Kauapea (Secret) Beach

Top choice in Hanalei Bay & the North Shore

Far from being ‘secret,’ must-see Kauapea Beach is renowned as one of the most breathtaking beaches on Kaua‘i. You won’t see it signposted, though, and can only reach it via a steep ten-minute hike. Down below the cliffs, its powdery golden sands stretch for over a mile towards Kilauea Point, wrapping around two rock reefs. Thanks to a massive shore break and strong currents that sweep its full length, however, swimming is only safe on the calmest summer days.

For most visitors, it’s the sheer spectacle that’s the thing, with a sandy ocean floor, crystal-clear seas and superb sunsets. Part of beach’s ‘secret’ reputation dates back to its days as an (illegal) nudist hangout, but you’re less likely to see nudity these days. Expert local surfers do brave the waves, especially during the winter swells that make swimming even more hazardous than usual. If the swells are even a little bit big or rough, don’t venture into knee-deep water, and don’t clamber on the rocky outcrops, which are notorious for drownings.

Turn makai (seaward) onto Kalihiwai Rd half a mile north of Kilauea’s gas station, then take a right on the first dirt road, just after the initial bend. Park at the end of the road, and follow the steep trail down through wild plum trees to the beach.

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