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Best Beaches in Kauai for Swimming
So you’re here because you’re looking for the best beaches in Kauai for swimming. Maui gets all the credit for fabulous beaches, but there are many great swimmable beaches on Kauai too!
Some of these beaches have calm waters, and others have great waves. There’s an excellent swimmable beach in Kauai for everyone. Just make sure to check the conditions before getting in the water. Some of the beaches in Kauai, particularly on the North Shore, can be rough in the winter.
Today we will talk about the 16 best beaches in Kauai for swimming, plus 3 beaches that you might want to avoid. First, let’s talk about how you’ll get to all of these Kauai beaches.
Check out the 30 best beaches in Hawaii for more of the best beaches all over Hawaii.
DO I NEED A RENTAL CAR IN KAUAI?
Renting a car is an absolute must in Kauai. It would be a shame to waste your time on the beautiful garden island in a resort (even though the resorts in Kauai are beautiful too.) Plus, the best beaches in Kauai for swimming are spread all over the island!
I recommend Discount Hawaii Car Rental. You’ll find the best deals and don’t have to pay for your rental until arrival. By the way, I recommend a Jeep; it is a lot more fun! That said, a compact car will be sufficient if you have a tight budget.
You can read more about why you need a rental car in Hawaii.
Best Beaches in Kauai for Swimming
Here are the best beaches in Kauai for swimming. Although there are many swimmable beaches in Kauai, you’ll always want to check conditions and heed warning signs as these beaches are not always safe for swimming.
I once did a helicopter tour in Kauai and flew over 30+ foot waves on the North Shore! You might have figured this out, but no one was swimming (or surfing or boating) on the Kauai beaches that day!
Black Pot Beach
Black Pot Beach is one of the beaches located around Hanalei Bay, just a short walk from Hanalei Bay Resort. The Waipa River and the Hanalei River surround this bay. That leads to some unique landscapes.
This Hanalei Bay Beach is considered the best spot for swimming on the island. Many of the locals head to this sandy beach on the weekends.
At the end of the day, I recommend heading out on the pier of this Hanalei beach to watch the sunset.
Ke’e Beach can be found on the north shore of Kauai. Great swimming can be found at this beach during the calm summer months. This makes it an ideal place for swimming.
Some of the best snorkeling can be done at this beach. There are plenty of tropical fish and green sea turtles to see.
This beach is right at the start of the Kalalau Trail, but keep in mind you are not allowed on the trail without a permit.
One of the best north shore beaches is Anini Beach. This is one of the most protected of all Kauai beaches. You will find the longest coral reef in Hawaii off the shore of this sandy beach.
Small children will love the calm water, and the gentle waves are perfect for swimming.
This is one of the beaches in Kauai that offers watersports. However, Anini Beach is primarily known for its beginner windsurfing lessons.
One of the best beaches in Kauai for swimming is Anahola Beach. Shallow pockets of sand at the bottom make it the perfect place to swim. Add in the coral reef that protects you from the strong currents, and you will quickly see why this beach is always crowded.
This is one of the most popular beaches for tourists who want to swim in Kauai.
Salt Pond Beach
Salt Pond Beach can be found within Salt Pond Beach Park. This Kauai beach is located near Hanapepe. Two rocky promontories protect the water. However, the water can get rough if the surfing conditions are right.
Mahaulepu Beach can be found on Kauai’s south shore. This beach is divided into three separate beaches. Those beaches include Haula Beach, Gillin’s Beach, and Kawailoa Bay Beach.
The parking area at Kalihiwai Beach is quite large. This makes it an ideal spot for those who don’t want to circle for parking at the other best beaches in Kauai for swimming.
The water at this beach is calm during the summer. However, the winter months bring strong waves that are perfect for surfing. Therefore, swimming at Kalihiwai Beach during the winter is not recommended.
Poipu Beach Park
Poipu Beach can be found on the south shore of Kauai. The cove, as well as the reef, create calm water that is perfect for swimming.
This is actually a beach that has two beaches in one. This is due to the crescent-shaped bay where the beach is located.
Families are encouraged to take a short walk to the small island formed at Nukumoi Point.
There are plenty of picnic tables at this beach on Kauai. You will be able to find a little shade under the palm trees. The kids will love the playground too!
When you visit Poipu Beach, keep an eye out for the Hawaiian monk seals. They love to hang out on the golden sand there.
This beach can be found outside one of the resorts on Kauai. Thankfully, all the beaches in Kauai are considered public. Therefore, you don’t need to stay at the resort to visit this beach.
One of the best luaus in Kauai, Auli’i Lu’au, can be found at this beach.
The break wall in Nawiliwili Bay ensures the water stays calm at Kalapaki Beach. While swimming is fantastic here, you can also learn how to surf, stand-up paddleboard, and bodyboard during your visit.
The cruise ships dock nearby, so understand this beach may get crowded.
You don’t need to pack much when you go to this beach. There are quite a few food trucks, stores, and restaurants nearby.
Haena Beach Park
Ha’ena Beach is not part of the state park, so you do not need a reservation to visit. You will find this beach off the Kuhio Highway.
You should always check the current conditions before visiting Ha’ena Beach. The currents can get strong here, and swimming is not advised when that happens.
You can always walk under the cliffs if you still want to visit with the strong currents.
Lydgate Beach Park
The water off of the shoreline is not where you want to swim at Lydgate Beach Park. Instead, you want to venture over to the two tide pools inside the park.
These tidal pools are located at the northern end of the park. The shallow water is an excellent place to swim with the large schools of fish.
The playground, across from the parking lot, is a perfect place for young children to run off more energy.
Baby Beach is an excellent spot for small children. This is one of the best swimming beaches on Kauai for everyone. You can all swim without getting knocked over by the waves.
You may want to stay all day and watch the sunset. Although, that may not work since there are no facilities at this popular destination.
Makua Beach is a fantastic beach, more commonly known as Tunnels Beach. You will find this beach on Kauai’s north shore. It’s one of my personal favorites!
The currents are stronger at this beach in Kauai. However, when you are out in the water, you will find yourself looking at massive sea cliffs and palm trees.
If you get bored swimming in crystal clear water, you can always do a little snorkeling.
Rock Quarry Beach
Rock Quarry Beach is a secluded beach on Kauai. It is best to visit this beach during summer when the water is calm.
Shipwreck Beach is considered America’s best beach or at least one of the best beaches in the Hawaiian Islands. This is one of the best places for swimming, kayaking, and boogie boarding. There is also a 40-foot cliff your family can jump off.
The water at this beach can be rough. Watch for the red flags, and do not enter if they are up. Also, there are no lifeguards on duty here.
Getting to this Kauai beach is simple. You only need to drive down Poipu Road and turn to Ainakoa Street. This beach is at the end of the road.
Beaches to Avoid When Swimming in Kauai
These beaches are great, but you probably want to avoid swimming.
This is a long beach in Kauai. In fact, this is the longest stretch of beach in the entire state. This is a very popular spot for locals. However, I don’t recommend swimming at this beach. The currents are strong, and there are no lifeguards.
It’s still worth visiting if you don’t mind the rough drive-in! You can easily walk along the miles of white sand and look for seashells at this beach. This is also a fantastic location for watching the sunset.
Kekaha Beach is another one of Kauai’s beaches that is a great beach but not the best for swimming. The strong winds, as well as river runoff, create murky brown water.
There are picnic areas at this beach. This is a great spot to bring a picnic lunch while watching the surfers out in the water.
A secret beach in Kauai is Kauapea Beach. You will discover this beach on the north shore – if you can find it. This beach is off a dirt road.
This is one of the best places for surfing and bodysurfing. However, it is another one of the beaches that isn’t good for swimming in Kauai.
The best beaches in Kauai for swimming
These are the best beaches in Kauai for swimming. In addition, I added beaches to avoid swimming in during your Kauai vacation as well. This will ensure you do not consider swimming in an area where it isn’t safe.
Again, makes sure to follow any signs or lifeguard instructions. Kauai is beautiful, but it is not Disneyland. Conditions can change at any time. You should always be careful when dealing with the ocean. I know I’ve stressed this a lot, but many visitors lose their lives due to not paying attention, so it’s very serious.
Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, I hope you enjoy your Kauai vacation! Are you still trying to decide if Kauai is right for you? Make sure to check out Maui vs. Kauai, and what is the best island to visit in Hawaii?
Did your favorite swimmable beach in Kauai make the list? If not, make sure to share it in the comments below!
More Kauai vacation ideas
For more Kauai travel tips, check out some of my most popular blog posts:
- The best waterfalls in Kauai
- The 8 best golf courses in Kauai
- The 10 best beaches in Kauai
- 20 Best Places to Eat in Kapaa Kauai
- 10 best adventure activities on Kauai
- The best things to do in Hanalei
- 7-day Kauai Itinerary
- The best restaurants in Kauai
- 25 things to do on Kauai
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