Best Beaches In Kauai, Hawaii

Kauai is the most amazing piece of the world what we’ve seen in our lives so far – and that includes its beaches, of course!

Our ultimate favorite: Tunnels Beach

Tunnels Beach, Kauai, Hawaii

The long, sandy Tunnels Beach on the north shore has not only perfectly crystal clear water, but it also offers stunning views of the Na Pali Coast cliffs.

It looks just like a postcard! 🙂 Swimming with sea turtles and colorful tropical fish, lying on the beach with Hawaiian monk seals was a paradise for us.

Tunnels Beach, Kauai, Hawaii

This beach is protected by a coral reef which is very close to the shore – especially at the east part of the beach – and offers the best snorkeling opportunities on Kauai.

Oh, and it’s fun to explore the caves and tunnels both on land (behind the beach parking area) and in water.

Tunnels Beach, Kauai, Hawaii

For some reasons (maybe because it’s more remote and can be hard to access in the rainy season) it is not as popular as Poipu Beach or Hanalei Bay. Those are usually mentioned as the best beaches of Kauai. But this was an advantage for us, because it’s much less crowded than those superfamous ones.

Snorkeling? Definitely!
Swimming? Yes
Restrooms? Yes

So romantic and so tropical: Hanalei Bay

Hanalei Bay, Kauai, Hawaii

Hanalei Bay is not only our favorite, it is often mentioned as the best beach of Kauai in the travel guides – and for a good reason.

Everything is here what you imagine when daydreaming about a tropical beach: sandy shore, turquoise bay, palm trees bending with the wind, views of the lush green mountains and roaring waterfalls behind the bay, small pier to take a walk while enjoying the sunset colors…

Hanalei Bay, Kauai, Hawaii

This beach is not for snorkeling though, because there’s not much to see under the water in this sandy bay.

Snorkeling? No
Swimming? Yes
Restrooms? Yes

Sunny south: Poipu & Kiahuna Beach

Poipu Beach, Kauai, Hawaii

Poipu Beach lies on the sunniest south shore and it’s the most developed beach on Kauai. It is often highlighted in tour guides and I think it’s the most popular and also the most crowded beach.

Poipu is full of palm trees and full of life! Surrounded by fancy resorts, there’s restaurants and cocktail bars on the beach – and a lot of picnic benches, too.

Poipu Beach, Kauai, Hawaii

Its two beautiful bays have moderate waves as they are protected by a reef – yes, a perfect snorkeling spot!

I can’t talk about Poipu without mentioning Kiahuna Beach which is the bay right next to it. It’s very similar to Poipu except the waves.

Kiahuna Beach, Kauai, Hawaii

Waves can be higher here and what I noticed is that surfers and swimmers usually divide the bay so everyone can enjoy the waves safely – be careful, though, both with the waves and the surfers when you swim.

Poipu’s calmer water and snorkeling spots and Kiahuna’s adventurous waves were a perfect beach day mix for us.

Snorkeling? Yes
Swimming? Yes
Restrooms? Yes

Calm getaway: Anini Beach

Anini Beach, Kauai, Hawaii

This perfectly sandy north shore beach has the most calm, shallow water on Kauai. Big trees give shade on the shore, their branches are even above the magically blue water at some spots.

We have so good memories of Anini Beach! This was the place where we’ve seen humpback whales jumping in and out of the water while we watched the sunset.

Snorkeling? No
Swimming? Yes
Restrooms? Yes

In the shade of Na Pali Coast: Ke’e Beach

Ke’e Beach, Kauai, Hawaii

This hidden, remote gem is right at where hikers start the Kalalau Trail along Na Pali Coast on the north shore. This means you have amazing views of Na Pali Coast from here – and you have a wonderful view of Ke’e Beach from Kalalau Trail, by the way. 🙂

It was such a charming beach to refresh ourselves after we did our 8 hour long Na Pali Coast hike!

Snorkeling? Yes
Swimming? Yes
Restrooms? Yes

Just so lovely: Salt Pond Beach

Salt Pond Beach, Kauai, Hawaii

This south shore beach has a deep, clear, protected bay for swimming and two smaller ponds for children. There’s nothing really special about it – other than it’s a typically beautiful tropical beach and just such a lovely place to relax!

This is probably the only beach on Kauai where you are allowed to camp on the beach.

Snorkeling? No
Swimming? Yes
Restrooms? Yes

…and don’t forget to respect the ocean

Anini Beach, Kauai, Hawaii

While enjoying the beauties in Hawaii, you should never forget about being careful and respect nature whatever you do – and that applies to swimming and snorkeling, too.

I mentioned beaches which are usually safe to swim, however you always need to check the current conditions and the typical water and wind conditions of the season of your visit.

Other than that… just dive into the beauties of these magical beaches!

Have you ever been to Hawaii? What is your favorite beach?


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22 comments on “Best Beaches In Kauai, HawaiiAdd yours →

  1. Great article! Mahalepu and its hidden beach is another favorite! And Polihale was a wonderful experience, as is Shipwrecks????❤️

  2. Hey guys, I was interested in knowing in which month you visited Kauai! I’m loving all these posts but this one (and the sunset post) interest me most because you mentioned you heard whales at Anini Beach. I’m going the last week of May and wanted to try to find out if I have the chance to hear the whales for myself. Thanks and keep up these amazing posts! Your photography is stunning and making me wish I was there already!

    1. Thank you, Jessica, glad you liked our posts. 🙂 Kauai is really a magical place, we hope you’ll enjoy your visit! We’ve been there at the end of March / beginning of April. They say the humpback whale season at Hawaii is roughly from November to May, but we guess you always need some luck. 😉
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    2. As a resident of Kauai, Anini is my favorite beach.
      Humpback whales visit Kauai between November and March and can be seen from almost anywhere, especially the North and East shores. They are great fun to watch. Whale watching cruises are available durning the winter season.They summer off Alaska.

      1. Kati, you live in a paradise! 🙂 Thanks for reading and adding your thoughts. Whale watching is so much fun!

  3. Just a small correction. You can snorkel and camp at Anini Beach. The last time I snorkeled there I swam with a 3 1/2 foot sea turtle. Magical!

    You won’t see the Humpback whales in May. They’re present from December to the end of March, when they head north. They don’t eat while they’re in Hawaii. They’re there to give birth and as soon as the babies are big enough to they head north to Alaska where there’s plenty of food.

    1. Thanks for adding this info, Kathi! We haven’t done much research on when to see humpack whales in particular and different sources seem to be a bit controversial about the best time. 😀 But we were lucky to see one just randomly from the shore at the end of March. And we’ve seen several sea turtles, too. Anyway, ocean life at Kauaian beaches has taken our breath away! 🙂

  4. We are going back in July with out kids and wanted to see the Sea turtles. Where is the best beach to see these magical creatures and are they there year round or is there a certain time of the year they are there?

    1. That’s great, Kauai is a paradise, you’re going to have a fabulous time!
      We’ve seen sea turtles several times on different beaches – on Tunnels Beach, Anini Beach and Poipu Beach. We don’t know about any certain time of the year and as we know you can see them on any of the beaches in Kauai. You need some luck, too. 🙂 Our favorite snorkeling spot was Tunnels Beach as the water there is shallow and the coral reef is very close. We’ve seen turtles and monk seals several times there. Not only when snorkeling they came to the shore, too. Good luck and have fun!

    2. My husband and I were just there and in Poi’po my husband swam with 6 sea turtles.. they seen to like the rocks aking the shore line.
      We also saw about 40 humpback whales while on a boat tour of the Napali Coast.. truley an a magical paradise.

      1. 40 humpback whales? That’s an impressive catch! We’ve discovered part of Na Pali coast on foot and also seen it from helicopter, the only thing we missed is a boat tour, haha. But it’s not hard to imagine how stunning it could be. 🙂

  5. Our favorite boat tour is to go from Hanalei in the summer along the NaPali. They use the rigid inflatables that are smaller and can go in and out of the sea caves and under waterfalls. No whales in the summer though!

  6. Just returned from first trip to Kauai. Went to all these beaches – weather and surf conditions are important as noted – but surprised not to see Hideaway’s Beach listed. It was my favorite. Intimate, Billygoat access (but with ropes to help you up the cliff) – great snorkeling, fully protected by reef, beach access to water and you can swim from there to Queen’s Bath.

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