Kauai is Hawaii’s ‘Garden Island’, thanks to the tropical rainforest that covers much of the island. And that’s a very accurate description – the island is blanketed in forests, palm trees, and majestic mountains. This makes incredible backdrops for some of the world’s most beautiful beaches. Kauai is world-renowned for its paradisical beaches and with 63 miles of accessible shoreline, visitors can find the perfect beach for them. Whether it’s a pristine resort-style beach or you’re looking for something more wild and rugged, you can find it here. There are so many to choose from on this slice of paradise, so here are seven of the best beaches in Kauai.
Best Beaches in Kauai
1. Ke’e Beach
You might recognise Ke’e Beach’s jaw-dropping landscape from several popular Hollywood movies, including Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End. It’s utterly idyllic and wild – the crescent-shaped beach is backed by majestic mountains carpeted in forest green. And the water is crystal clear, some of the clearest water on the island. It’s also a great spot for snorkelling with its abundance of coral fish. As well as snorkelling equipment, you can also rent kayaks.
2. Tunnels Beach
Tunnels Beach is one of the best places for snorkelling on the island thanks to its enormous coral reef. It’s one of the most popular beaches in Kauai because of its spectacular snorkelling and diving opportunities, but there’s more to Tunnels Beach. The sparkling golden stretch of sand is backed by a tropical backdrop like no other, so perfect it looks like you’ve stepped inside a painting. Even if you’re not a snorkeller, this beach is worth the visit just to lounge around and soak in the natural beauty.
3. Anahola Beach
Anahola Beach is nestled into a beautiful bay, and thanks to its protected reef, is ideal for snorkelling and swimming. The reef lies just off the shore, so you don’t have to go far for some unforgettable snorkelling. And if you’re looking for something off the beaten path that’s popular with locals, this is a great choice. While it’s popular with some tourists, it’s mostly local families and groups of friends that come here. The vibe is laid-back and chilled, you’ll be chatting to the locals in no time. There are even BBQ stations, picnic benches, and restrooms, so you can easily spend all day here. The waters are calm and serene, but there’s a river of the same name that flows into the bay which can create a rip current, so a lifeguard is always on duty.
4. Haena Beach
With turquoise waters and sugary white sand, there’s so much to love about Haena Beach. Backed by the tropical jungle and the magical Mount Makana, you could spend all day enjoying the views, taking pictures, and soaking it all in. It’s also a great place to go shell combing, so the little ones (and the grown-ups!) love searching for beautiful shells here. During the summer, the waters and calm and serene, perfect conditions for snorkelling and spotting colourful fish. In the winter, experienced surfers ride the insanely high waves. You might not be able to get in yourself during the strong currents, but watching the awe-inspiring surfers from the shore might be even better. It has the feel of a wild and natural beach, but there are restrooms and showers, so you can wash the sand off before heading out for a Pina Colada.
5. Anini Beach
Anini Beach has some of the island’s calmest waters, ideal for families to swim carefree. It also boasts a 2-mile-long reef along the shore, so snorkelers love this spot. And more experienced divers can further explore the longest and widest fringing reef in the Hawaiian Islands. As well as snorkelling and diving, visitors love to windsurf and paddleboard. Just be careful not to venture past the reef, as the current gets very strong. In terms of amenities, there are showers, restrooms, picnic tables, a boat ramp, and a nearby campsite.
6. Hanalei Bay Beach
This two-mile stretch of sand is one of the most pristine beaches in Kauai. The bay is shaped like a crescent and backed by mysterious, beautiful mountains. There are spectacular coral reefs on each side of the bay, so snorkelers will love this spot. And surfers of all levels can have a go at shredding the waves. The right side of the bay is best suited to more experienced surfers, while the waves near the pier are ideal for newbies. The beach is so beautiful that just lounging on the sand and occasionally taking a dip is enough, but there’s so much to do for those that get itchy feet. Think bodyboarding, fishing, kayaking, windsurfing, boating, and canoe paddling.
7. Polihale Beach
Polihale Beach is the longest beach in Hawaii, stretching for a whopping 17 miles. However, only 10 of these miles are open to the public, but that’s more than enough room to relax and enjoy the serenity. The currents here are extremely strong and there are no lifeguards on duty, so this isn’t a beach for swimming, but it’s its natural beauty that lands it firmly on this list.
If you’re looking for a remote, wild beach this is it – visitors can only access the beach via a dirt road, so you’ll find it a lot less touristy than others in the area. It’s the perfect spot for a romantic walk along the beach, exploring the wilderness, and gaping at the majestic 100-ft sand dunes. There’s something so transportive about this spot, but if you’re looking for a resort-style beach, this isn’t it. There are no facilities, which is all part of the fun, but be sure to bring everything you need with you.