Kauai is ringed by beautiful beaches, from Polihale on the west shore, to Poipu on the south, to Anini, Tunnels & Ke'e on the north shore. Which beach is best will depend on several factors: weather conditions, time of year, activities you plan to engage in and your own personal preference. Now traveling to Kauai from the East Coast and back is cheaper, thanks to Deal Checker and similar sites, that can give you the power to control your flight expenses.
kauai beaches on the north shore
are calmest in the summer months, while the south shore is nicest
in the winter. High surf is larger on the north shore due to
Kauai's position in the Pacific Ocean. In the winter, the swells
can make north shore beaches quite dangerous so please be
careful. Be observant and prudent where ever you go,
regardless of the time of year.
You will find that beach conditions are
usually best in the morning. Click on each shore
listed above for more information on each area.
the ocean is a very powerful force. It's not a swimming
pool or a lake or a river. The waves are powerful and can
take you by surprise. Rogue waves have overpowered even
the strongest swimmers. Please observe
conditions before entering the water and be cautious and alert
at all times.
Most waves are
formed by wind on the water. Sea waves usually result from
storms, often hundreds of miles from shore. Waves are not all
equal in size. Sometimes a group of larger waves comes ashore
one after another. This is known as a "set" of
waves. When waves break at an angle to the shoreline, they
push water sideways, forming a current that moves parallel to
the beach. This is called a side current.
the side current meets an obstacle – like a sandbar, channel,
hole, rock jetty or pier – the flow of water is diverted away
from the beach forming a rip current (also known as a rip
tide). Rip currents are the return flow of water moving away
from shore back to sea. They can be swift and powerful, and will
often carry unwary swimmers away from shore.
Rip currents can
be 50 feet to 50 yards or more wide. They can flow to a point
just past the breaking surf (the surfline) or hundreds of yards
offshore. Around 80% of rescues by lifeguards at America's surf
beaches are due to swimmers/surfers being caught in rip currents.
Look for any of the following clues,
which may indicate the presence of rip currents:
- a channel of churning, choppy water
- a line of foam, seaweed, or debris
moving steadily seaward
- an area having a notable difference
in water color
- a break in the incoming wave pattern
Rip currents may
pull continuously, but they can suddenly appear or intensify
after a set of waves, or when there is a breach in an offshore
sandbar. Although rip currents are responsible for the majority
of beach rescues, they are usually easy to escape from. It is when an
unwary swimmer tries to swim directly against a rip current that
he or she will be in danger. A rip current can only pull you out
to sea, it will not pull you under. Therefore, by simply
relaxing, and calmly swimming parallel to shore with the side
current, one can escape from a rip current. Panic and
fatigue are what endanger swimmers in rip currents.
Like any ocean,
the waters of Kauai do contain sharks. Primarily these are
tiger sharks or white-tipped reef sharks. Recently there
have been a slight increase in the number of reported shark
attacks - Bethany Hamilton being the best known.
However, your chances of being bitten by a shark are
actually very small, so fear of sharks shouldn't keep you out of
the water -- unless it's murky water. Sharks do hunt in
murky water so that is not a safe place for you to be.
Sharks are also more active at dawn and dusk, so be observant if
you are in the water at those times. Sharks bite surfers
more often than swimmers because from below, a person on a surf
board seems to look a lot like a seal; a favorite shark
You are not
likely to see a shark on your trip, but if you do encounter one,
SWIM AWAY SLOWLY. Slow, calm movements will avoid
drawing their attention. If you thrash about in fear
trying to hurry away, that will get you noticed. The shark may
then mistake you for a fish in distress and decide you'd make a
When enjoying the
ocean while on Kauai, please
follow these guidelines:
- It is highly
recommended that you swim at beaches with a
lifeguard on duty.
- Observe ocean
conditions carefully– Is there a lifeguard? If
not, are there other swimmers in the water? Does it look
safe? If you observe a rip current, you
probably should stay out of the water. Sit and watch the
ocean for a few minutes before going in.
- Never swim alone
- always swim/snorkel with a buddy and remain together.
There will be
warning signs at many beaches, advising you of which things
you should be watching out for. Please take note of and obey
- Do not turn your
back on the ocean. Large “rogue waves” come ashore
- Never swim in the
mouth of a river. Areas where a river flows into the ocean often
have strong rip currents, even in times of small waves.
- Never swim in
murky water - the risk of a shark attack are much greater in
- Don’t walk too
close to the shorebreak - larger waves can knock you
fins are advisable as they give you more power to get to shore.
- ALWAYS keep your eye on small
children - do
not allow them to play in the water unattended.
If caught in a rip current:
Remain calm to conserve energy and think
Never fight the current.
Think of it like a treadmill that cannot
be turned off, of which you need to step to the side.
Swim out of the current in a direction
following the shoreline. When out of the current, swim at an
angle -- away from the current -- towards shore.
If you are unable to swim out of the rip
current, float or calmly tread water. When out of the
current, swim towards shore.
If you are still unable to reach shore,
draw attention to yourself by waving your arm and yelling
Panic and fatigue are what endanger
swimmers in rip currents.