Perfect Kaua‘i days are made of surf, sand, and salty water in your hair. It only takes one visit to one of Poipu’s numerous beaches to turn your entire day around and rejuvenate your spirit. We’ve provided a list of all of Poipu’s beaches to help you decide which slice of paradise you plan to dip your toes in.
Poipu Beach Park
Poipu Beach Park is the one beach where you can literally do it all. Swimming, snorkeling, boogie boarding, surfing, and are accessible from this beach park, named one of the best beaches by numerous travel magazines. A protected “baby” pond on the east end of the park, lifeguard tower and nearby playground makes Poipu Beach a safe place for the keiki (children) to expend their never ending energy. You will feel as though you are in an aquarium and not the actual ocean as the two protected coves with coral reefs and a rainbow of sea life are fantastic snorkeling spots. The expansive park facilities, grassy area and playground are perfect for a beach picnic.
Around the corner from Poipu Beach and less crowded is another small crescent shaped cove that locals refer to as “Waiohai Beach.” This cove is semi-sheltered from the “Waiohai” surf break outside. Easy swimming, snorkeling and surfing are available on the smaller waves that break inside. The small patch of sand fronting the cove is highly coveted beach real estate for setting up chairs and umbrellas. The earlier you get there, the better.
Shipwreck’s Beach (Keoneloa Bay)
Keoneloa Bay, or Shipwreck’s Beach, is a large white sand beach and park with a strong shore break for body surfers. Swimming at this beach should only be done by strong swimmers who are comfortable in the water; the waves are powerful and will easily send you tumbling if you get too close to the shore. It’s best to admire the strength of these waves and the skilled watermen who body board or body surf from afar and save the swimming for other more mellow beaches.
Hidden in a small neighborhood on Lawai Road, Baby Beach is a gem of a beach. Keiki love to splash and play all day in the calm, clear and shallow waters at Baby Beach, while parents can take some time relax since there are no strong currents or rough waves to contend with. The sand bottom is usually no deeper than two feet and there are small sandy tide pools for the extra little ones.
Nearly all of the south shore boating activities take place out of Kukui‘ula Harbor, including canoe paddling, scuba diving tours, and catamaran tours. A small beach fronting the harbor is calm and gentle for swimming, while the large grassy lawn area is perfect for some beach Frisbee and a picnic. Pavilion and bathroom facilities are available for having a small get together.
Discovering Mahaulepu Beach is almost a spiritual experience. The road to get there is an old sugar cane dirt road that extends for several miles, full of potholes and dips. It will leave you questioning of whether going to Mahaulepu is a good idea. Once you arrive, you realize the drive was completely worth it. Surrounded by limestone cliffs, white sand stretches for approximately two miles while waves lap the shore. Monk seals often take refuge in these remote shores for their daily naps, while humpback whales can be seen frolicking only a half mile off shore during whale season. Fishermen and kite surfers often frequent this remote beach.
Prince Kuhio Beach
Easily one of the best spots to snorkel on the south side, Prince Kuhio Beach is a short and narrow beach fronting Lawai Road. The Beach House Restaurant is located next to the beach, serving their fresh Pacific Rim cuisine for lunch and dinner daily. Out in the distance, adventure seeking surfers carve up and down waves at the surf break called “PK’s”, which is located just outside the calm waters. Later in the day, crowds gather on the seawall in front of the restaurant to experience the best Hawaiian sunset views on the south side of Kaua‘i.
Lawai Kai or Allerton’s Beach
A picturesque crescent shaped bay of white sand, lava rock formations, and lush abundance of flora and fauna, Allerton Beach is where royalty and the rich and famous came to play. Queen Emma often frequented Lawai Kai in the 1870’s as her private sanctuary. The land was later purchased by the McBryde Family who planted sugar cane above and leased the valley to Chinese rice and taro farmers. Philanthropist Bob Allerton later purchased the property and transformed the gardens into what is now known as the McBryde Tropical Botanical Gardens.
Allerton’s Beach is completely remote from the rest of the south shore and is only accessible by two ways: 1) kayak or boat or 2) visiting the beach as part of a National Tropical Botanical Gardens guided tour. The third option, which is to trespass on private property, is highly not recommended.
At the eastern end of Poipu Beach is Brennecke’s Beach, a beach for body surfing and boogie boarding. One of the only true shore breaks on the south side of Kaua‘i, there is always a consistent flow of waves. There is not much sand for sunbathing here; however the adjacent beach park has plenty of grass for lounging while you take a break from the waves.
Now that you know where to go and what to do in Poipu, it’s time to get that swimsuit, slather on some sunscreen and hit the beach!
Much of the fun at Kauai’s beaches happens above water. Surfing, swimming, boogie boarding and paddleboarding are some of our favorite ways to spend a perfect Kauai beach day. But putting on a snorkel mask and fins on your feet will give you a perspective of Kauai that is completely different from the above view. Underwater, Kauai’s coral reefs are teeming with sea life; colorful fish in a rainbow of hues and sizes coexisting in their underwater oasis.
Poipu’s warm waters range from 70˚ to 80˚ Fahrenheit year round, meaning every day is the perfect day for snorkeling. Poipu Beach is the only life-guarded beach in Poipu and offers some of the best snorkeling available in its two crescent shaped bays, which are separated by a natural sand tombola, and well populated with an abundance of fish, including the humuhumunukunukuapuaa (the official Hawaiian state fish) silver needle fish, pennant fish, blue parrot fish and more. Poipu Beach was named America’s Best Beach by The Travel Channel and offers park facilities, restrooms, and showers.
Not far from Poipu Beach is Lawai Beach, a small beach with calm waters and excellent snorkeling. Less crowded than the popular Poipu Beach, you will find schools of fish that twist and turn over and around the ocean reefs. Lawai Beach also happens to be one of the best vantage points to take in the evening sunset and has a nice grassy area to set up your beach towel for the show.
Water clarity is best in the mornings, before the crowds arrive to swim and snorkel. Keep your eyes peeled for the occasional moray eel or green sea turtle, which sometimes feed on the seaweed covering the reefs. Also, green sea turtles and the Hawaiian monk seals are protected endangered species. Swimming next to them or touching them could not only be dangerous, but is also illegal and could result in a fine. If you see one of these magnificent creatures while on your adventure, do your best to swim away and keep your distance.
Standing or walking on the reef can harm Kauai’s fragile ecosystem, which is detrimental to the sea life. You could also possibly step on a sea urchin, whose sharp spikes can easily get lodged in your feet for an unpleasant trip to the doctor. Reef shoes called tabbies can help protect you from being poked by sea urchins or cut by coral, but we recommend standing as little as possible and using fins instead to help you stay afloat.
Snorkel Bob’s and Nukumoi Surf Shop can get set up with snorkel masks and fin rentals. Purchasing a small bag of fish food will reap large rewards as fish swarm about you looking for a tasty morsel of food.
Snorkeling in Poipu is an unforgettable experience, one that will stay with you long after you leave Kauai.