Best beaches on Kauai’s North Shore:
- Anahola Beach
- Haena Beach
- Hanalei Bay
- Kee Beach
- Lumahai Beach
- Makua(aka tunnels)
Kauai is the oldest of the eight main Hawaiian Islands, and is home to the most beautiful beaches in the world. With so many beaches to choose from, one could spend an entire vacation hitting multiple beaches a day and still not see them all. Nearly half of our island’s coastline is covered by sand (that’s more than 55 miles of sand and beach!!). Each stretch has different sand texture, color, and size giving our beaches the most diverse classifications as well!
In general, the waters around Kauai are extremely dangerous. Everyday, every hour, beach conditions vary. Beaches change shape daily due to fluctuating ocean conditions. Some beaches will be massive during some portions of the year and be completely absent in others. We can’t stress enough the importance of our county lifeguards. They are paid nowhere near their worth, and only a handful of lifeguard stands exist on the island (Kee, Haena, Hanalei, Kealia, Lydgate, Anahola, Saltpond, Kekaha). Lifeguards on Kauai are the real deal. To be a lifeguard in Hawaii you have to be an incredible lifelong swimmer and waterman/woman. Ask and listen for their advice. The best lifeguards, through advice, prevent people from dangerous situations before there is a need for rescue. The majority of Kauai’s beaches are in remote locations, far from help. The county has held some of the highest drowning rates in the United States and unfortunately, over 60% of annual drownings are travelers and tourists on the island. After a long, cold winter in the northern states, 78 degree water may sound inviting. However, a rip current, sizeable surf, and open ocean conditions will challenge even strong swimmers. Every local resident who swims Kauai waters has had a near drowning experience. The skills needed to manage these waters are acquired over the years, through experience and education. We don’t mean to be a buzz-kill, but this is one piece of advice that is not widely given to travelers on Kauai.
The best way to be safe in the ocean is to check daily conditions, take advice from lifeguards, and always observe the water for at least ten minutes before entering. If you don’t know what to look for, then perhaps an enclosed reef or rock area such as Lydgate, Kee, or Poipu Beach is the best place to start. It is impossible for us to recommend a safe place to swim on a given day. Conditions change rapidly and every beach on the island can be dangerous, depending on daily water conditions. The island is small, but the conditions can change dramatically from one beach to the next (making Kauai ideal for advanced surfers).
The winter months carry the predominant and largest swells (waves) from the northwest direction, making the North facing shores unpredictable and relatively dangerous. Typically in winter, the more favorable, safer swimming areas can be found on the south shore. In the summer months the predominant swell direction comes from the southwest. This allows for safer swimming conditions on the north shore. Throughout the year Kauai’s prevailing trade winds come from the east/ northeast, which can create dangerous conditions on the entire island. It’s best to take notice and precaution no matter which beach you land on.
When setting up on a beach for the day, make sure you give yourself a solid buffer from the shoreline. If rocks are wet, waves will crash there again… soon. Random or “rouge” waves have been known to crash well beyond the upper tidal area, especially when large swells are present. We can tell you how many beach parties quickly become yard sales when a rogue wave surprises unsuspecting sunglass loungers. With all that being said, try to find another island on the planet that offers the beach quality and quantity of Kauai. After traveling the world by sailboat, our team has not yet.