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North Shore Beaches

Kauai is an island, approximately 30 miles across, with no private beaches. If you can get to it, you can play on it. But, not all beaches or waters are safe to swim. There can be currents, rip tides and crashing surf which may make it unsafe. The best rule is to observe the water and, if in doubt, don’t enter.

The safest coastal areas for swimming and snorkeling can be found in areas which have a protective reef. The Ultimate Kauai Guidebook (which can be found in our condo), lists and discusses many of Kauai’s beaches, including how to find them.

Below, is a brief summary of some of our favorite beaches on the northshore, near our Princeville resort condominium. Each beach offers its own attraction. Some are easy to get to, some are great for keikes (young children), some offer superior snorkeling, some are drop dead gorgeous/picturesque, some are secluded or virtually so, some are good for swimming and so forth. We typically visit two different beaches a day and we pick the beaches based upon our energy level and activity we want to enjoy.


Hanalei Bay was selected as the Best Beach in America for 2009. Hanalei Bay has awesome views, in all directions and offers a great experience for all ages. One of the most peaceful, awe inspiring locations on the face of the Earth.

This #1 Beach in America, is quite large and actually offers a variety of beaches and views. We particularly like the area near the Hanalei pier. In the late afternoon, it offers incredible sunset views over Bali Hai. There can be waves that are good for body surfing and boogie boarding. Out beyond the reef you will see surfers. This is the beach and pier used as the back drop for the movie musical “South Pacific”. This is where Bloody Mary burst on to the scene and the Navy nurses ran on the beach.

Hanalei Pavilion Beach Park, which is about in the middle of Hanalei Bay, offers a life guarded area and rest rooms. And often offers waters calm enough to “swim laps”.

You haven’t seen Kauai, if you haven’t visited Hanalei and Hanalei Bay.


Anini is one of the easiest beaches to walk on to and is typically so well protected, by the reef, and is shallow, which makes it an ideal beach for keikes. Snorkeling has improved over the years. You may also see wind surfers.


Hideaway requires some effort to negotiate the stairs and path, but it is within a mile of our condo and offers a beautiful beach upon which to lie and contemplate the world. The snorkeling can be good and occasionally, a group of kayakers will pull up on the beach for a rest.


The St. Regis Hotel sits on the eastern edge of Hanalei Bay. We like this beach for multiple reasons. The views are magnificent. The water is typically calm and relatively shallow. Snorkeling is good as is beachcombing. You can walk up to The Beach Restaurant & Bar, next to the Hotel’s swimming pool, for a flavorful lunch, while enjoying the ambiance of this five star hotel.

Hanalei Pavilion Beach Park, which is about in the middle of Hanalei Bay, offers a lifeguarded area and rest rooms. And, at times offers, waters calm enough to “swim laps”.


Tunnels is excellent for snorkeling and laying on the beach and soaking in the awsome views. Finding it can be a chore, so be sure to have your Guidebook.


This beach is where the main road ends going west and the magnificent Na Pali coast begins. This beach has excellent snorkeling, views and beachcombing. It is also near the head trail of the Na Pali coast hike, which we strongly recommend and which is discussed in the “Activities” section. Don’t miss this beach.


If you are old enough to remember Mitzi Gaynor singing “I’m going to wash that man right out of my hair”, in the musical South Pacific, then this is a must see beach. This is a beautiful beach, BUT DON’T SWIM HERE. The waters are treacherous most of the time.

Below is a group of beaches which we do not often frequent but which are in the area and may be of interest.


This small beach is about 1/4 mile from our property. It is difficult to find, without your Guidebook and it does require a bit of a walk to get to it. But, once you are there, you may be all by your self.


The Guidebook and a significant walk is required to visit this beach. It offers a very long sandy beach, which is great for walking, with a great view of the Kilauea lighthouse, at the eastern end of the beach. The waters can be rough and not safe for swimming. Nude bathing is illegal, but you may run into law breakers on this, as it turns out, “clothing optional” beach.


This beach can be found after walking two (2) miles, on the Kalalau Trail, along the Na Pali coast, from Kee Beach (see “Activities). It is a cool and welcomed respite from your hike. If you follow the river, up the canyon, for another two (2) miles, you will find the Hanakapi’ai falls. This is a strenous hike, but, if you are up to it, you will find it rewarding. You can swim in the pool, at the base of the falls, but be careful, because rocks and branches will be washed over the falls. If you take this hike, prepare for it with the proper clothing, water/food, camera (in a plastic bag), and time to make and enjoy the sights.

The Kalalau Trail was highlighted in the movie “A Perfect Getaway”, but this 2 mile stretch of the 11 mile hike, does not require a permit, nor is it as challenging as depicted in the film.