Idyllic Beaches Line the Northern Coast of Garden Island
Few places on Earth can match the beauty, serenity and amazing beaches of Kauai’s north shore. From Kilauea town to Haena there are spectacular views from mountain waterfalls to aquamarine bays lined with golden sand.
Beginning at Kilauea town you can visit Kauapea Beach as well as Kalihiwai Bay. Often called “Secrets,” Kauapea is an expansive beach more than a mile long with wonderful scenery. Gaze up at the Kilauea Lighthouse, and keep an eye out for the spinner dolphins known to frequent this beach, particularly in the early morning.
Kauapea Beach is not protected from the open ocean and there is no lifeguard so swimming is not recommended, though it is definitely worth a visit for the sheer beauty. The tidal pools on the western end are also fun for exploring. Remember when visiting Kauai beaches and other natural areas it is very important to follow all Kauai Safety Tips.
Kalihiwai Bay and Princeville Resort
The next beach over from Kauapea is Kalihiwai which is a relatively well-protected bay though during times of strong winter surf this is a famed big-wave surfing beach. Kalihiwai Beach is lined with a nice crescent of sand with lava cliffs on both sides of the bay.
During the summer months this can be an idyllic beach for swimming including for small children (depending upon conditions) who will enjoy the placid rivermouth and brackish pools, and kayakers who enjoy paddling in the river and bay. There’s lots of shade here beneath the ironwood trees which makes this beach nice for picnics.
Heading west along the north shore you will soon come to Princeville Resort comprised of residential homes as well as vacation homes, condos and resort hotels. The view from the St. Regis hotel balcony is spectacular, looking out over Hanalei Bay with Makana Mountain (Bali Hai) in the distance. This is a great place to watch the sunset while sipping on a Hawaii-themed beverage.
Hanalei by the Bay
Just down the hill from Princeville is Hanalei town, right on the horseshoe-shaped Hanalei Bay which is fun for a variety of water sports. The crescent-shaped shoreline is a great place for a beachwalk from Hanalei Pier past the beaches called Pavilions, Pine Trees, and at the far end of the bay, Waikoko.
The typically placid Hanalei River meanders through the valley and empties into the ocean at the east side of the bay near Hanalei Pier. If you are looking for the calmest area of Hanalei Bay on any given day (surf is usually biggest in the winter months), then the area near Hanalei Pier is the best choice.
From the rivermouth you can paddle a kayak, stand up paddleboard up Hanalei River or paddle around in the bay. Numerous vendors in Hanalei town offer different options for rentals and guided tours, or contact the Bali Hai Concierge Service.
Lumahai and Haena
Continuing on past Hanalei Bay you enter the valley of Lumahai where you will find one of the north shore’s most expansive beaches. This is not a good swimming beach due to currents and often hazardous waves, though the river that flows along the west side of the beach can provide a fun place to lounge and enjoy the scenery. A walk to the far eastern end of Lumahai leads you to a somewhat separated area of the beach which is so scenic it has been used in Hollywood movie scenes.
Past Lumahai are the beaches of Wainiha and then Haena Bech Park. Just down the beach from the beach park is Makua Beach, often referred to as Tunnels for its many underwater tubes and caverns. This can be one of Kauai’s best snorkeling beaches if the surf is calm as the whole area is somewhat protected by a fringing offshore reef. The scenery here is also remarkable – turquoise waters with a backdrop of verdant, furrowed mountains often laced with waterfalls.
Last but not least is Ke’e Beach at the very end of the road where the scenery and crystal clear water will continue to astound you. This is also where the hiking trail begins to the beach and valley of Hanakapiai, a great day hike, and beyond to Kalalau Valley and the renowned Na Pali Coast.
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