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Kauai gets hit with big waves during the winter. You are smart to check for the best beaches on Kauai in the winter.
Here are the 7 best beaches on Kauai in the winter:
- Poipu Beach
- Kiahuna Beach
- Baby Beach Poipu
- Kalapaki Beach
- Salt Pond Beach Park
- Lawa’i Beach
- Lydgate Park Pools
While you should always check ocean conditions before you head into the water, these Kauai winter beaches are on Kauai’s South Shore or are protected from large waves and strong currents.
We will share directions to the best parking and details on each of these Kauai winter-friendly beaches so you can plan the best vacation possible in Kauai. See our Kauai Travel Guide for everything else!
Which Side of Kauai is Best in the Winter?
Kauai’s South Shore is the best in the winter from November through March. Kauai’s North Shore and parts of the East Coast or Royal Coconut Coast receive more rain during the winter and large waves from northern storms. South Shore beaches, like Poipu Beach, are on the protected side of the island.
The North Shore of Kauai receives the brunt of winter storms from as far north as the Bering Sea off the coast of Alaska. The wind energy creates large waves over hundreds of miles that go unimpeded until the Hawaiian archipelago.
Hence, the northern beaches of Kauai are dangerous for swimming during the winter months with large, unexpected waves and strong currents. Beaches like Ke’e Beach, Ha’ena Beach, and Hanalei Bay should be avoided during the winter on Kauai.
The West Side and South Shore lie on the leeward side or dry side of Kauai. Therefore, during the winter months, you can expect better swimming and snorkeling conditions on this side of Kauai. See our favorite Kauai snorkel spots if you plan to snorkel!
Visiting the best beaches on Kauai in the winter is but one thing to consider. Because, there is a best time to visit Kauai for crowds, where to stay, cost, and more.
When we visit Kauai, we prefer to stay on the South Shore during the fall and winter and the North Shore, like Princeville, during the spring and summer. Our Where to Stay Guide on Kauai guide breaks down the best places to stay, especially the Princeville vs Poipu debate.
Kauai Ocean Temperature in the Winter
The ocean temperature around Kauai averages 76 degrees Fahrenheit during the winter months. As you can see in the Kauai ocean temperature graph below, the ocean temperature stays warm year round.
You will be hard-pressed to see anyone in a wet suit in Kauai during the winter. Some snorkelers and surfers will wear a rash guard or a thin swimming garment for added heat during the winter months.
Where to Swim on Kauai in the Winter Map
South Shore beaches make up most of this list of the best beaches on Kauai in the winter. Click the map below to explore the best beaches in Kauai during the winter.
See the details on each beach below for directions to the public parking lots.
Read our 9 Best Beaches on Kauai for Swimming for our favorite beaches throughout the year.
1. Poipu Beach Park
Poipu Beach is a great place to swim, snorkel, sunbathe, and play during the winter.
Located on Kauai’s South Shore, Poipu Beach is well protected from winter swells. The cove, reef, and position of the beach make it a wonderful beach for the whole family. It is our favorite beach in our 7 Kid-Friendly Beaches on Kauai list.
Poipu Beach is actually two beaches in one as two crescent-shaped bays come together at Nukumoi Point. On the east side of Poipu Beach, there is a seawall making for a calm pool for kids to play and swim.
Poipu Beach Amenities:
- Lifeguards on duty
- Picnic tables
- Minimal shade under palm trees and a gazebo
- Restaurant, deli, and convenience store nearby
Directions: Poipu Beach 2179 Hoone Rd, Koloa, HI 96756
Poipu Beach is a Kauai beach where you can spend the whole day. Relax at the beach, head across the street for food (Puka Dog Hawaiian Style is a must), go snorkeling, or even try surfing as Nukumoi Surf Co. is located near the beach.
Our son Henry loves Poipu Beach for the playground!
2. Kiahuna Beach
Kiahuna Beach is another popular South Shore Beach on Kauai. Sheraton Kauai Beach Resort sits on Kiahuna Beach making the resort and beach a popular winter destination.
All beaches in Hawaii are public so you don’t have to stay at the resort to visit this Kauai beach in the winter. A small public parking lot and beach access are provided.
The palm tree-lined, crescent-shaped beach is great for swimming and sunbathing during the winter. Come for the day and then stay for the ‘Auli’i Lu’au, one of the three best luaus on Kauai.
Kiahuna Beach is also great for surfing during the winter (all year for that matter). Sign up for Kauai surf lessons to get out in the water. Surf lessons may complete your Hawaii experience.
Kiahuna Beach Amenities:
- Food available at the Sheraton
- No lifeguards on duty
- No pubic restrooms
Directions: Kiahuna Beach Koloa, HI 96756
3. Baby Beach Poipu
For another South Shore Beach on Kauai that is great for the kids during the winter, head to Baby Beach Poipu.
This small beach is tucked between homes in Poipu. It’s small but less crowded than Poipu Beach, which is a plus. Called Baby Beach as the small beach is tucked into a cove for small waves and a shallow depth.
The downside is that because it’s in a residential area, there’s no option for food or drink and parking is limited. There is street parking only. And there’s also no shade, so your stay at this beach may be shorter.
Directions: Baby Beach Poipu Koloa, HI 96756
4. Kalapaki Beach
Kalapaki Beach is another great Kauai beach in the winter. Fronting the Kauai Marriott Beach Club, the large beach is well-protected with a large break wall in Nawiliwili Bay.
Visit Kalapaki Beach in the winter to learn how to surf, bodyboard, standup paddleboard, swim, and soak up the sun. The large beach is popular with guests from the many resorts nearby.
Located in Lihue, you will find food trucks, restaurants, and shops nearby.
Kalapaki Beach Amenities:
- No lifeguard on duty
- Abundant restaurants and convenience stores
Directions: Kapaki Beach Public Parking Lihue, HI 96766
5. Salt Pond Beach Park
Heading over to the West Side of Kauai to Salt Pond Beach Park. Located outside of Hanapepe and Eleele, this large beach park is a local favorite. You will find a large golden sand beach with a natural reef providing protection from swells.
As Salt Pond Beach Park is on the dry side of Kauai, you can expect sunny days and calm water for swimming here in the winter. As there are few resorts in this area, this beach is rarely if ever busy.
We like to stop by here to play in the sand as part of a day exploring Hanapepe Town. Hanapepe Town has art galleries, coffee shops, restaurants, and a swinging bridge. It is one of our favorite towns on Kauai and is featured in our 35 Best Things to Do on Kauai.
Salt Pond Beach Park Amenities:
- Lifeguard on duty
- Large parking lot
- Picnic tables and BBQ grills
Directions: Salt Pond Rd, Eleele, HI 96705
6. Lawa’i Beach
Just past Baby Beach Poipu is Lawa’i Beach. Sometimes referred to as Beach House Beach as it is located next to Beach House Restaurant, this small beach is a good one during the winter as the large reef protects the beach from swells.
Choose to sunbathe on the sandy shore but you will find rocks when you enter the water. Lawa’i Beach is best for snorkeling, making it into our Top 5 Kauai Snorkeling Spots video.
Parking is limited to street parking but you will find other amenities here.
Lawa’i Beach Amenities:
- No lifeguard on duty
- Beachside snack shack
Directions: Lawai Beach Koloa, HI 96756
7. Lydgate Park Pools
Lydgate Beach Park is our most northern beach on Kauai in the winter. The beach park itself isn’t good for winter swimming but the pools are the place to go!
On the north end of the park, you will find two pools perfect for kids to swim and play. A large stone break wall stops the waves. The shallow pools also have large schools of fish inside making for a fun place to teach your kids how to snorkel.
Across the parking lot is Kamalani Playground, a large, wooden playground in case your kids need more playtime. There is a large parking lot that spans the beach. Reminder, we do not recommend swimming outside of the pools during the winter as the current can be strong along the east side of Kauai.
Lydgate Park Pools Amenities
- Lifeguards on duty
- Picnic tables
- Limited shade near the beach
Directions: Lydgate Park Pools 2MR8+H6, Lihue, HI 96766
Beach Safety on Kauai
Though many of the beaches listed have lifeguards and protected areas that are generally safe for swimmers, don’t forget the basics of beach safety:
- Check conditions before entering the water
- Never leave children unattended, even if a lifeguard is present
- SPF and sun protection equipment are crucial. See our Hawaii Travel Gear for mineral-based sunscreen and sun-protective clothing options.
- Bring plenty of water and for beaches with limited shade, consider bringing an umbrella or sun tent
Enjoy your winter vacation to Kauai! For five perfectly planned excursion days around Kauai, see our Kauai Wayfinder Itinerary. The itinerary is the easiest way to plan your Kauai vacation. Click below to learn more.
Get The Kauai Itinerary
The step-by-step itinerary takes you to all the best beaches, snorkeling spots, restaurants, and sights. You’ll get six carefully planned excursion days to help you see the can’t miss stops no matter how limited your time is.
Get all the details on our itinerary and download it for a memorable and easily planned trip to Kauai.