The seashore from Lihue to Kapa'a: the beaches of East Kauai
East of Kauai is where the most populated towns are found along the coastline between Lihue and Kapa'a. Well, let's be honest, it is not in this area of Kauai that we are going to find the most beautiful beaches, but these can be interesting for all those who will stay in the vicinity, as the area is very convenient to radiate throughout the island.
In this article, we will therefore review the different beaches and points of interest that we will find successively from Lihue to Kapa'a, gradually going up the coast towards the north.
1Beaches and points of interest around Lihue
Lihue is famous for its airport and large shopping centres and restaurants. Its central location makes it a great place to stay when visiting Kauai. On the sea side there are some pleasant beaches near the city's major resorts. But first let's start this article with a small panorama.
Menehune Fishpond Overlook
Here is a nice viewpoint to discover during a trip near Lihue, which opens on a small fishpond (pond where fishes remain trapped at low tide) at the foot of the long ridge that separates Lihue from Poipu (the old Kaluahonu crater).
Below, the Huleia river flows peacefully through a particular mangrove ecosystem that has been colonized by a species of Red Mangrove (invasive in Hawaii). A project is now underway by a team of volunteers to eliminate the invasive species and reforest the banks of the fishpond with Hawaiian species.
It is possible to go kayaking on the river. You will find a rental service at Niumalu Beach Park.
How to get to the Menehune Fishpond Overlook
Access to the overlook is from the Hulemalu Road that runs south around the Lihue shopping area. A place on the road shoulder allows a few cars to park and admire the panorama.
This is probably the liveliest beach in Kauai! Here, in addition to the semicircular beach, which is interesting for swimming, you'll especially get the atmosphere of the seaside promenade that runs along the large Marriott hotel with its rows of coconut palms and impeccable lawns.
The place is ideal for a stroll and a drink at the end of the day, moreover the establishment at the beginning of the walk offers a terrace with sea view on the first floor as well as a waterfall inside.
On the beach side, Marriott guests will enjoy the beach thanks to the deckchairs offered by the hotel (use reserved for hotel guests), but as the beach is large, you can easily find a small spot to put your towel on the sand or on the lawn.
The ocean offers here beautiful waves to surfers and swimming will be pleasant during the summer (the waves being more numerous in winter). A shower is located at the entrance of the boardwalk and another is accessible at the Marriott.
It is possible to rent snorkeling or beach equipment at the beginning of the promenade.
How to get to Kalapaki beach
In spite of the presence of a rather large car park at the beginning of the bay near the port, it will still be rather difficult to park easily here, the latter being very often full. Other parking spaces are located near the small adjacent shopping area. You will then have to take the small bridge to reach the beach. Be careful, access is impossible at the Marriott if you are not a customer.
Ahukini Recreational Pier State Park
Although this place is a State Park, it is of little interest unless you have some time to kill while waiting for your next flight, wherever you want to go fishing.
On the spot there is only a large parking lot with a partially bare rusty old wharf on which you can walk a little and watch the sea... and the fishermen.
How to get to Ahukini Recreational Pier State Park
It is easily accessible from Ahukini Road which runs along the airport. The road ends in a cul-de-sac at the end of which is the car park. There are no amenities on site.
Hanamā'ulu Beach Park
Here is a small hidden bay that can be pleasant to rest or have a picnic in a quiet place. Here the beach is not very welcoming and swimming is not recommended because the water is rather muddy, but it is pleasant to sit in the shade of the small pine forest located between the ocean and a small pond.
Unfortunately it may be that the place is sometimes quite badly frequented especially in the evening, be careful.
At the entrance of the Beach Park there is also a covered area with a few picnic tables, toilets and a playground for children.
How to get to Hanamā 'ulu Beach Park
Access is at the end of Hehi road, which is entered at the level of the small residential area located on the heights of Hanamā'ulu. The road then passes under the Highway before reaching the waterfront.
Nukoli'i Beach Park
Nukoli'i Beach Park offers access to a long, wild but narrow sandy beach where you can swim or take a quiet stroll. The area is quiet uncrowded and swimming is protected by the reef just off the beach, forming a small channel that turns into a lagoon at low tide.
Beware of the rising or falling tide which can create a strong and potentially dangerous current at the reef.
Do not hesitate to walk northwards, the beach becomes wider and more pleasant after about 200m/220yards. Note that there is no real shade on the beach. Sanitary facilities with shower are accessible at the level of the car park.
How to get to Nukoli'i Beach Park
Nukoli'i Beach Park is easily accessible by following the Kauai Beach Road from the Highway, at the end of which there is a 15-20 car park.
2Beaches around Wailua and Kapa'a
Kapa'a is the most populated city in Kauai and this can be seen in its lively streets. Around Wailua and Kapa'a there are long sandy beaches bordered by large hotels and residential complexes. The location is also ideal to stay on the island because it is very central. The only drawback will be the constant traffic jams that concentrate around the bridge over the Wailua River, which may give you a hard time in the mornings and evenings...
Lydgate Beach Park
Lydgate Beach Park is a huge seaside recreation area that stretches about 1.5 km/1 mile south of Wailua.
Its southern part borders a long wild beach where large pick-up trucks sometimes come to drive. Nevertheless the beach is very pleasant for a short walk along the seafront, especially as you won't be too disturbed here.
Still on the south side, there is also a large, quiet campsite with different types and sizes of pitches and equipped with a large, rather basic toilet block. Close to the campsite there's a strange playground, the Kamalani Play Bridge, which will delight children. The structure is huge and looks like a wooden castle. The whole seemed a little abandoned because it was not much used, but the condition was good.
On the north side, there are a large number of picnic tables, some of which are sheltered. A second playground is also available for younger children. On the beach side, it is in this area of the park that the swimming area is located. It is supervised and protected by a closed dyke. It consists of two parts: a large, medium-deep bathing area and a small, shallow lagoon protected by a second dike, ideal for the little ones. The area is very popular with families. Showers and sanitary facilities are located nearby.
At the end of the park are the ruins of the Hikinaakala Heiau, an ancient Hawaiian temple.
How to get to Lydgate Beach Park
Lydgate Beach Park is so large that it can be reached by 2 road accesses. The southern area is served by the Nehe Road. Parking is at the level of the campsite. To access the main area, you will have to take the Nalu Road. There are two large car parks before and after the swimming area.
Wailua Beach Park
This wide sandy beach is not really suitable for swimming because here the waves come to wash up on the sand. The place is not very crowded, yet located in the heart of the town of Wailua. One will rather come here to walk by the ocean and enjoy the sunrise, the beach being exposed due west.
How to get to Wailua Beach Park
A small car park allows you to park at the beginning of the beach. Access is located just after the bridge over the Wailua River and is only possible in the south-north direction. If you are coming from the north, you will have to turn back a little further and retrace your steps.
Lae Nani beach
This small beach located on the edge of the Wailua resorts offers a pleasant swimming area thanks to a small artificial lagoon at the very end of the beach. The small basin is formed by a closed dyke that isolates it from the tumult of the ocean, letting only the big waves that come to fill it from time to time.
Make sure the water is clean before you swim in it, as the water may not be replenished on calm sea days. Beware of bacteria.
It is also possible to swim from the sandy beach when the sea is calm or at low tide, as there is a reef a few metres from the shore, leaving a small natural lagoon when the water recedes sufficiently. The place is also very pleasant at sunset and not very crowded. A shower is installed on site near the small stone basin.
How to get to Lae Nani beach
To get to Lae Nani beach you can either take the small access path that passes to the north of the Kauai Shore Hotel or walk along the seafront directly from the south from the Lava Lava Club (a nice and good little bar restaurant). From here, a short path leads to the east of the beach, after passing an old Heiau which is located on a rocky promontory. It is also possible to take a small passage that leads to the beach directly from Papaloa Road just before arriving at Kapaa Sands, this last access leading to the West of the beach.
The very long sandy Waipouli beach borders several resorts and beachfront residences in Kapa'a. Here the beach is rather classic and is mostly frequented by guests or residents of the neighbouring resorts.
One will appreciate the view on the ridges to the south. As for swimming, it can be pleasant at low tide, as a reef is very close to the beach and can create small lagoons in places, to be reserved for a small "dip" in the water.
Beware of currents that can be strong during high tides or bad weather.
As you go up to the north, the beach gradually disappears and only the small channel formed by the reef near the shoreline is left. It will be much more difficult to swim here unless you only take advantage of the small channel.
Please note that there are no facilities on this beach but the different hotel complexes have showers near the beach.
How to get to Waipouli beach
The long beach of Waipouli can be reached by crossing one of the many hotel complexes adjacent to the beach. Choose one that has a few public parking spaces near the beach, such as the Waipouli Beach Resort, which then allows you to walk easily to the seafront.
Located near the center of Kapa'a, the small Fuji beach offers the possibility to swim in a small shallow lagoon protected by the reef which is a few meters from the edge at the beginning of the beach. The place is therefore ideal for swimming for the little ones.
Be alert to the currents that can form during high tides or if the ocean is choppy.
There are no facilities on site. A few picnic tables are set up by the roadside or in the small park at the end of the beach. We regret that the area around the beach is not very attractive.
How to get to Fuji beach
A first dirt car park is accessible along the sea on Moanakai Road. A second, slightly larger one is at the end of the road.
Kapa'a Beach Park
The long and wide Kapa'a beach starts at the beginning of the famous Ke Ala Hele Makalae promenade and bicycle path. But although this beach is located in the heart of Kapa'a, the infrastructure of the beach park is a little abandoned, probably due to the poor attendance of the sanitary facilities which are often closed... Too bad because the beach itself is far from being ugly despite the driftwood that accumulates in places.
On the other hand, the seaside promenade on the Ke Ala Hele Makalae is very pleasant, on foot or by bike. It is well maintained, grassed and runs alongside the seaside residences.
How to get to Kapa'a Beach Park
There is a small parking lot at the end of Niu Street, near the toilet block. It is also possible to park in the Kapa'a centre and then access the waterfront by following one of the many small roads leading to it.
This last beach concludes our article on East Kauai. The continuation of the beaches from the north of Kapa'a to Princeville is in our next article: The hidden and wild beaches of the northeast coast of Kauai