Best Beach in Kauai - 5 to Add to Your Bucket List

November 1, 2022

These five Kauai North Shore beaches are totally bucket-list worthy and should be on your Hawaii hit list.

Famous for sparkling white sand beaches, Kauai offers an unrivaled setting for prime beach days. Surround yourself with a swirl of sea cliffs and palm trees in this tropical dreamland. We’ve scouted out the Kauai best beaches so you can focus less on planning and more on packing that suitcase!

Picture this. You spread out a beach towel and slather on some coconut-scented sunblock to protect yourself from the blaring sun on one of the North Shore beaches Kauai. The Hawaiian sun rays warm your skin to perfection. You’ll be heading back to your hotel or resort with a subtle sun-kissed glow! Hear the crash of the waves on the shore. Feel the smooth water as you glide into the water to take a dip.

Connect with natural paradise on a variety of the best beaches in North Shore Kaui! Keep reading for inside information on Kauai best beaches.

Hanalei Beach

With its crescent moon-shaped bay, Hanalei Beach is the perfect sandy beach to lounge around on. Towering sea cliffs and golden sand create a tantalizing paradise. This beach makes it to the top of the list of North Shore Kauai beaches!

Photo Alert: This picturesque beach captures the spirit of Hawaii. Be sure to take a few minutes and snap away! These are the photos you’ll be showing off to everyone back home.

Hanalei Bay stretches two miles from point to point and indents the coast a full mile inland. The spacious area is an idyllic place to build sandcastles, have a picnic, or get some sun.

The real fun, however, begins when you dive in. Hanalei Beach’s waters are ideal for swimming, boogie boarding, paddle boarding, and kayaking. But the star of the show? Snorkeling. Coral reefs offer pops of vibrant color and interesting texture on both sides of the two points of Hanalei Beach, making it one of the best beaches on Kauai North Shore.

Additionally, a nearby sunken ship adds mystery and intrigue to underwater exploration! If you’re just looking to chill out and take a swim, the word on the street is that Black Pot near the pier is a favorite for visitors and locals alike.

Pro Tip: Plan your trip for summer or fall if you plan on swimming and snorkeling at the most beautiful beaches Kauai! The waters can get dangerous for swimmers in the winter months.

There are parking options aplenty for Hanalei Beach:

  • Right after Nualolo Road, parking is available on the left side of Highway 56.
  • Parking is also available near the pier on the right side of Highway 56.
  • Finally, you can park at Black Pot Beach Park. This area also has public restrooms and outdoor showers.

Aerial drone shot of Hanalei bay and beach on the north shore of Kauai in HawaiiKee Beach

Another beach protected by a reef is Kee Beach (pronounced Kay-ay). Stay inside the reef, and you’re in for safe, worry-free swimming. Grab a snorkel mask and keep your eyes peeled for flashes of vibrantly colored tropical fish and sea turtles! The best North Shore beaches, Kauai, feature lively wildlife.

During the summer months, the water is especially calm and clear. Skip the swimming pool and take a dip here! There is even a lifeguard on duty at this beach. Moreover, be extra alert if you are swimming during the winter months. Sometimes, the surf spreads into the normally safe reef area, creating potentially dangerous conditions. Large waves can get tumultuous.

The tide pools here are great places for the kiddos to explore. Encounter a variety of wildlife and plant life to learn more about the world sans textbook!

Pro Tip: Parking at Kee Beach is limited, so be sure to arrive early to snag your spot! We suggest scouting out a spot in the dirt parking lot. You’ll find this lot around a quarter mile from the end of the road.

Once you tire of the beach, take a quick walk to the Kalalau trailhead and set off for adventure! This 11-mile trail runs along the Na Pali coast and offers pristine Hawaiian views. We suggest getting on the trail before sunset! There’s no better place to watch the sky light up in every shade of pink, purple, and orange. Stay on the lookout for dolphins and whales basking in the fading light!

Pro Tip: Kee Beach is one of the best beaches Kauai North Shore to enjoy a meal! Picnic tables are conveniently located at Kee Beach. Pack a picnic lunch and chow down once the midday cravings hit!

aerial view over trees looking at the ocean and Ke'e Beach in Kauai, Hawaii, USATunnels Beach

Tunnels Beach gets its name from underwater caverns formed by lava tubes beneath the surface of its waters. This intriguing landscape underneath the waves makes it a prime location for snorkeling and scuba diving! Undoubtedly, this is one of the best North Shore Kauai beaches.

Keep in mind that this beach is too dangerous for swimming or surfing during the winter. Powerful waves take over during these months. So, stick to the summer if you hope to get in the water at Tunnels Beach!

Photo Alert: If you opt to go snorkeling or scuba diving, buy a cheap disposable underwater camera and get snapping! Candid photos like these have their own charm that professional photos can’t replicate.

For those who prefer to stay above the water, Tunnels Beach is also a fan-favorite spot for surfing, windsurfing, and kite surfing. There are two breaks that put this beach on the list of best Kauai North Shore beaches for surfers. Get ready to hang ten!

Finally, for those who like to stay away from the water altogether, there’s plenty of room along the sandy shore. Lush jungle-like greenery creates a captivating backdrop. Kick back and relax in paradise!

We suggest parking at Haena State Park to access this beach. Remember that you will need to reserve parking online before you go. This popular spot tends to fill up fast!

ground view of sandy beach and ocean waves with trees in background at Tunnels Beach in Kauai, Hawaii, USA

photo credit: William Silveira via Facebook

Hideaways Beach

Hideaways Beach, also known as Kenomene Beach, is a hidden gem of Kauai. This secluded spot offers a taste of true paradise. Getting there is no small feat, but this rare beach is worth the journey! Of course, you’ll have to bring your inner explorer out. We suggest making this one a full-day trip to make the most of it!

There are three different ways to access Hideaways Beach:

  • First, find a small parking lot next to the Princeville St. Regis Hotel. One side of the lot is closest to the ocean. On this side, you’ll see the beginning of a set of stairs. The stairs are a treacherous 15-minute hike, but will eventually get you to the beach!
  • An easier (and safer!) way to access this beach is by kayak. Take a guided tour, or navigate the waves yourself! Set off from the Hanalei Bay, then head east. Look for a rock outcropping and set of stairs.
  • You can also swim or climb to get there! Visit Pali Ke Kua Beach, then find the large rock outcropping. On the other side of the rock outcropping is Hideaways Beach! Either climb over it or swim around it to access the exclusive beach. If you opt to swim, be sure to avoid touching the coral reef!

Once you make the journey, you’re in for a treat! Spend the day snorkeling, swimming, or lazing on the shore. This beach is arguably the best beach North Shore Kauai.

Pro Tip: This beach is recommended for those who are more athletic and physically fit due to the challenging beach access point. Because it can be strenuous to get to, it may not be one of the best beaches North Shore Kauai for those who have difficulty climbing or hiking. Work with your limits to avoid getting hurt.

ground view of sandy beach and ocean view at Hideaway Beach in Kauai, Hawaii, USAAnini Beach

If you’re hoping to dive into the deep blue sea, Anini Beach is an excellent spot for safe swimming. The water here is a rich blue, highlighted by the surrounding emerald foliage. Kick back on the sand as your worries wash away beneath a spacious blue sky!

Approximately 2.5 miles of shoreline means you’ll have plenty of room to sunbathe at one of the best beaches North Kauai! Here, you’ll have a better chance of getting away from the crowds compared to some of the other more packed beaches. Privacy is just what you’ll need to get lost in a riveting beach read or take a long afternoon nap!

Just beyond the shore, a wide fringing reef means the waters here are typically calm -- even in the winter. In addition, the reef creates a barrier to protect swimmers from crashing waves! This also makes it a decent spot for snorkeling, although it’s not usually considered an ideal snorkeling spot simply due to large amounts of ocean debris.

Another draw of Anini Beach is camping! With a permit, you can pitch a tent to turn your beach day into an all-nighter. Then, drift to sleep beneath a speckled sky. Balmy air and waves that reflect the night sky mean unparalleled camping conditions -- if you can handle the heat!

Pro Tip: Bringing your dog along? Furry friends are allowed! Anini Beach is among the dog-friendly beaches on North Shore Kauai.

View of wave crashing onto sandy beach in Anini Beach in Kauai, Hawaii, USA

photo credit: Hale Laniakea via Facebook

Beyond the Beach

While beach days are certainly relaxing and Kauai beaches North Shore are stunning, day after day spent on the beach can get a little too relaxing. Once you’ve swam and sunbathed to your heart’s content, you’ll probably be itching to get active!

Luckily, there is plenty more to do on Kauai. For example, take a snorkel, scuba, or kayak tour led by an experienced guide who knows all the secrets. Or, take to the sky on a helicopter tour!

Here are a few of our top Kauai activity picks:

a semi front view of a sailing white yacht where tourist are enjoying the view of Kauai sea

photo credit: Kauai Sea Tours via Facebook

Which of These Kauai Best Beaches is Calling Your Name?

Pack your beach bag and hit the sand at a North Shore beach Kauai! Don’t forget to include a beach towel, a good read, sunblock, plenty of H2O, and some fresh pineapple for snacking.

Pro Tip: These are only a few of the Kauai North Shore beaches! Other options worth noting are Kalapaki Beach and Poipu Beach.

Once you’ve had your fill of sun and sand, return to a crisp, cool bed made just for you at one of Kauai’s best hotels or resorts. Additionally, book several Kauai activities to make vacation memories that will last a lifetime!

Which is Your Favorite Kauai North Shore Beach? 

Share with us in the comments below!

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Written By Michaela

Michaela is a journalist who views every story she writes as an adventure, leading her to explore new places and meet new people. She is based in the Midwest ...

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