Hanalei Bay is by far the largest bay on Kauai and is the heart and soul of all the beaches on the North Shore. The area upon which the ocean touches the shores of the bay is what is known as Hanalei Beach the this colossal spectacle of a beach is perhaps two-miles long and in most places over 100' wide. Hanalei Beach is so large in fact that it has two major sections, Hanalei Beach proper which lies on the east side where the Hanalei Pier is found, and "Pinetree's" which begins more at the center of the bay in an area that is obviously lined with Pine Trees. To the extreme east of the bay beyond the pier is the mouth of the beautiful Hanalei River and it is from this location that some of the kayak and boating companies depart from a small loading ramp. This area is called "Black Pot". As an added touch of beautification mother nature has provided the most idyllic of backdrops to this amazing place in the form of the Hanalei Mountains which starkly jettison skywards often ascending into a cloud cover and large and multiple waterfalls can generally be seen plummeting down its escarpments. Standing on the beach in Hanalei, it is very easy to remember that "you are not in Kansas anymore".
When the waters are calm at Hanalei, typically in the summer months, the beach is very inviting. The sand from the beach extends into the water and this sand bottom is very user friendly. Waves will typically break some fifty yards or so off shore leaving some room to enjoy the water near to the shore. With the winter comes the big surf and waves can get gigantic in Hanalei. Most of the action for the experienced surfers can be found at Hanalei Point. Smaller waves are usually found just town side of the pier and this is where you'll find most of the surfing schools in the area. Depending upon surf conditions, these schools can offer lessons in both the summer and the winter months.
Although there are a couple different faces that Hanalei shows over the course of the year it is important to beware of the conditions at all times. There is a lifeguard tower at "Pinetree's" and in a recent lengthy discussion with one of the life guards on duty, he said that probably most of the rescues that take place on the North Shore are at Hanalei Beach which serves as a testimony to how dangerous this beach can be. In all fairness to the beach itself, the larger number of rescues here is probably at least partially a factor of the number of people that actually use the beach which is by far much more than most other locations. In any event you need to get the point that this is a beach to which you need to show a proper amount of respect. It's great that it has a lifeguard tower but before you get in the water you need to speak to a lifeguard in person and make certain that the day you are there is a good day to enter the ocean and also he will direct you to the most likely safe area of the beach.
As far as amenities are concerned Hanalei Beach has most of them including picnic tables and barbecue stations, bathrooms and showers, volley ball courts and parking lots. Keep in mind though that particularly on holidays and weekends the area can be packed and parking spaces will be harder to find.
Be advised that all beaches and ocean locations in Hawaii can be dangerous including this one. Be completely aware of the ocean conditions prior to entering any Hawaiian waters. Be certain that a lifeguard is on duty at this location and be certain to ask him where the best place for you to swim at this beach will be on the day you are there based upon the current ocean and wind conditions. Also, all shorelines and beaches in Hawaii, including this one, can be frequented by sharks, jellyfish and other sea creatures which can provide potential harm to people entering the water.
Anahola Beach is a great choice for a beach on Kauai. Not only is Anahola picturesque with scenic vistas and a great expanse of beautiful white sand but its protective outer reef of Anahola Bay makes it a less dangerous area in which to enjoy the water than many other beach locations.
Kalihiwai Beach is one of the truly beautiful North Shore Beaches. It is scenically positioned between two prominent points of land and its perfect crescent shape is first noticeable as you get a glimpse of the bay when driving down the roadway which dead-ends at the beach itself.
Lumahai Beach is Kauai's equivalent of the Venus Fly Trap. A case could be made that this may perhaps be the most beautiful beach on the island. Because of its beauty Lumahai Beach was the spot that was chosen to film South Pacific and it is hard to take a photo of this beach that does not come out picture postcard perfect.
In many ways the Mahaulepu Beach experience is more of a hiking adventure than a traditional beach outing. The beautiful sands of Mahaulepu Beach are essentially the hiking path that will take you on a two mile journey starting from Shipwreck Beach in Poipu all the way to the cliffs on the eastern side.
Picturesque is a word that could easily be used to describe Moloa'a Bay. The few vacation rentals that dot this east side bay obviously have the same point of view, as their beachfront locations make a memorable impression in any photograph and aid in luring potential clients to their scenic ocean retreats.
The only reason we are including the Queen's Bath on our list of beaches on Kauai is to dissuade you from going there at all. At the time of this writing I am not exactly certain how many people have lost their lives here but a year has passed by since the official tally had reached 29 persons.
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