Kauai Underground Guide

“Our passport to Kauai!”
   — LB, Durango, CO

Papaloa Press
Sample the Kauai Underground Guide
Kauai’s Best Beaches

Hidden Snorkeling Surfing
Eastern Shore
Lydgate Park    
North Shore
Secret Beach        
South Shore
Kipu Kai      
Salt Pond Park        

Beachwalking & Running
Our favorite running beaches, with firm sand and just the right slope, are Hanalei Bay and Kalihiwai on the north shore, Kalapaki on the eastern shore, and Kekaha to the west. For long meandering walks, we like Moloa‘a Bay and Larsen’s Beach on the north, Mahaulepu on the south, and Anahola Beach or Lydgate Park south of the rock pools, along the Wailua Golf Course, on the east — especially beautiful at sunrise or sunset. Remember the sun! Fluids, sunscreen, even a hat are a must!

Family Friendly Beaches
Kids love Kauai! Several beaches on Kauai combine gentle water for small children with rolling waves favored by the older ones. Our favorite family beaches, with something for everyone, are Kalihiwai and Anini Beach on the north shore, and Poipu Beach Park and Salt Pond Beach Park on the south shore.

On the eastern shore, the best family beaches are Kalapaki Beach and Lydgate Park, where you can snorkel safely and see whole families of very tame, colorful fish who live in Lydgate’s unique, man-made ocean pool enclosed with lava rocks. At Lydgate Park you’ll also find the best playground on Kauai — Kamalani Park — 16,000 square feet of funland with mirror mazes, a suspension bridge, lava tubes and circular slide.

With a plastic pail and an inexpensive net ($6 for an 8" net at Long’s), children can have lots of fun trying to catch fish trapped in tidal pools. Net fishing is fun at the rivers behind the beaches at Anahola, Kalihiwai, and Moloa‘a, and at the tidal pools at Salt Pond Beach Park and Poipu Beach Park. Bring home sand, shells and driftwood for great kids’ art projects.

Spectaular Hidden Beaches
On the north shore, Secret Beach has a wild beauty with towering cliffs and a wide expanse of golden sand. In winter, thundering waves can cover this beach almost entirely, but in calm weather during summer months, you can hike down the cliff (about 10 minutes of exertion) and enjoy your private paradise.

Walk for miles along Larsen’s Beach. This deserted beach, which fronts an offshore reef filled with sea life. If you bring reef-walking sneakers to protect your feet, you can walk around in the shallow water and watch colorful fish who don’t seem afraid of people. Or wander along the magnificent , hunt for shells, or simply lose yourself in the spectacle of nature’s beauty. You will probably encounter only another person or two.

On the south shore, wander along Mahaulepu Beach, at the end of a dirt road through cane fields. You can walk a long way along the sand, or climb the rocky bluff for magnificent views of the coastline.

You can’t get to Kipu Kai except by boat, because the road across the mountains is too difficult even for most 4 -wheel drive vehicles. Enjoy spectacular views of the mountains, and calm waters in a protected cove.

Best Snorkeling Beaches
Tunnels beach on the north shore offers protected snorkeling between two reefs. Colorful fish feed on the coral formations, which are like tunnels that are fun to explore. In calm conditions, you can bring the kids and let them play in the shallow water or float on rafts. Great views of the spectacular Na Pali cliffs.

In summer, Ke`e Beach on the north shore has great snorkeling along the reef next to a natural lagoon.

Lydgate Park on the eastern shore has the safest year round snorkeling inside the enormous lava ringed pool which breaks the surf and creates calm swimming. Families of fish feeds along the rocks and seem to enjoy their human companions. Walk for miles along the beach, and you will probably encounter only a fisherman checking his lines.

Poipu Beach has the best snorkeling on the south shore. Near the Beach Park, in front of the Marriott Hotel (once the Waiohai) you’ll find lots of fish along the rocky point. Calm conditions prevail most of the year.

Looking for surf? You’ll find the biggest breakers on the north shore during winter and spring, and on the south and west sides during summer. On the north, it’s Kalihiwai and Hanalei. On the south shore, it’s Shipwreck and, as the sand comes slowly back, Brennecke’s. On the west side, you’ll enjoy Kekaha’s miles of beach, and the hidden spot, Pakala’s or Infinities. Some people enjoy surfing at Major’s Bay on the Pacific Missile Range (stop at the gate and get a day pass). Check the surf report before heading out 245-6001.

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