Beautiful Lumahai Beach, Kauai

Lumahai Beach, Kauai: The Best 2024 Visitor Guide

Lumahai Beach, Kauai!

One of the prettiest beaches on the North Shore of Kauai, so beautiful that it was the setting for one of the famous scenes of the Hollywood movie South Pacific, the movie that put Kauai on the tourist map!

With a rainforest cliff setting as a backdrop, with two lava rock outcroppings as encircling arms, and fringing forests to the ocean waters, this stunning beach is the epitome of Hawaiian tropical paradise!

Wide golden sands, lush green vegetation and clear blue waters, Lumahai Beach is everything we dreamed of for our Kauai vacation!

Stunning natural beauty at Lumahai Beach, Kauai
Stunning natural beauty at Lumahai Beach, Kauai

But looks can be deceptive, steer away from the ocean waters. With no underwater reefs to break the waves, Lumahai Beach is exposed to the full majestic power of the open ocean waters.

Especially in winter, rough large waves come crashing all the way to shore, with a raging undertow and rip currents sucking everything back to the ocean.

Swimming, snorkeling, cliff jumping, boogie boarding and other water activities should definitely not be on a visitor’s radar, whatever you see the locals doing here.

Lumaha’i Beach is nicknamed Luma-die Beach and Lumahai and Die Beach for good reason, unwary visitors have been swept away by rogue waves, especially while thinking they were safe on rocky mini-cliffs near the shore.

Stay safely on the beautiful sands of Lumahai Beach and admire the amazing natural beauty all around!

Lumahai Beach on the North Shore of Kauai is one of the prettiest beaches on Kauai I’ve visited!

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

Beautiful views of Lumahai Beach from the overlook near Kuhio Highway
Beautiful views of Lumahai Beach from the overlook near Kuhio Highway

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Lumahai Beach Directions

Scattered along the north shore of Kauai, you’ll find many pretty beaches, and Lumahai Beach, a few miles west of Hanalei, on Kuhio Highway (Highway 560), is exactly that!

Conveniently on the way to tourist destinations like Haena State Park or Haena Beach Park or Tunnels Beach, Lumahai Beach is so beautiful, it is definitely worth a stop.

Start looking for parking along Kuhio Highway as you approach the 5 mile marker.

Lumahai Beach Parking

You have two options for Lumahai Beach parking.

First, you can stop at the eastern end of the beach, called Kahalahala Beach, near the pullouts around mile marker 5.

Or the better parking option is on western edge of the beach where the Lumahai River enters the ocean. Plenty of parking is available here in a deeper pullout from the highway.

Lumahai Beach Map

The Lumahai Beach map below shows the location of Lumahai Beach, and the main attractions nearby.

Lumahai Beach Access

From parking along Kuhio Highway or designated pullouts, access to Lumahai Beach is via short trails.

If you parked closer to the lookout section on the eastern end of the beach, there is a short trail through the forest and down the hillside. The trail can be slippery after rains, so watch your step.

From the western end of the beach also, there is a short trail, but with a less inclined slope, leading to the mouth of Lumahai River.

Lumahai River entering the ocean waters at Lumahai Beach, Kauai
Lumahai River entering the ocean waters at Lumahai Beach, Kauai

Both trails wind through a beautiful forest with palm trees, ironwood trees and hala trees (easily recognizable with their characteristic aerial tufted roots).

Frankly, doesn’t really matter which trail you take, as you can stroll along the beach to either end.

Lumahai Beach Reservations

No reservations or permits are needed for Lumahai Beach. There are no entrance fees either.

Lumahai Beach Amenities / Facilities

Location: Hanalei, North Shore of Kauai
Lifeguard: No
Beach Amenities: None
Food Nearby: Hanalei or Wainiha
Parking: Free roadside parking along Kuhio Highway (Highway 560)
Directions: Two miles west of Hanalei on Kuhio Highway, mile marker 5

Lumahai Beach is pristine and undeveloped, absolutely no facilities or amenities here.

If you’re looking for a nearby beach with lifeguards, restrooms and outdoor showers, head to Haena Beach Park.

Best Things to Do at Lumahai Beach

First and foremost, know that Lumahai Beach is best enjoyed from the safety of the sandy shores!

Any water activity here, especially for visitors not familiar with the risks of ocean waters, is extremely dangerous, and several unsuspecting visitors have drowned.

Powerful and dangerous waves at Lumahai Beach, Kauai
Powerful and dangerous waves at Lumahai Beach, Kauai

If you’re looking to snorkel in summer, Tunnels Beach a few miles further west on Kuhio Highway is an excellent choice, one of the best Kauai snorkeling spots!

Haena Beach Park, also close by, is one of the best swimming beaches on Kauai (summers only!), with lifeguards, restrooms and outdoor showers.

1. Soak in the Natural Beauty at Lumahai Beach

Green sand beaches are relatively rare, with four beaches in the world typically considered predominantly green in color! The best known of these in Hawaii is the famous Papakolea Green Sand Beach on Big Island.

Oddly enough, Lumahai Beach does have a greenish hue on occasion, resulting from green-colored olivine mineral found in the sands here, and you’ll see tinge more easily from the lookout above!

Pretty Lumahai Beach, a secluded beach on the North Shore of Kauai, sometimes green in color
Pretty Lumahai Beach, a secluded beach on the North Shore of Kauai, sometimes green in color

As a result of the olivine particles here, note that the beach sand can get hotter than normal beaches, and appropriate water sandals are highly recommended.

Green color apart, there is a lot of natural beauty at Lumahai Beach to admire!

On the western end, the Lumahai River empties itself into the Pacific Ocean, and the rainforest jungle along the river banks is picturesque! Stay away from the waters at the mouth of the river, since rip currents here are common.

The wide golden sands, stunning blue ocean waters, and rich green vegetation make Lumahai Beach one of Kauai’s primary picture postcard locations, and you’ll find this plastered all over T-shirts, magazines and other Kauai promotional material!

2. Sunbathe or Relax with a Book on the Lumahai Beach

Though small in length, Lumahai Beach is quite wide, with beautiful, finely powdered golden sands.

Finding a nice private area for some sunbathing or relaxing with a good book is relatively easy, but make sure you stay a safe distance from the water, especially in winter, when the waves make deep inroads!

Sunbathers lounging on the beautiful Lumahai Beach, Kauai
Sunbathers lounging on the beautiful Lumahai Beach, Kauai

Definitely stay off the steeply inclined part of the beach at the edge of the waters.

3. View Spectacular Sunsets from the Lumahai Beach

As with many of Kauai’s north shore beaches, sunsets at Lumahai Beach are spectacular, with the skies lighting up in a multitude of warm colors.

Spectacular sunset colors reflected on the ocean waters at Lumahai Beach, Kauai
Spectacular sunset colors reflected on the ocean waters at Lumahai Beach, Kauai

Nature photographers will love to stay back and capture the stunning sunset reflections here!

And if you enjoy sunsets, read more about the best sunset spots on Kauai!

4. Admire Turtles and Monk Seals on Lumahai Beach

As with other Kauai beaches, you’ll see the occasional Hawaiian green sea turtle or monk seal on the shores of Lumahai Beach, typically in summer, since the winter waters are just too rough here.

Hawaiian green sea turtle creeping up the beach for some rest
Hawaiian green sea turtle creeping up the beach for some rest

Admire these iconic Hawaiian marine life from a distance, both are protected species and NOAA recommends at least 10 feet.

Snorkeling and Water Activities Gear Checklist

Though you can rent snorkeling gear or use the ones that come with tours, we invested in our own gear, mainly due to Covid-19 (why take the risk?).

Ocean Safety Tips

Hawaii’s beaches are beautiful, but ocean activities can be dangerous. Ocean conditions are dynamic and can change without warning.

Here are some tips to enjoy the ocean and beaches safely:

  • ALWAYS heed posted warning signs.
  • Check conditions just before you arrive at your chosen beach, and watch conditions at the beach for a bit before you decide to enter the water.
  • Swim at a lifeguarded beach and ask the lifeguard for advice before you enter the water.
  • Never turn your back on the ocean, whether you are standing at the shore or on a cliff above. If you see wet rocks or sand, it means the water has been here recently.
  • Know your limitations, especially if you are not an experienced swimmer. If in doubt, do not go out.
  • If you choose to enter the water, go with a partner or in a group.
  • Know that alcohol can impair judgment and motor skills in the water.
  • Keep children close and always keep your eyes on what they are doing in the water.
  • Watch for sharp coral or rocks or sea urchins.
  • Check advisories regarding water quality at various beaches here.

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!

Beautiful golden sands and clear blue waters at Lumahai Beach, Kauai
Beautiful golden sands and clear blue waters at Lumahai Beach, Kauai

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.

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!

Did you find this article informative? Pin it on Pinterest for later!

Discover the complete guide to visiting Lumahai Beach in Kauai Hawaii. Located on the north shore, Lumahai Beach offers splendid views for photography. It is not however a safe swimming beach.

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