Kauai’s 3 Best East Side Beaches to Visit

The Garden Island of Kauai is the northernmost Hawaiian island boasting jaw-dropping views, lush, jagged coastlines, and stunning beaches. There’s no better way to experience the beauty of Kauai than by visiting its magical beaches. The east side of Kauai (between Kapaa and Lihue) offers many beautiful beaches that can be enjoyed year-round. So, which east side beaches should you make sure to visit while vacationing on Kauai?

Donkey Beach

#1. Lydgate Beach Park

Catagory: Parks, Playground, Beaches

Lydgate Beach Park has to make the number one spot on the ‘top 3 beaches on the east side of Kauai’ list because it offers amenities for the whole family to enjoy, including a huge playground for the kids and plenty of large grassy areas for getting in some beach yoga, or a morning jog. It is a long, sandy beach and is the largest beach out of the three featured east side beaches on our list, with great Kauai coastline views.

Lydgate Beach Park amenities include:

  • Covered Pavilions for Parties or Gatherings
  • Picnic Tables
  • Showers
  • Paved Parking Lots

An early morning swim at Lydgate is one of the best ways to start the day

Lydgate Beach Park is one of the best kid beaches on Kauai

The beach has two sides, one that’s completely exposed to the ocean and offers some reef and shore break, and another that’s been enclosed by a rock wall into two pools. It’s probably one of the safer beaches on Kauai simply because the swim area is enclosed and blocked off by a rock wall. So if it’s your first time to the island and you’re unsure about the tides of the ocean, this might be the perfect beach for you to start with.

The two different pools at Lydgate Beach Park include:

  • A wading ‘baby’ pool for the kids (first ‘pool’ pictured above)
  • A larger pool that’s about 7-8 feet deep (perfect for snorkeling)

This is a fun place for kids to snorkel, as little fish are regularly seen in both of the pools. The morning (before noon) is the best time to see the fish, but they can also be found close by the rocks throughout the day and in the evening. Even when the ocean is rough, these two pools are calm and enjoyable. This beach is great for families as it also has plenty of space and a nice playground for younger kids to enjoy.

Other highlights of Lydgate Beach Park:

  • Kamalani Playground – complete with a swinging bridge – is located across the way and offers plenty to do should your little ones tire of the beach
  • Big, grassy area to run around and play – plenty of room for exploring
  • Massive pavilion (w/a decent size stage), which is great for big get-togethers (reservations required) and located right next to the playground.

Swim at the beach, play at the park, or simply relax…all at Lydgate Beach Park

Swim at the beach, play at the park, or simply relax…all at Lydgate Beach Park

Lydgate Beach Park tends to get crowded during the day, but early in the morning (sunrise early), it is a great place to get a few laps in, or to do yoga on the beach. Even when it is crowded, there is plenty of space to do laps or relax in your ‘own’ area.

  • Lifeguard: Yes
  • Restrooms: Yes
  • Showers: Yes
  • Snorkeling: Yes
  • Skill Level: Beginner, Moderate & Advanced Swimmers

Directions to Lydgate Beach Park

Address: 4470 Nalu Rd., Kapaa, HI. 96746

Lydgate Beach Park is located at the South end of Kapaa in between Kapaa and Lihue. Lydgate Beach is also close enough to Waipouli Beach Resort rentals in Kapaa that you could ride a bike South on the Kapaa Bike Path to get there if you’re a guest at the resort.

  • Heading toward Kapaa town from Lihue on Kuhio Hwy. turn right on to Leho Dr. (last right before double bridge) and then turn left on Nalu Rd. Follow Nalu Rd. until you get to the beach park parking lot.
  • Heading toward Lihue from Kapaa on Kuhio Hwy. turn left on to Leho Dr. (first left after double bridge) and then turn left on Nalu Rd. Follow Nalu Rd. until you get to the beach park parking lot.

The beach park is not visible from the highway.

#2. Kealia Beach

Category: Beaches

Kealia Beach is a wide, sandy beach that provides plenty of space for tanning and beach-goers, and also offers pavilions to picnic and grill. This is a family friendly beach, and is also popular with surfers and body boarders. This is the beach to go to if you’re looking for that romantic walk on the beach and is a good Kapaa beach to go to for an early morning run.

Beginner swimmers should stay to the left (North) side of the beach, closer to the rock wall – the waves are not as strong. There is a lifeguard on duty, so be sure to sit close to the lifeguard tower if you are not too familiar with Hawaii waters. Kealia Beach is known for having rip currents, so be sure to check all ocean and weather conditions before going in the water.

Kealia Beach

The Kapaa Bike Path is a nice and wide, paved trail that runs along several miles of oceanfront – and runs along Kealia Beach. Easy accessibility, amenities, and the Kapaa Bike Path are the main reasons we’re ranking this as the second best east side beach on our list. You will see a lot of walkers, runners, cyclists, families with strollers, and people walking their dogs along this east side multi-use path.

Eventually the Kauai Bike Path will connect Kealia Beach to Kalapaki Beach in Lihue (see below), providing an excellent way to get around Kauai if you’re on a budget, or too young and unable to drive. Following the Kapaa Bike Path will lead you on a scenic, oceanfront adventure throughout Kapaa Town, providing access to many island amenities.

  • Lifeguard: Yes
  • Restrooms: Yes
  • Showers: Yes
  • Snorkeling: Yes
  • Skill Level: Moderate & Advanced Swimmers

Directions to Kealia Beach

Address: Kuhio Hwy, Kapaa HI.

Kealia Beach is located at the North end of Kapaa town (between Kapaa and Anahola) off of Kuhio Highway. Kealia is close enough to Waipouli Beach Resort rentals in Kapaa that you could ride a bike North on the Kapaa Bike Path to get there if you’re a guest at the resort.

  • Heading to Kapaa town on Kuhio Hwy. from the north shore, Kealia Beach will be on your left hand side a little before Kapaa town.
  • Heading to Anahola on Kuhio Hwy. from Kapaa, Kealia Beach will be on your right hand side a little after you leave Kapaa town.

The beach is visible from the highway.

#3. Kalapaki Beach

Category: Beaches

Kalapaki Beach is a crescent-shaped, sandy beach that beckons you with its calm, blue waters of the Pacific Ocean. While Kalapaki Beach isn’t located in Kapaa, but in Lihue, this beach makes the top three because it’s an east side Kauai beach that can be enjoyed by all ages as it is protected by a man-made wall several hundred feet offshore, and also offers a lot of amenities.

Kalapaki Beach is a great all around beach for the whole family

kalapaki beach

This is a popular Kauai beach for both locals and tourists as there is plenty to do nearby and within walking distance. Kalapaki has a popular surf break when the conditions are right, providing tons of viewing entertainment for beach-goers.

Additional activities at Kalapaki Beach include:

  • Beach Volleyball
  • Surf Lessons
  • Catamaran Cruises
  • Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP)
  • Kayaking
  • Body & Boogie Boarding
  • Shore Fishing
  • Dining
  • Shopping

Kalapaki Beach is also where Nawiliwili Boat Harbor, Kauai’s main shipping harbor, and the Lihue Lighthouse are located. Many people enjoy watching the cruise ships and shipping barges come in as well as the local fishing boats.

  • Lifeguard: No
  • Restrooms: Yes
  • Showers: Yes
  • Snorkeling: No
  • Skill Level: Beginner, Moderate & Advanced Swimmers

There are many restaurants located near Kalapaki Beach including:

  • Duke’s Kauai
  • Kalapaki Joe’s
  • Kalapaki Grill
  • Kalapaki Beach Hut
  • Nawiliwili Tavern
  • Cafe Portofino
  • Mariachi’s Authentic Mexican Restaurant
  • JJ’s Broiler

Directions to Kalapaki Beach From Lihue Airport

Address: Rice Street, Lihue, HI. 96766

  • Turn left out of Lihue Airport and follow Kuhio Hwy. until you reach Rice Street. Turn Left on Rice Street and follow the road for about 0.5 miles. Look for a place to park on the left-hand side shortly after passing the Kauai Mariott entrance.

The beach is visible from the highway.

Contributing Characteristics of a Good Beach

What makes a beach good for vacationing? Besides having clean, blue water, soft sand, and sunny weather, we are rating these Kauai beaches based on the following characteristics:

  • Safety
  • Accessibility
  • Crowds
  • Views
  • Activities/Options
  • Overall Enjoyability