beaches kauai

Hanalei Bay

Surf and play on crescent-shaped Hanalei Bay – one of Hawaii’s most beautiful and best surfing beaches.

Hanalei Bay is set on Kauai’s majestic north shore

Hanalei Bay is a huge, crescent-shaped bay and one of Hawaii’s most scenic beaches.

Hanalei Bay
Safest swimming is often at the Hanalei Pier

During the summer months, the waters of Hanalei Bay are calmer, making it great for learning to surf, swimming, and sailing. The white sandy beach is ideal for sunbathing and for leisurely walks along the long, gentle sloped shoreline. Dozens of sailboats moored in the bay during the summer months leave during the winter when larger waves arrive.

During the winter months, there are often large waves breaking in Hanalei Bay and, for experienced surfers, some of the surf in Hawaii. Novice swimmers will need to use caution and always check with lifeguards first.

Tip: One of Kauai’s most family-friendly beaches, Hanalei Bay is staffed with lifeguards who will let you know about the current conditions. If you are not a confident water person – surf and play next to a lifeguard tower.

Hanalei Beaches

There are several beaches that makeup Hanalei Bay.


The safest swimming area is often in the area near the historic Hanalei Pier on the eastern side of the bay which is more protected from the open sea. This is also where the Hanalei River empties into the bay.

Paddle Boarding

Hawaii Paddle Boarding Kauai by VinceRocca

Another popular activity is paddling on a stand-up paddleboard either in the bay or up the Hanalei River which is a wide and generally very calm waterway. If you continue along far enough up the river you can even paddle underneath the Hanalei Bridge, the historic one-lane bridge that is considered the “gateway to Hanalei.” When the ocean is calm it is fun to paddle along the Hanalei Bay shoreline or even tries your skills at riding some waves.

Hanalei Town

Couple walking through Hanalei Town

Rainbows are seen on almost a daily basis as the passing Tradewind showers keep the area lush and green. Hanalei Bay is clearly one of the most lovely and charming beaches to be found anywhere. The small town of Hanalei sits at about the mid-point of Hanalei Bay and provides a variety of nice shops and places to eat. The bay itself is a long white ribbon of sand that is about two miles from end to end and with a gentle slope that makes it nice for a leisurely walk.

Hanalei Pier

Near Hanalei Pier is Black Pot Beach Park, a favorite local picnicking spot. Many families stay for the weekend and you are sure to see people fishing and firing up their barbecues as kids play on Hanalei Pier and in the bay near the river mouth. While many surfers enjoy riding the shore break along the Hanalei Bay shoreline, some of the world’s premier surfing spots are located farther offshore, off the eastern and western points of Hanalei Bay.


To drive yourself to Hanalei, you just have to take the Kuhio Highway or Highway 56. Just pursuing the highway will lead you straight to Hanalei.