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Kauai Best Beaches

Looking for the Best Beach? Check Out the Top Beaches on Kauai.

Hawaii is home to literally hundreds of beaches - each with its own unique qualities and benefits. While there may be a beach that is rated the best for surfers, that does not mean it will work for sunbathers or swimmers.

Whether you are traveling with the family or you want to enjoy some windsurfing, you will want to find a shore that is relaxing, inviting and safe for everyone. While there are some tucked away beaches, do not go to these little-known waters unless you’re a good swimmer. Because these secluded beaches are unlikely to have any lifeguards or other beach goers - so you will be on your own in the waters.

It is difficult to pick the top beaches because each is unique. But, after a lot of research and comparing the benefits of all of the beaches in Kauai, there are a distinct few that stand out and are widely agreed upon by locals as the best beaches the island has to offer.

Hanalei Bay

This two-mile long bay is shaped like a half moon and features white sand, gorgeous mountains and water that is a beautiful blue. The area itself is more than just pretty to look at - it is a great place to spend the entire day (or week). Hanalei Bay is equally loved by visitors and locals, and there is no other beach on Kauai like it.

This beach is ideal for:

•    Swimming
•    Sailing
•    Beach Walking
•    Surfing
•    Fishing
•    Family Activities
•    Bodyboarding
•    Paddling

What sets it apart is the fact you will find champion surfers from around the world here to practice and catch the waves. If you are here on a great wave day you will see some of the best surfers out there wave riding.

Hanalei Bay can have some very strong currents and the waves break rather harsh on the sandbars. Between September and May you’ll see a lot of winter surf, but these months may still have some calm waves. It is best to consult a lifeguard before swimming if you are there during the winter surf months - and only experienced swimmers should enter deep into the water.

While Hanalei Bay is a great spot, it is not ideal for snorkeling. The areas with sandy bottoms do not have any reef or fish to look at and the end of the bay, while full of reefs is too close to the sandbar for safe snorkeling.

Tunnels Beach
Known to the locals as Makua Beach, this incredible spot was featured on the movie South Pacific. It is the ideal location for snorkelers and it has a little bit of something for everyone. The sand is a tanned white and the water is a turquoise blue that you will not see anywhere else. Its shallow inner reef area is great for novice swimmers and children, because the currents are limited. The outer reefs are great for divers and snorkelers who want to see a little more. The area gets its name because of the caverns and tunnels below.

Tunnels is ideal for:

•    Swimming
•    Shell Collecting
•    Family Activities
•    Snorkeling
•    Paddling
•    Camping
•    Surfing
•    Beach Walking

On a calm day, this spot will be full of local and visiting snorkelers - and it’s considered the best snorkeling spot on Kauai.

The currents can become strong on Tunnels Beach and the waves on the rocks are dangerous. The coral is very sharp, especially in the more advanced areas - so swim with caution. The beach, while accommodating, is not the best place to learn how to surf or body board. The reefs, which provide the area with some of the best waves, can be extreme hazards for even skilled surfers. Therefore, novice surfers should not attempt to surf here.

Po’Ipu Beach Park
This is the south shore’s recreational sport. There is a protected inland area for swimmers and snorkelers and great surf breaks offshore - great for experienced surfers. It is the beach of choice by the Sheraton Kauai Resort.

Po’Ipu is great for:

•    Snorkeling
•    Bodyboarding
•    Family Activities
•    Swimming
•    Paddling
•    Surfing
•    Beach Walking

This beach has received Top 5 awards almost annually - nationwide and globally. On the winter days when north shores of Kauai are too rough for swimmers and surfers, this beach is still calm and inviting - almost like a swimming pool.

The shoreline is protected from the rough surf outside, but there are still dangerous conditions in the water, including the inland swimming area. There are sharp reefs underwater, especially in the surfing zone. The rocks and coral are slippers and strong currents are present at times.

This beach is not ideal if you want a peaceful afternoon, especially in the summer. It is so popular that you’ll have a hard time finding spots on the sand to sit - but the good news is, the beach is full of lifeguards.

Kalapaki Beach
This beach is tucked into a natural harbor, which makes it perfect for swimming and sailing. There are waves for surfers of all levels too - making it the ideal place for the entire family. The sand is met with green grass, allowing for sunbathing, sandcastles and even beach volleyball all in a single spot. You’ll find a lot of restaurants offering beachfront dining here and there are shops and facilities close by.

Kalapaki is great for:

•    Swimming
•    Surfing
•    Paddling
•    Sunbathing
•    Beach Walking
•    Sailing
•    Family Activities

The surf conditions make this place accessible almost year-round. But, there are strong currents as you head to the outer edge of the harbor. The waves breaking on the outlying rocks could be dangerous and after a heavy rain the waters tend to become murky - instead of their crystal blue color.

The area is not ideal for snorkeling, especially because the waters are not as clear as other beaches. The sand bottom areas do not have any reefs; therefore, you won’t find any fish at the bottom either.

It does not matter where you are on Kauai, you will find a beach. But, if you’re looking for the best beaches, these ones should be first on your list. They are great for all ages, have their benefits, and of course, the perfect Hawaiian sand you’ve been looking for.

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