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19 Gorgeous Kauai Beaches That Will Take Your Breath Away

Planning a trip to Kauai? You won’t want to miss these 19 must-see Kauai beaches. Scroll to check them out!
This Kauai beaches post 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.

It’s time. You’ve been planning for months, maybe even years, and now you’re finally here. It’s Kauai time!

Kauai is the most beautiful island in the Hawaiian archipelago and one of the most beautiful places on Earth. There are so many beaches on Kauai to visit! But we’ve narrowed it down to 20 gorgeous Kauai beaches that will absolutely take your breath away!

If you’re planning your first trip to Kauai, or just want to revisit some of the most gorgeous beaches on Earth, then this blog post is for you!

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

Popular Kauai Tours/Activities

Favorite Kauai Resorts/Hotels

  • Grand Hyatt Kauai (this Poipu resort has a luxurious pool area, romantic restaurants, and a stunning ocean view)
  • Koloa Landing Resort (this is a luxury resort with an amazing pool area and truly spacious rooms)
  • Royal Sonesta Kauai (we LOVE the pool here because it’s the largest one in Hawaii)

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19 Amazing Kauai Beaches You Have to See to Believe

Do you want to see some gorgeous Kauai beaches? You’re in luck! These are just a few of the beautiful beaches in Kauai worth a peek!

1. Polihale State Park

One of the favorite hangout spots among locals is Polihale State Park, who often go there to chill at the weekend.

One of the best places to watch a Kauai sunset is Polihale Beach. Image of Polihale Beach on Kauai, Hawaii
Polihale Beach on Kauai, Hawaii

Located at the end of Highway 50, which is on the south side of Kauai, the sandy beach is very quiet, lacking the noise that comes with a fully serviced beach.

Visitors are often seen bringing their own camping chairs and little umbrellas. That’s so they can sit in to watch the waves. Surfing is usually left to the professionals and experienced surfers who can brave it. There’s also a calmer section of the water dedicated to swimming and snorkeling.

2. Salt Pond Beach Park

Salt Pond Beach Park is one of the best beaches for families to visit in Kauai. With beautiful white sands and calm, easy water, Salt Pond gives parents the chance to relax as their children find plenty to do as the day flies by.

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

Not only do lifeguards watch the waters, but there are also reefs that keep the pond calm all year round. Thanks to the reef, there are lots of colorful reef fish, starfish, moray eels, and black sea cucumbers around to swim with when you go snorkeling.

This is definitely one of the best places to snorkel in Kauai, so be sure to bring your snorkel gear!

The Kauai sunset here is also breathtaking to watch. And if you want to watch the sunrise on this beach, there are convenient facilities where you can spend the night.

3. Anini Beach

Not as popular as Salt Pond, Anini Beach is a quiet beach with soft sand. It’s framed perfectly by calm water and a feeling of tranquility. The water is crystal clear and harbors a wide range of sea creatures, from tropical fish to sea turtles.

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

Quite mild, even children can come out into the water and splash around. The beach area is divided into two; a well-catered side with more modern conveniences and a remote section that is quiet and undisturbed. This is the section of the beach where most of the snorkeling takes place.

Since it is one of the most protected beaches, Anini Beach Kauai is another one of the Kauai snorkeling beaches and one of the best Princeville beaches to enjoy. If you want to snorkel during your trip, this is one of the top snorkeling destinations in all of Kauai!

4. Ke’e Beach

Properly pronounced as “Keh-AY”, Ke’e Beach is located at the furthest end of Kauai’s north shore as is also known as Haena Beach Park. The beach is characterized by comfy sand and calm waters. Additionally, there’s a protective reef that makes it easy for visitors to go swimming and snorkeling in the water.

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

The views from this beach at sunset are amazing. In the summertime, the water is so calm that the setting sun looks like it is taking a dive into a swimming pool.

It is one of the picturesque beaches with majestic mountains in the background. You will definitely want to come to take some pictures at this beautiful beach.

This beach also forms the beginning of the Kalalau hiking trail, which extends towards Kalalau Beach and Hanakapiai Beach.

5. Kealia Beach

Located on the Coconut Coast, which is on the east side of Kauai, Kealia Beach stretches out for half a mile with its white sands that curve around Highway 56.

Kealia Beach on Kauai.

Thanks to its sand bar bottom, this beach is quite popular among surfers during the winter months and offers some of the best surfing in Kauai. During the summer months, however, the waters are less wavy, and Kealia Beach becomes a great spot to go swimming. Some people even choose to go bodyboarding, taking advantage of the ultra-low waves.

Kealia Beach Kauai also has amenities like active lifeguards, parking spaces, restrooms, functional showers, picnic tables, and more.

6. Lumahai Beach

On the North Shore, Lumahai Beach is situated at the spot where the Lumahai River flows into the Pacific Ocean.

Lumahai Beach on Kauai.

Once featured in a classic romantic movie, “South Pacific”, that came out in the late 1950s, the beach is a popular spot among romantic couples – many of whom get married there.

Although the sands are a popular hangout and relaxation spot, even for non-couples, the waters are famously rough and rarely considered safe for swimming. The eastern portion of the beach, however, is known as the Kahalahala end. This portion of Lumahai Beach Kauai has a naturally occurring rock barricade which makes it calm and safer to swim in.

7. Kekaha Beach Park

Kekaha Beach Park can be found on the western end of Kekaha town as one comes down the Kaumualiʻi Highway.

Kekaha Beach on Kauai.

The beach is very popular and attracts a lot of different lovers of sand and surf, like swimmers, surfers, fishermen, and bodyboarders.

Of the lot, surfers have the most fun at this beach park, with high waves that only pro surfers dare to manage during the winter periods.

8. Poipu Beach Park

There are amazing things to do in Poipu Kauai, Poipu Beach Park is one of the best beaches on all the Hawaiian islands and my favorite beach.

There is a sandbar that splits the beach up. The left side also has a lava rock barrier and is more shallow and great for families with younger kids.

Poipu Beach snorkeling is quite fun and is great since it has gentle waves throughout the waters. There are even some snorkeling rental shops close by too!

There are plenty of other great activities at Poipu Beach, surfing included. There are not as many large waves, so if you are an experienced surfer, another beach might appeal to you more.

Poipu Beach Park also has a lifeguard, playground, showers, restrooms, and picnic tables to enjoy as well.

9. Hanalei Bay

Hanalei Bay Beach is another stunning beach you must see during your trip. This crescent-shaped bay is along the Northern shore and features majestic mountains, palm trees, and crystal-clear waters.

Hanalei Bay Beach on Kauai

Take a stroll on the Hanalei Pier, relax on the beach, go snorkeling, play beach volleyball on the soft sand, and soak up all the sun you can.

Some of the best surfing in Kauai is also found on Hanalei Beach, as it is a great beach to catch some large waves, especially during the winter months.

To enjoy some Hanalei Bay snorkeling, try going to the outer ends of the beach to capture some nice reefs and marine life.

There are plenty of other incredible things to do in Hanalei, so be sure to check out the entire city too!

10. Kalihiwai Beach

Located near Kilauea, Kalihiwai Beach has lava cliffs on each side of the beach and is quite spectacular to see. Ironwood trees help to get this beach shade, which is nice for small children.

While it is not so safe to swim or surf here, this beach is perfect if you want to relax on the sand and capture the beauty of Kauai.

11. Kalapaki Beach

Kalapaki Beach Kauai is located near Lihue and is one of the best beaches in Lihue that is worth visiting when you are on that side of the island.

Kalapaki Beach on Kauai

The Mariott’s Kauai Beach Club is located right on this beach, but it is still a public beach you can check out. This is another great kid-friendly beach with generally calm waters.

Here you can swim, bodyboard, surf, paddleboard, and even play beach volleyball!

12. Moloaa Bay

Another one of the must-see beaches, Moloaa Bay Kauai, is unique and different from the rest mentioned here. It is lesser known and has dunes with greenery surrounding the white sand.

The waves can get pretty strong here, and there are tons of coral when you enter the water, so you might not enjoy being out in the ocean as much here, but the Moloaa Bay is quite beautiful to see, especially if you are a fan of Gilligan’s Island!

13. Kapaa Beach Park

You will find easy beach access right off the highway at Kapaa Beach Park. During the summer, locals come here with their kids and enjoy splashing in the calm lagoon. However, it can have stronger currents during the winter, so be extra cautious. You might spot some kite surfers, though!

Here you will find a walking trail to enjoy the beauty of this great beach. This is another lesser-known beach but is quite beautiful and definitely worth visiting!

14. Shipwreck Beach

At Shipwreck Beach Kauai, you can capture some pretty stunning sunsets. Along the Southern coast, this beach is the perfect spot for surfers and body surfing.

Shipwreck Beach on Kauai

You will want to see this beach if you plan on hiking the Mahaulepu Beach Heritage Trail and want to take a nice walk along the beach.

This is another one of the South Shore beaches you probably won’t swim at, but is one of the beaches in Kauai worth exploring! Be sure to stop by at night to see a Hawaiian sunset along the ocean.

15. Secret Beach (Kauapea)

Also known as Kauapea Beach, Secret Beach Kauai, is another one of the best beaches in Kauai to explore! There is no easy beach access; you have to hike to get here, but it is definitely worth it!

This is one of the only Kauai North Shore beaches that can have a waterfall, especially after a nice rainstorm. If you are up for an adventure, try Secret Beach!

16. Tunnels Beach (Makua)

Tunnels Beach Kauai is located close to the NaPali Coast and is another one of Kauai’s beaches worth checking out.

Tunnels Beach (Makua Beach) on Kauai

Also known as Makua Beach, Kauai Tunnels Beach has some of the best snorkeling in Kauai! You can go boogie boarding, snorkeling, kite-surfing, swimming, and so much more!

Tunnels Beach is one of the picturesque beaches that has lush mountains, greenery, and bright blue waters, perfect for taking pictures. You’ll find picnic tables, soft sand, and a lifeguard here as well.

17. Baby Beach

Another one of the best snorkeling beaches in Kauai, Baby Beach is located on the Southern shore near Poipu Beach. Here you will find some marine life and even sea turtles at times too!

The waters are more calm, making it great for families, but parking is limited. This beach is less crowded and definitely a gorgeous beach in Kauai to explore.

18. Lydgate Beach

Located on the East Side of the island, Lydgate State Park is a great location for swimming and snorkeling and is one of the best beaches in Kauai for families!

Lydgate Beach on Kauai

Rocks enclose Lydgate Beach and make it a protected cove, making it safe and calm for the entire family. There are lagoons and some tide pools perfect for small children.

Here you will find a nice walking path, picnic tables, a lifeguard, and even a playground!

19. Anahola Beach

Anahola Beach is great for snorkeling, swimming, picnicking, and more. It is a hidden beach tucked away and is perfect for families to enjoy. The water is shallow in the bay, with some tide pools that are great for young kids.

This beach is quite beautiful with the nature surrounding the ocean. Be sure to bring your camera when you come here!

Kauai Travel FAQs

What are the best things to do on Kauai?

Honestly, there are WAY too many things to mention. In fact, I have a list of 101 things to do on Kauai, and I’m probably still missing a few things! Some of the top Kauai activities include taking a snorkeling boat ride up the Na Pali Coast, visiting Waimea Canyon, going ziplining, hiking one of the many trails, kayaking the Wailua River, and enjoying some incredible food.

Which side of Kauai has the best beaches?

In general, the North Shore has the prettiest beaches (like Hanalei Bay and Lumahai Beach), the South Shore has some of the safest beaches for swimming (like Salt Ponds and Poipu Beach), and the East Shore has a mix of swimmable beaches (like Lydgate and Kalapaki Beach).

What are the best beaches in Kauai for snorkeling?

If you’re new to snorkeling, head to Poipu Beach for easy beach snorkeling. But, if you are a strong swimmer, head to Tunnels Beach for some of the best snorkeling on Kauai. Another option is to do a Kauai boat tour, where you can snorkel near the Na Pali Coast. Take a look at some of the best Kauai snorkeling tours.

What is the nicest beach on Kauai?

There are plenty of nice beaches on Kauai, but I think the top beach is Hanalei Bay Beach Park. Here you will find clear waters, soft white sand, and beautiful palm trees with stunning views of the mountains.

What is the clearest beach in Kauai?

Poipu Beach Park usually has the clearest waters in Kauai, but there are tons of beaches with crystal clear waters!

Can you swim in Kauai beaches?

Yes most of the beaches in Kauai are great for swimming, boogie boarding, snorkeling, surfing, and so much more! You will love all the water activities you can enjoy on the popular beaches in Kauai.

Which is better Maui or Kauai?

Both Maui and Kauai offer two different Hawaiian island experiences. Kauai is full of natural beauty and is called the Garden Isle, whereas Maui is more luxurious and adventurous.

Are there any Kauai hotels on the beach?

Yes there are lots of great hotels on the beach in Kauai! We love the Royal Sonesta Kauai or the Grand Hyatt Kauai, which are right on the beach and perfect for families.

Wrap Up

I hope this list of 19 must-see Kauai beaches has helped you find your perfect beach destination on the island. The best beaches on Kauai are as diverse and beautiful as they come, so it’s important to do a bit of research before planning your trip!

Whether you want to dip in an ocean that is crystal clear or explore an area with ancient petroglyphs, there is something for everyone here.

And if you have never been before, it would be wise to spend time planning when and where each beach can be found. The amenities may make one more desirable than another based on your preferences so that your Kauai vacation isn’t spent driving from place to place trying to find the perfect spot!

Looking for more fun things to do on Kauai? Check out the cutest Instagrammable spots on Kauai, best things to do in Hanalei, and the top Kauai luaus.