Important Information about Ocean Safety
Before you go to one of our beautiful beaches, please check Today’s Ocean Conditions.
Varied shoreline topography, open-ocean swells and constantly changing conditions make our beaches beautiful, great for surfing, and often DANGEROUS. Here are some safety tips to help you have a safe Hawaii vacation.
- Swim at lifeguarded beaches – ask lifeguards for safety and swimming tips.
- Lifeguards post warning signs – Don’t ignore them! Read them and heed them!
- Conditions constantly change – daily and seasonal changes must be monitored closely.
- Waves come in sets – it can look calm for up to 20 minutes between dangerous sets of huge waves.
- Hazards can exist in ANY coastal area – not just in the water. Be careful on wet sand and rocks.
- Do not fight a rip current – if caught in a current keep calm, float, breathe, don’t panic, and wave for help. Go WITH the current and conserve energy.
- Use the buddy system – never swim alone & know your limits.
- When in doubt – don’t go out!
Be very careful when you are in and near the water and use common sense. Hazardous ocean conditions such as high surf, strong currents, sudden drop-offs and sharp, slippery coral can cause dangerous swimming conditions. And, please, swim only at beaches with a life guard. It’s best to check in with the life guard before going into the ocean. Kauai’s life guards have experience and training to help Kauai’s beach goers be safe while having fun at the beach.
Waves in Hawaii – In general, North Shore beaches are calmest in the summer months (May-September) and South Shore is calmest in the winter (October-April). Therefore it’s important to check conditions, especially the North Shore in winter and the South Shore in summer.
North Shore Beaches
Ke’e – lifeguard/swimming/snorkeling/facilities – This is as far as you can go by car on the North Shore. This beautiful reef protected beach is typically calm. This is also where the Napali coast’s Kalalau Trail begins. It can get very crowded and parking may be an issue.
Tunnels/Makua – swimming/snorkeling/surfing – A *favorite* snorkeling beach with very limited parking. Get here early. To park, take a right on the dirt road 4/10 miles past the 8 mile marker on hwy. 560.
Hanalei Bay – Pine Trees/Wai’oli – lifeguard/surfing/facilities – Waves are typically bigger here, on the western side of the bay. From here you can walk all the way to the pier.
Hanalei Bay – Pavilion – lifeguard/swimming/boogie boarding/facilities – This eastern side of the bay is typically calmer. A great place to walk on the beach at sunset.
Anini – swimming/kid friendly – This reef protected beach is typically VERY calm if you stay close to shore. Can be accessed by car or you can walk to the western end (down 200’) from the end of Wyllie Rd. in Princeville.
Secret/Kauapea – Beautiful beach worth the 10-15 minute hike from parking. Swimmable with good snorkeling (ONLY on calm summer days).
East Side Beaches
Donkey/Paliku – surfing – Beautiful secluded beach worth the 10 minute walk from parking.
Kealia – lifeguard/boogie boarding/surfing/facilities – right on the highway north of Kapaa.
Lydgate Park – lifeguard/swimming/kid friendly/facilities – great beach for kids most of the year with two boulder enclosed ponds. Also has 2 nice playgrounds.
Kalapaki – swimming/SUP/facilities – gentle sloping beach in front of Marriot with multiple restaurants. Depending on conditions can also be a great beginner boogie board or surf beach.
South Shore Beaches
Shipwreck – surfing/boogie boarding – In front of the Hyatt but typically not good for swimming.
Brennecke – boogie boarding – great for boogie boarding and can rent them across the street.
Po’ipu Park – lifeguard/swimming/kid friendly/snorkeling/facilities – a great all around beach which can get crowded.
Kiahuna/Sheraton – swimming/surfing/boogie boarding/snorkeling – a good all around beach with the surfing on the outside of the reef.
West Side Beaches
Salt Pond Park – lifeguard/swimming/facilities – Not a lot of tourists here and typically windy.
Lucy Wright Park – lifeguard – Where Captain Cook first landed in Hawaii. Near the mouth of the Waimea River so water is often murky.
Polihale – secluded 12.5 miles of uninterrupted sand beach. The sand can get very hot and the entire beach is unprotected (no reefs so surf is potentially dangerous).