(Note- there are far too many beaches to list but here are a few local favorites. All of the beaches listed are easily found on local Island maps and are listed clockwise starting at the end of the road on the North Shore.)
Ke’e – Located at the end of the road Ke’e is protected by a reef that makes it a safe place, when the surf is small, for snorkeling and swimming. It is also the beginning of the Na Pali Coast trail that leads to Hanakapi’ia and Kalalau Beaches, which are covered in the Kauai Activities section.
Ha’ena Beach Park – An incredibly beautiful beach but unfortunately totally exposed to the open ocean. It is a hazardous place for swimming due to strong currents so swim only when surf is at its smallest. It is also home to a popular surf spot called Cannons. Ha’ena Beach Park has full facilities and camping is allowed with county permit only.
Tunnels Beach (Makua) – The ultimate snorkeling and scuba divers beach on Kauai, as well as a favorite surfing, wind surfing and kite surfing beach.
Hanalei Bay – Not only beautiful to look at but in recent years has been chosen as the cleanest beach in America. Swim only in the summer months and only when the surf is small. It is a popular beach for surfing, kite surfing, boogie boarding and in the winter sometimes wind surfing. Catch it in the summer when sailboats from around the world are anchored in the bay. There are tree beaches with full facilities and camping is allowed at the east end on weekends by county permit only.
Queens Bath – Once a well-kept secret by locals Queens Bath is now found on most maps. Not really a beach but a large pool, perfect for swimming and rock diving, in the natural crack of an old lava flow. Queens Bath is a great spot for watching sea turtles and line fishing. It is accessible by hiking and is open only during summer months when the surf is low.
Anini Beach Park – One of the safest beaches on the North Shore protected by reef it affords some spectacular snorkeling and safe swimming. It is an excellent spot for wind surfing. It has full facilities and camping is by county permit only.
Anahola Beach Park – Designated as Hawaiian Homelands most beach goers are Hawaiian but visitors are welcome. The best swimming is at the east end of the beach.
Kauai Beaches East Shore (East Side)
Donkey Beach – A ten minute walk off the highway will bring you to this secluded beach where bathing suits are optional, surfing is good and the currents are strong.
Kealia Beach – A popular surf and boogie boarding beach with strong waves and current. Swim only on calm days.
Waipouli Beach – A beautiful beach perfect for jogging or quiet walks. Strong currents make this a dangerous beach for swimming.
L ydgate State Park – A great beach for swimming, picnicking and snorkeling. Lydgate has life guards, two lagoons, full facilities and a grassy picnic area which make this beach great for families with small children or those who want to hang at the beach all day.
Kalapaki Beach – A great beach for swimming or learning how to surf, boogie board, body surf or wind surf due to its partial protection from the open ocean. Kalapaki is also a nice beach for relaxing, sunbathing or simply watching the outrigger canoes and the large cruise ships as they pull in and out of Nawiliwili Harbor.
Kauai Beaches South Shore
Shipwreck Beach (Keoneloa Beach) – Shipwrecks is another great surfing, wind surfing, boogie boarding and body surfing beach. Swim only during calm ocean conditions.
Brennecke Beach- A popular beach for swimmers, beginner boogie boarders and surfers.
Po’ipu Beach Park – The mega beach of the south shore has recently chosen the cleanest beach in America. Po’ipu Beach host’s full facilities and has plenty of sand as well as grassy areas. It has a protective reef making the water here calm and great for swimming, snorkeling and one of the better beaches for small children.
Koloa Landing – This beach is use almost exclusively for scuba diving. See the activities section for more information.
Lawa’i Beach – This is a tiny beach, which is great for snorkeling when the surf is small.
Kauai Beaches West Shore (West Side)
Salt Pond Beach Park – Just as the name says this beach has the only natural salt ponds in Hawaii it is also an excellent beach for small children due to semi protected ocean conditions. This beach park has full facilities.
Pakala – This beach has an incredible surf break referred to as Infinities. The surf break is named so because the rides seem to last forever. This beach is not safe for swimmers and should be used by expert surfers only.
Polihale/Kekaha Beach Park – Poihale is an area of beach that stretches for fifteen miles of uninterrupted sandy beaches. Kekaha Beach Park has an incredibly strong rip current and is not good for swimming unless the ocean is very calm.
Polihale /Polihale State Park – Another beautiful beach with large sand dunes that will test your overall fitness. This beach is the last beach on the west side and marks the beginning of the Na Pali Coast. Polihale has full facilities and camping is by county permit only.
Polihale/Queen’s Pond – The safest beach for swimming at Polihale, except during high surf, due to a semi protective reef.