SUN, SAND & SURF
The beaches of Kauai are among the most beautiful you’ll see anywhere in the world, which is one of the reasons filmmakers have been focusing their lenses on them for so many years. With an estimated 6 million years of geological activity, the oldest of the major Hawaiian Islands has had the most time to create marvelous white-sand beaches on its nearly circular coastline—north, south, east and west. Few beaches in the world can rival the amazing beauty of Kalalau and Polihale, with their spectacular background of the north-facing Na Pali cliffs (Na Pali is Hawaiian for “the cliffs”). On the south side of the island, Poipu Beach is consistently ranked in national and international Top Ten Beaches lists. It’s ideal for families, offering safe, shallow lagoons for the young ones, as well as nearby bodysurfing and surfing for the adventurous. Another favorite is Hanalei Bay, which has starred in numerous Hollywood productions, favored for its wonderful bay, surfing waves and mountainous backdrop. Beachwise, Kauai has it all: bodysurfing beaches, surfing beaches, snorkeling, scuba and sunbathing.
BEST BEACHES FOR SURFING
Kealia Beach is a half-mile stretch of golden beach hugging the curve of Highway 56. The beach has a long sandbar bottom, which provides a nice surf break. Newcomers should swim near the beach’s north end, where a breakwater creates a protected area. Lifeguards are on duty.
Longhouse Beach is great for surfing and bodyboarding for intermediate to expert surfers. Named by residents for the Tahitian longhouse restaurant originally on the site, the sandy beach is adjacent to the Beach House Restaurant, whose lawn and seawall are favorite gathering spots for wiped-out surfers and spectators. Longhouse is also called PKs, for nearby Prince Kuhio Beach, which provides parking, showers and restrooms.
Hanalei Bay, one of the most beautiful spots on the planet, has been featured in dozens of Hollywood films. It is supposedly where Jason Segel learns to surf in the popular film Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Much of the bay is safe for swimming near the shore, while the surf breaks farther out in the bay. Board rentals are available on the main strip of Hanalei Town.
Kalapaki Beach has been one of Kauai’s favorite surfing beaches for years, because it accommodates novices on the inside break, as well as more experienced surfers who can pick off the larger waves farther out in the bay. It is also a favorite spot to play beach volleyball and a good spot for nonsurfers to safely watch the sport. The shoreline area offers calm waters for youngsters. Kalapaki is home to Marriott’s Kauai Beach Club.
Shipwreck Beach (Keoneloa) Named for an old, wooden shipwreck long since gone, Shipwreck Beach is a lovely stretch of golden sand, home to several resort hotels. The treacherous shorebreak here is popular with skilled surfers, young boogieboarders and contortionist bodysurfers. The nearby Makawehi Point is a popular fishing spot and hiking area. The point is also a popular cliff-jumping spot, certainly not recommended for the average beachgoer. Strong currents and high surf make swimming dangerous for anyone who is not an expert.
Brennecke’s is one of the top bodysurfing and bodyboarding beaches on Kauai, and it prohibits surfboards. Waves break throughout the year, though the best surf arrives in the summer months. The beach is generally safe, but caution is advised during occasional high surf. Younger swimmers have more fun in an adjacent cove, and just beyond is a bay for decent snorkeling.
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