Hanalei Beach is the centerpiece of Kauai’s North Shore. Located in Hanalei Bay at the town of Hanalei, the gently curving, two-mile-long beach features a wide sandy beach, a sandy ocean bottom and the Hanalei Pier.
Majestic tropical mountains, often draped with waterfalls, serve as the backdrop. Sunsets at the beach, framed by the mysterious Bali Hai mountain (Mount Makana) on the horizon, are almost surreal in their beauty. The drop-dead gorgeous beach has been featured in several movies including South Pacific and The Descendants.
Though Hanalei Beach is the general term for the entire two-mile long beach, there are distinct sections of the beach with unique names and characteristics. Black Pot Beach Park is a magical section of beach set between the Hanalei Pier and the mouth of the Hanalei River.
Just a couple of years ago you could park on the beach here and have the ultimate tailgate party. However, heavy flooding damaged the beach in 2018, and the beach was reconstructed without its customary shade or parking. Nevertheless, despite the new look, the location remains an enchanted water wonderland.
Towards the middle of the beach, at about the half-way point, is Waioli Beach. Waioli Beach Park is known for its Ironwood trees, green grass and surf culture.
Also known as Pine Trees Beach, this is where Andy Irons and his brother learned to surf, and the beach continues to attract the local surfer crowd.
In addition to the Hanalei River at the eastern end of the beach, the Waioli Stream flows into the bay at the other (western) end of the beach. This less-visited section of the beach is popular with local families.
Beyond the Waioli Stream is a thin section of beach that is adjacent to the highway. The small Waikoko Beach is found in this section.
The sandy beaches and gently rolling waves of Hanalei Bay are perfect for a variety of activities. Swimming, surfing, bodyboarding, standup paddle boarding, volleyball, sunbathing and relaxing are some of the many activities found at the beach.
Surfers can find waves next to the Hanalei Pier and Waioli Beach Park. For pro surfers, there are larger waves to be found in the middle of the bay and in an area offshore beyond the Hanalei River Ridge area.
There are several lifeguard stations at the beach. Cold showers and restrooms can be found at Black Pot Beach Park and Waioli Beach Park. Camping, with a permit, is permitted at Black Pot Beach Park on weekends.
You also have picnic tables at your disposal for a peaceful lunch with a view.
The best time to visit the Hanalei Bay Beach is in the summer months as weather and surf conditions can be more unpredictable in other seasons. Between the middle of September to the middle of May, the bay is exposed to more powerful, winter waves.
Though advantageous for surfers, the waves can be problematic in winter months for swimmers and beachgoers. Infrequently during the winter, storms will churn up big waves at Hanalei Bay.
Location at Google Maps
Boats anchor in Hanalei Bay Beach during the summer months and sunsets are splendid here.
The Golden Hours for photography at this beach are superb. It’s also a popular place for wedding and event photos, making it one of the most photographed beaches in all of Hawaii.