Consistently rated among the world's best tropical islands by travel magazines, the island of Kauai is blessed with some of the most beautiful beaches in the Pacific. From long stretches of golden sand to tiny coves surrounded by jungle to postcard perfect beaches drenched in sunshine, Kauai boasts more sandy beaches than any other Hawaiian island.
After months of painstaking research, this beach-bum has narrowed Kauai's beaches down to the five most beautiful. But don't take my word for it - plan a Kauai vacation and get out of your hotel room or vacation rental to find out for yourself. And before heading out into the water, check out the Kauai surf report for current ocean conditions.
- Kauapea (Secret) Beach: Ask where Kauapea Beach is and you'll probably receive a blank stare. Locals call this "Secret Beach". And while the secret is out, the beach itself is long enough that you'll never feel crowded. Hike down a muddy jungle track on Kauai's north shore and you'll learn how Gilligan must have felt. Bikinis required by law, optional in practice.
- Kealia Beach: A broad sweeping beach popular with local surfers, east-facing Kealia can be as treacherous as it is beautiful. Not a beach for swimming, Kealia is the site of frequent bon fires, picnics, romantic barefoot walks and wave watching. Long board riders, lovers and dogs with Frisbees welcome!
- Mahaulepu Beach: Hike the dramatic coastline of limestone cliffs east of the Grand Hyatt and you'll come to Mahaulepu Beach. Depending on the season and sea conditions, this is the place for kite surfing, fishing, sunbathing or frolicking in the waves. Many on Kauai are actively fighting to keep Mahaulepu undeveloped, and with good reason. Golden sand dunes, blue seas and soaring green mountains make this beach one of Kauai's most beautiful.
- Poipu Beach: Easily accessible from hotels and vacation rentals, the eternal sunshine, swaying palm trees and aquamarine waters make Poipu one of the most popular beach resorts areas in Hawaii. Poipu actually refers to a five mile stretch of more than a dozen sandy beaches and surf points. When people talk about "Poipu Beach", they are usually referring to Poipu Beach Park and Brenneke's Beach. Poipu is the quintessential Hawaiian beach, perfect for families with small children, teens, couples, surfers, whale watchers, snorkelers and sun-worshipers.
- Kekaha/Polihale Beach: Starting at Kauai's most westerly town, Kekaha Beach is a seemingly endless expanse of sand that runs 17 miles west to magical Polihale Beach. One of Kauai's most isolated beaches (check your rental agreement before you venture down the long pot-hole riddled dirt road!), Polihale is certainly one of the most beautiful and unforgettable. Polihale's sea can appear calm as a lake in summer or as explosive as aquatic dynamite in the winter and sunsets here are as beautiful as you'll find on any tropical island.
The above are five of Kauai's most beautiful beaches. One could easily argue that dozens of other beaches around the island deserve to be on the list and indeed, next time they may. Your best bet is to grab a towel, a swim suit and get yourself onto one of these beaches on your next Kauai vacation.