore and offers a great place for swimming, snorkeling, surfing, and so much more. It truly is another one of the best beaches in Kauai!

Haena Beach Park on Kauai

Ha’ena Beach Park has a lifeguard, picnic tables, showers, and restrooms, making it perfect for families who want to spend the day at the beach.

Haena Beach is another one of the best beaches for taking family pictures, with gorgeous mountains, white sand, and calm waters in the background. The sunsets here are incredible too!

During the summer, the waves are calmer and great for swimming, but in the winter, the waves can be pretty strong. As always, watch your kids and stay safe!

Kauai with Kids FAQs

Where’s the best place to stay on Kauai with kids?

Kauai has several kid-friendly resorts that are perfect for families. Our favorite is the Grand Hyatt Kauai down in Poipu. Not only is the location great, but they have awesome pool areas, on-site restaurants, and even their own luau.

What are the best areas of Kauai for families?

MMost families choose to stay on the South Shore (Poipu/Koloa) because it’s known as being the “sunny” side of the island year-round. Another option is the East Shore, which is the most affordable area and closest to the airport. There’s also the North Shore, which is gorgeous but has a bit more rain.

What are the best things to do on Kauai with kids?

Kauai has tons of kid-friendly activities and attractions! Some of our favorite free activities include seeing outdoor hula shows, going for a hike, and checking out the farmers markets. There are also food toursmountain tubingzipliningsnorkeling, boat trips, and more.

What beach can you swim at in Kauai?

Some of the best beaches in Kauai for swimming include Kiahuna Beach, Poipu Beach Park, Ke’e Beach, Hanalei Bay Beach, and Lydgate Beach Park.

What is the clearest beach in Kauai?

There are quite a few beaches that have clear waters that make for the best places to snorkel in Kauai! You can find the clearest beach is typically Poipu Beach.

What is the nicest beach in Kauai?

The most beautiful beaches in Kauai are usually the nicest too! Some find Hanalei Beach Park to be the nicest beach in Kauai which gives you tons of amenities, nice waters, and plenty of soft sand to enjoy.

Choosing the Best Kauai Beaches for Families

It’s cliche, but it’s hard to choose incorrectly when it comes to beaches in Kauai.

The island has a ton of outdoor activities ready for your family, including ziplining, kayaking, paddling, hiking, and more.

Explore Hanalei Bay for the classic Kauai experience and a good dose of history. Salt Pond Beach can offer other traditional insight in a more tangible way in the shallow pools.

Poipu Beach, along Kauai’s North Shore, can offer rare animal sightings, while Anini Beach is less crowded for your relaxation. Ke’e Beach is a great final spot for hiking and activities.

All in all, these are just some of the best beaches in Kauai!

Ready to start planning your Kauai trip today?

Take a look at our Ultimate Kauai Packing List for Families. I promise it’s jam-packed with necessities for your time there, as well as tips for the long flight ahead.

Who says the traveling part of travel can’t be fun, too?

Looking for more Kauai Travel Resources? Find out the best kid friendly Kauai resorts, the best Kauai luaus, and my top things to do on Kauai with kids!