Ocean sunset on a Na Pali Coast Sunset Cruise in Kauai, Hawaii

Kauai Sunset: 12 Stunning Places for Sunset in Kauai!

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Kauai is among the most beautiful places on the planet, and witnessing a Kauai sunset from one of the many gorgeous spots on the island can be the cherry on top!

Of course you can witness colorful Kauai sunsets as you sip mai tais at the Welina Terrace on Kauai’s north shore or from the Beach House Restaurant on Kauai’s south shore. And we’ve done precisely that, many times!

But if you want great spots in nature from which to catch sunset on Kauai, read on!

Beach sunset in Kauai, Hawaii
A beach is the perfect place to catch sunset in Kauai!

On a nice weather day, strolling a Kauai beach at sunset is one of the most romantic things you can do on the island.

Our own favorite Kauai sunset spots are Tunnels Beach on the north shore (if we can find parking!) or Poipu Beach on the south shore, where we like to watch green sea turtles that come in to rest on the sand.

But you’ll find wonderful Kauai sunset spots on every side of the island, so no matter where your Kauai itinerary has you on a given evening, you’ll likely find a good sunset-viewing location not too far away.

In this article, we’ve rounded up the very best places to watch sunset on Kauai, with tips for a great experience.

Visiting Kauai? The only way to get a real feel for the rugged beauty of this incredible island is through a helicopter tour!

Sunset at Poipu Beach in Kauai, Hawaii
Sunset at Poipu Beach on the south shore of Kauai

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Best Places for Sunset in Kauai

1. Ke’e Beach (North Shore)

Ke’e Beach is one of prettiest north shore beaches in Kauai any time of day, but it is especially picturesque at sunset.

Located in Ha’ena State Park on the northwestern tip of the island, crescent-shaped Ke’e Beach offers spectacular views of the Na Pali cliffs. Walk away from the direction of the cliffs and then look back for the best views.

At sunset, you may see the brilliant colors in the sky reflected in the tide pools on the beach, making for a beautiful photo op.

Kee Beach is one of the best places from which to enjoy sunset in Kauai, Hawaii
Colorful sunset skies at Ke’e Beach on Kauai’s north shore
Kee Beach at Sunset, Kauai HI
Ke’e Beach is a superb spot for sunset in Kauai

Lifeguarded Ke’e Beach is one of the best swimming beaches in Kauai in the summer when the waters are calm. It is also a great snorkeling spot on Kauai.

You do need a reservation to visit Ke’e Beach (and Ha’ena State Park) so secure your spot as soon as your date opens up.

Read our detailed guide to Ke’e Beach and get the full scoop on visiting Ha’ena State Park.

2. On a Na Pali Coast Sunset Cruise (West Side)

Admiring the breathtaking beauty of the Na Pali Coast is a Kauai bucket list item for many visitors to the island.

The jagged cliffs appear to rise dramatically into the sky right out of the ocean, creating the perfect picture postcard.

One of the best ways to visit the Na Pali Coast is on a boat tour. If you pick a nice weather day, an afternoon boat cruise offers the best light for photographing the cliffs.

And if conditions permit, your captain may even steer the boat close to the cliffs to allow you to see a waterfall tumble into the ocean.

Plus, you may see dolphins frolicking in the ocean behind the boat, as we did on our recent cruise.

A Na Pali sunset boat cruise from Port Allen ends with sunset over the ocean, just as you’re getting back to the harbor.

Sunset over the Pacific Ocean on the west side of Kauai, Hawaii
Sunset from the Na Pali Coast sunset dinner boat cruise
Kauai sunset over the Pacific Ocean from a boat cruise
We had really brilliant sunset skies on our last Na Pali Coast boat cruise!

It’s a fabulous end to one of the must-do excursions on Kauai and you will get great photos: the photo at the top of this article was taken on our last Na Pali Coast sunset cruise.

Note that the ocean does tend to be choppier in the afternoons than early in the day, so if you usually take medication for motion sickness, you’ll want to take it before the cruise.

>> Check price and availability for the Na Pali Coast sunset dinner cruise now!

3. Hanalei Bay (North Shore)

Hanalei Bay has a stretch of golden sand that’s two miles long. It’s one of the most picturesque bays on the island and perfect for both sunrise and sunset.

There are three beach parks along this large bay: Black Pot Beach Park, Hanalei Pavilion Beach Park, and Waioli Beach Park, also called Pine trees.

If you’re an avid photographer, you’ll want to include the Hanalei Pier in your photo.

Sunset at Hanalei Bay in Kauai, Hawaii
Hanalei Bay is one of the best places to go for a magnificent Kauai sunset!
The Hanalei Pier is a great spot for a Kauai sunset!
The Hanalei Pier at sunset

Black Pot Beach Park offers a fabulous view of the pier and a decent-sized parking lot just behind the beach.

With the mountains curving around the bay at the back of the endless stretch of sand, and the ocean in front, sunset at Hanalei Bay is a scene that feels like it belongs in the movies!

Hanalei Pavilion Beach Park and Waioli Beach Park also have parking and make for great parts of the bay for a sunset stroll on the sand.

4. Tunnels Beach (North Shore): Classic Kauai Sunset!

Arguably the most beautiful beach on Kauai, Tunnels Beach has it all: a picturesque backdrop in the form of Mount Makana, turquoise waters, and a long stretch of golden sand.

Add in colorful skies at sunset, and you have the perfect Kauai vacation photo.

Sunset is our favorite time to stroll Tunnels Beach. It’s usually less crowded, and the light is incredibly beautiful.

Dramatic colorful sunset at Tunnels Beach, Kauai, over Bali Hai
A colorful sunset at Tunnels Beach
Calm waters on Tunnels Beach during late spring and summer, ideal for snorkeling
The light at Tunnels Beach during golden hour is gorgeous!

Tunnels Beach is one of the top snorkeling locations in Kauai, so you may want to arrive in the afternoon to snorkel and stay on to see the sunset before you leave. But note that there are no amenities on the beach here.

Finding a parking spot at Tunnels Beach is usually quite difficult. The only parking is by the side of the street, and spots are very limited.

If walking on the sand isn’t an issue, you can park in the lot at adjoining Ha’ena Beach Park (where you will also find restrooms) and walk over, about one-half of a mile, to get to Tunnels Beach.

Get all the details on visiting Tunnels Beach!

5. Polihale Beach (West Side)

A very long stretch of golden sand, Polihale Beach faces west, making it one of the prime sunset-viewing locations in Kauai if you like seeing the sun go down into the water.

Part of Polihale State Park, Polihale Beach is backed by lovely sand dunes and vegetation, and at the northern end, you can see the start of the Na Pali Coast cliffs.

Kauai sunset at Polihale Beach in Hawaii
Polihale Beach sunset in Kauai
Sunset at Polihale Beach on Kauai in Hawaii
The sun sets over the Pacific Ocean at Polihale Beach in Kauai

You’ll find Polihale Beach blissfully uncrowded at sunset, partly because it’s a long beach with room to find a secluded bit for yourself, and partly because the drive here is not easy.

One of the more remote state parks in Kauai, Polihale State Park is located about mid-way on the island’s west side. The last five-mile stretch of road to get here is unpaved, and it is very rough.

A 4WD is highly recommended, and many rental car agreements prohibit driving on this stretch of road.

But if you do get here, you will be rewarded with expansive ocean views and the golden orb of the sun setting into the Pacific Ocean at the end of the day.

If you plan to visit, be sure to read our complete guide to Polihale State Park.

6. Poipu Beach Park (South Shore)

Its relative ease of access and beautiful tropical setting make Poipu Beach Park on the island’s south shore the most popular place for a Kauai sunset.

This also means that Poipu Beach can be crowded at sunset, so arrive a little early to find parking and stake out a spot.

Sunset at a rocky beach in Poipu, Kauai
Sunset at Poipu Beach on Kauai

One of the fun aspects of visiting Poipu Beach at sunset is that Hawaiian green sea turtles usually arrive at the beach at dusk to rest. And you may see the occasional Hawaiian monk seal as well.

If you do come across these endangered creatures, please maintain at least the minimum recommended distance to avoid disturbing them, and follow instructions given by volunteers at the scene.

You should stay 10 feet away from turtles and 50 feet from monk seals at a minimum. Bring a zoom lens if you want to take close-up photos.

Green sea turtle at Poipu Beach in Kauai at sunset
A green sea turtle at Poipu Beach at sunset

Watching sunset at Poipu Beach is one of our most favorite Kauai experiences, despite the fact that it can be crowded sometimes. The beach is just that beautiful, and you can walk a little to find a more secluded spot.

7. Salt Pond Beach Park (South Shore)

On Kauai’s south shore and want a more secluded beach spot from which to catch a colorful Kauai sunset? Head to Salt Pond Beach Park!

Among the less crowded Kauai south shore beaches, Salt Pond Beach is located in the southwest part of the island.

Sunset at Salt Pond Beach in Kauai, Hawaii
Sunset at Salt Pond Beach

A protective reef makes the beach here great for swimming and snorkeling if you want to spend the afternoon here and stay back to watch the sunset. There are showers and restrooms.

In the winter, you may see humpback whales in the ocean.

If you drive out for sunset on a Friday evening, combine a visit to Salt Pond Beach with the Friday night art walk in the quaint town of Hanapepe.

If you want to learn more, we have an article on Salt Pond Beach!

8. Shipwreck Beach (South Shore)

Rounding out the trio of south shore beaches in Kauai for sunset is Shipwreck Beach, famous for the picturesque cliff jutting out into the water.

Shipwreck Beach is a wilder landscape than Poipu Beach or Salt Pond Beach and a popular spot for sunset (or sunrise) photography.

Sunset at Shipwreck Beach, one of the best south shore beaches in Kauai, Hawaii
A colorful sunset at Shipwreck Beach in Kauai

While you can watch sunset at the beach, Shipwreck Beach is also the western start point of the Mahaulepu Heritage Trail if you fancy watching the sunset as you walk along the cliffs.

The trail takes you along the only undeveloped part of the south Kauai coastline, and the views of the cliffs and the coastline are spectacular. You can walk as far as you like and then turn back.

Sunset adds an extra element of magic, with the sky turning to shades of orange and pink.

9. Kalalau Beach (Hike-In from the North Shore)

Kalalau Beach is part of Kauai’s legendary Na Pali Coast. Hiking, or kayaking in the summer, are the only two ways you can arrive at this beach!

The end point of the epic Kalalau hiking trail on Kauai, Kalalau Beach has as its backdrop the tall fluted Na Pali cliffs. From here, you can watch the sun set over the ocean.

Enjoy a secluded sunset at Kalalau Beach in Kauai, Hawaii
Enjoy a secluded sunset at remote Kalalau Beach in Kauai!

Hiking the Kalalau Trail to Kalalau Beach requires an overnight camping permit and is only for the fittest, most experienced hikers.

Sea kayaking to the Kalalau Beach is also super challenging, again only for the fittest, most experienced sea kayakers.

If you are one of the adventurers that make it to this very secluded beach in Kauai, and the weather gods cooperate, you will enjoy a Kauai sunset that will remain with you all your life!

10. Spouting Horn (South Shore)

What is a more spectacular sight than a Hawaii blowhole in action? A Hawaii blowhole in action at sunset!

The Spouting Horn, a blowhole along Kauai’s south shore not too far from Poipu, is dramatic when it spouts, spraying water as much as 50 feet into the air.

You are lucky if you catch it in action any time of the day, but against the backdrop of colorful skies at sunset, the spray looks even more dramatic.

Spouting Horn Blowhole in Kauai, Hawaii
Spouting Horn in Kauai at sunset

Visit during periods of heavy ocean swells for the best chance of seeing the spray blow high into the air.

There is a lookout area at Spouting Horn Park from where you can catch the blowhole in action. Even if it isn’t shooting spray high into the air, the view at sunset can be magical, so if you are nearby, or driving by, be sure to stop!

11. Waimea Canyon (West Side)

Waimea Canyon State Park, and adjoining Koke’e State Park, have several drive-up lookouts that make for great sunset viewing locations.

One of our favorite lookouts here is the Pu’u’ O’Kila Lookout over the Kalalau Valley.

Located in Koke’e State Park, it offers epic sunset photo ops on clear days. Golden hour is also wonderful, with the sun’s rays lighting up the green Na Pali ridges.

Kalalau Valley Koke'e State Park Kauai, HI
The late afternoon sun on the cliffs above the Kalalau Valley

You have to be very lucky, though, to have a clear day at the viewpoints in Koke’e State Park. On most of our visits, we have had to dodge rain showers and clouds.

We suggest visiting Koke’e State Park in the morning for the best shot at clear skies, but if you happen to be there on a clear evening, good for you!

The lookouts in Waimea Canyon State Park offer views into the canyon, and when skies are colorful at sunset, the views can be spectacular.

Sunset at Waimea Canyon in Kauai, Hawaii
Sunset at Waimea Canyon in Kauai

Read our guide to visiting Waimea Canyon State Park and our article on visiting Koke’e State Park for details on planning your visits to these parks.

12. Ke Ala Hele Makalae Hike/Bike Path in Kapa’a (East Side)

The east side of the island is more famous for its spectacular sunrises, but you can catch colorful sunsets here as well.

One of the best things to do on the east side of Kauai is walking the Ke Ala Hele Makalae, the Path that Goes by the Coast.

Palm trees line the coast in Kapa'a Kauai HI
Colorful skies in Kapa’a at sunset

This is a long hiking and biking path that runs by the ocean, lined in some places with the coconut palms that give the coast its name: Royal Coconut Coast.

Even though the sun does not set over the water, on evenings when the sunset results in brilliant colorful skies, the views are enchanting.

Bonus: Sunset at the Welina Terrace at 1 Hotel Hanalei Bay

And if you love to watch sunset while sipping a cocktail, you can’t do better than the Welina Terrace at 1 Hotel Hanalei Bay on Kauai’s north shore.

The lounge offers views of Mount Makana and Hanalei Bay, and hosts a nightly sunset ritual that includes the lighting of torches and traditional Hawaiian music.

The cocktails are excellent, but you can also enjoy wine, beer, and other drinks.

Sunset at Welina Terrace in Kauai, Hawaii
Sunset ritual at the Welina Terrace in Kauai
A colorful sunset at the Welina Terrace in Kauai, Hawaii
A colorful sunset at the Welina Terrace in Kauai

On the south shore of Kauai, we’ve enjoyed sunset at the Beach House Restaurant, which is right on the water. Golden hour here is also magical.

Map of Best Kauai Sunset Spots

The Best Kauai Tours

Have you booked these top Kauai guided adventures yet?

Sunset catamaran tour of the Na Pali Coast (relatively more stable ride, insane views on good weather days!)

Doors-off helicopter tour of Kauai (unobstructed views, chance to see more of the island than you can by land, no middle seats!)

Kayak on the Wailua River plus hike to a waterfall (a super fun activity for active travelers, albeit a little muddy sometimes!)

Raft trip to the Na Pali Coast plus snorkeling (prepare to get wet on this exhilarating adventure!)

Eurocopter ECO-Star helicopter tour over Kauai (the most booked Kauai helicopter tour on Viator with close to 2K reviews and a 5-star rating!)

Entire Kauai Island Air Tour (super popular, less expensive than a heli tour, large bubble windows for flightseeing!)

Renting a Car in Kauai

The best things to do in Kauai are scattered all over the island.

Public transport options on Kauai aren’t great, so if you want to explore the island beyond your base, you’ll want to book a rental car for your Kauai trip.

We always use Discover Cars to book Kauai car rentals. They search across a variety of rental car companies, both budget and brand, to offer you the best deals, AND they offer free cancellations. Plus, there are no hidden fees.

>> Check availability and prices on Kauai car rentals now!

Lihue Airport-Hotel Shuttle

Not planning to pick up a rental car at Lihue airport? Pre-arrange round trip transfer from the airport to your hotel and back!

This shared shuttle serves hotels or vacation rentals in Princeville, Kahala, Poipu, Kapaa, or Lihue, and then back again. It’s convenient and inexpensive, and saves time and hassle!

>> Check prices and availability for shared round-trip airport transfer in Kauai now!

Where to Stay in Kauai

Depending on whether you want a vacation rental with more room and the option to cook some of your meals, or you want a resort or hotel experience, and depending on which part of Kauai you want to choose as your base, you have a variety of options.

Since you’ll likely want to base in a couple places on your trip to Kauai, we suggest starting your search for Kauai accommodations by browsing vacation rentals on VRBO.

We have stayed in VRBO rentals in both Poipu and Princeville and find that the choice and quality are generally great.

>> Look for a Kauai vacation rental on VRBO now!

Want detailed recommendations for accommodations in Kauai? Check out our comprehensive guide to the best places to stay in Kauai!

Fiery sunset sky at Poipu Beach in Kauai, Hawaii
Fiery skies at sunset at Poipu Beach

More Kauai Travel Inspiration

Considering a trip to the Garden Isle in Hawaii? You’ll definitely want to check out some of our other comprehensive Kauai travel and attraction guides!

If you are a first-time visitor to Kauai, start by discovering the best things to do in Kauai! From beaches and botanical gardens to cliffs, canyons, and waterfalls, Kauai has it all, and our round-up lists all of Kauai’s must-experience activities and attractions.

Planning to split a week between Kauai and another island? We have a 3 days in Kauai itinerary article you must read to help flesh out what you would like to see and do!

Learn about the best things to do in Hanalei and Kauai’s scenic north shore, the best things to do in Poipu and Kauai’s south shore, and the most exciting things to do on Kauai’s Coconut Side or east side.

Read our in-depth guide to visiting the Na Pali Coast of Kauai. We give you the full scoop on the best ways to visit this stunning coast in the remote northwest of the island.

Discover our round-up of the nine spectacular state parks in Kauai, which house some of Kauai’s most treasured natural wonders.

We also have visitor’s guides to popular parks like Waimea Canyon State Park, which protects the namesake canyon, nearby Kokee State Park, and the remote but beautiful Polihale State Park.

Also check out the ultimate guide to visiting Haena State Park on Kauai’s north shore, and a full guide to hiking the epic Kalalau Trail.

Check out our round-up of the most beautiful waterfalls in Kauai, from waterfalls you can view from the road to falls that require hiking and falls that are best seen from a helicopter or sightseeing flight. We also have an article on everything you need to know to visit Secret Falls Kauai on an exciting kayaking and hiking tour.

Read our guide to Wailua River State Park to discover two easy-to-access Kauai waterfalls, and our trail guide for the easy hike to Ho’opi’i Falls. We also have an article on the best Kauai waterfall hikes.

And if a helicopter tour is part of your plans for Kauai, read our article on the top-rated helicopter tours in Kauai!

Hiking enthusiasts will want to read our article on the best hikes in Koke’e State Park: the trails here are some of the best hikes in Kauai!

We have detailed trail guides for the most popular Koke’e hikes, from the scenic Canyon Trail to the top of Waipo’o Falls, to the epic Awa’awapuhi Trail, challenging but very rewarding!

Also discover the best hikes in Waimea Canyon State Park, and the best hikes on Kauai’s north shore.

We also have a trail guide for the Mahaulepu Heritage Trail on Kauai’s scenic south shore, an article on how to hike the Sleeping Giant Trail, and a guide to the Kuilau Ridge Trail, one of the easy hikes on Kauai.

Get the scoop on the best botanical gardens in Kauai, from Limahuli Garden on the north shore to McBryde and Allerton Gardens on the south shore. The botanical gardens are great spots to look for the birds of Kauai, as is Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge.

Read our guide to the best swimming beaches on Kauai, from Hanalei Bay on the north shore to Poipu Beach on the south shore!

We also have a guide to the best snorkeling beaches on Kauai, a round-up of the best Kauai north shore beaches, and an article on the best Kauai south shore beaches!

And if you love watching the sun go down in a burst of color, be sure to read our article on where to go for the best sunsets on Kauai!

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Discover the best places to watch sunset in Kauai, Hawaii, from Tunnels Beach on the north shore to Poipu Beach on the south shore!

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