tunnels-haena

Top 10 Kauai Beaches (With Map) | Makana’s Local Guide

In Eastside Places, North Shore Places, Places, South Shore Places, West Kauai Places by Makana Charters

If you are vacationing in Kauai you might want to know where the top 10 Kauai beaches are.

Chances that you are going to be spending a lot of time at the beach.  We have the perfect mix of tucked-away coves and wide-open stretches of expansive beauty.  Each beach has its’ own unique character and charm, meaning that somewhere out there is the ideal beach for you.

The following is a brief list of the top kauai best beaches from a local’s opinion.  We know the island inside and out, and want our guests to have the best experience possible.  To us, that means sharing in some of the beauty and magic of Kauai  beaches.  We aren’t too worried, there is plenty of room for everyone!  Please be very careful and do take extreme precautions before entering the waters.  Kauai Beaches has very strong currents, waves and rip tides.  Check the Weather and Ocean Condition   Also, check to see if any lifeguards are on duty.

tunnels haena

tunnels-haena

North Shore:

  • Tunnels – Haena State Park sits at the far western end of the North Shore.  The main beach here is tunnels, a small bay with shallow water that is perfect for snorkeling in the summer months, and a prime spot for surfers to test their might in the winter.  Although this beach can get crowded, there is a reason – the bright blue water looks stunning when contrasted to the bright white sand.
  • Hanelei- Ke’e beach A visit to Kauai is not complete without some time spent walking along the beach at Hanalei.  This bay wraps around over 2 miles, offering stunning views of the ocean in one direction, and the majestic, lush inland valleys the other way.
  • Anini – The giant sheltered lagoon is the highlight here.  No matter the time of year or weather conditions, an offshore reef protects the waters close to shore, allowing this beach to have consistently safe swimming conditions.
 Anahola Beach and Sleeping Giant Mountain

Anahola Beach and Sleeping Giant Mountain

East Side:

  • Anahola – This beach large in size but small in reputation, which is why it’s a local’s favorite.  There are waves here year round for all abilities.  The bay winds around as far as the eye can see, with sweeping views of the nearby highlands and an impressive coastline.
  • Kealia – This beach can have a very aggressive current, so please check with lifeguards before going out.  But the beautiful sandy shoreline is a great spot to soak up some sun and meet some locals – you’ll always find a few friendly faces down in the pavillions, especially after work.

South Shore:

  • Maha’ulepu Beach – Maha’ulepu is at the end of a very bumpy dirt road, which means that many people avoid going there.  Their loss is your gain, as the coastline heads for miles in either direction, finishing at the western end by large cliffs that jut out into the ocean.  An offshore reef blocks any large waves from coming to the beach, making Maha’ulepu a great swimming location.
  • Shipwreck Beach – Shipwreck’s is a great locals’ gathering place, and you will often find a portable BBQ or two set up on the park’s picnic tables.  Crowds of sunbathers gather on the sandy shore to relax and watch the show from the surfers on one of South Kauai’s best waves.
Sunset at Waimea Pier

Sunset at Waimea Pier

West Side:

  • Pakala – This point is a favorite for surfers, but the beach is also a great place to spend an afternoon, even if you don’t surf.  The coastline looks southwest, which makes for some great sunsets.  No matter what time of day, though, you will enjoy the relaxing atmosphere of the beach and surroundings.
  • Waimea Bay –  Entering through Russian Fort-  Waimea Bay is probably the most unique beach in Kauai due to the color of the sand.  The sediment from Waimea Canyon is carried out from the river, and spits out into the bay.  As a result the sand is very dark, and in the right light looks black.  There is also a pier that you can fish from, or just eat the fresh catch from the store for supper, watching the sunset.
  • Polihale – This is where we enjoy the most!  This is a must see and the most unique Kauai Beaches has to offer.  Polihale lies at the end of the road on the west side, long past the US Naval base and and half an hour from the services and amenities of Waimea. You’ll see a sign (Polihale) taking a left following a dirt road for a few miles.  This beach stretches over 2 miles, connecting with barking sands for 15 more miles in one direction, and one end abruptly halted by the massive cliffs of the Na Pali Coast.  This beach is a popular weekend destination for locals, especially those with 4×4 trucks who enjoy driving straight on the beach.


View The 10 Best Beaches on Kauai in a larger map

If you’re on a family vacation, check out our list of the Top 5 Family Friendly Beaches on Kauai.
Or, if you’re on a romantic getaway, check out our list of the Best Beaches to Watch a Sunset in Kauai