Lydgate Beach Park

Lydgate Beach Park, Kauai, HI: Snorkeling & Other Things To Do

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Locked out of swimming in Kauai’s golden beaches due to high surf warnings during your winter vacation? Despair not!

We were in the same boat on our last vacation, and at our wits’ end on how to entertain small kids, till we discovered Lydgate Beach Park.

Lydgate Beach Park is an excellent option for snorkeling and swimming during winter swells, and the best beach option for families with kids.

One of the few beaches with year-round access, Lydgate Beach Park has two protected lagoons sheltered by lava rock walls, making them safe for smaller kids even in winter and during high surf elsewhere.

Lydgate Beach Park, one of the most popular Kauai beaches on the East Side, with year-round access
Lydgate Beach Park, one of the most popular Kauai beaches on the East Side, with year-round access

The lagoons are man-made and built to provide a sheltered area for children and beginning swimmers and snorkelers.

The other star attraction at Lydgate Beach Park, again for the kids, is the 30,000 square foot epic Kamalani Playground, one of the largest in Hawaii, providing hours of fun!

But Lydgate Beach Park is not just for kids. Renowned for its golden beaches and turquoise waters, the picturesque Lydgate Beach was the setting for scenes from the Hollywood movie Blue Hawaii, starring Elvis Presley.

Come, join us on our virtual tour of Lydgate Beach Park, and we hope, like us, you will have a peaceful refuge here when vacationing with smaller kids!

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

Dramatic sunrise at Lydgate Beach Park, Kauai
Dramatic sunrise at Lydgate Beach Park, Kauai

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Lydgate Beach Park Directions

Lydgate Beach Park is on the east side of Kauai in Wailua, just north of Kapa’a, and about 30-45 minutes from Lihue airport.

We took the Kuhio Highway (Route 56) to Leho Drive and then to Nalu Road.

Lydgate Beach Park is right next to the mouth of the sacred Wailua River, where it empties into the Pacific Ocean.

We spent a day exploring the Wailua River State Park and then ended at Lydgate Beach Park to relax on the beach for the evening.

Driftwood on Lydgate Beach Park's golden sands
Driftwood on Lydgate Beach Park’s golden sands

Lydgate Beach Park Parking

What I love about Lydgate Beach Park is the ample parking that is available, and you’ll find spots all along Nalu Road.

We’ve visited multiple times, and even during the busiest times, spots usually open up in 10-15 minutes.

Lydgate Beach Park, one of the best Kauai snorkeling beaches year round, with shallow protected pools
Lydgate Beach Park, one of the best Kauai snorkeling beaches year round, with shallow protected pools

Lydgate Beach Park Map

The below map shows the layout of Lydgate Beach Park, how to reach the park, and all the main attractions at the park.

Lydgate Beach Access

Lydgate Beach can be accessed directly from the parking spots on Nalu Road. You may have to walk a bit to reach the lagoon areas or the pavilions or picnic tables.

Lydgate Beach Park Amenities / Facilities

Location: Leho Drive, Lihue, HI 96766
Lifeguard: Yes
Beach Amenities: Restrooms, showers, picnic tables, pavilions, grassy areas, volleyball courts, playground, disc golf course, camping
Food Nearby: Tiki bar, Hilton Garden Inn
Parking: Parking lots along Nalu Road off Leho Drive
Directions: Kuhio Highway (Route 56) to Leho Drive and then to Nalu Road

Lifeguard station at Lydgate Beach Park, one of the best family-friendly Kauai beaches
Lifeguard station at Lydgate Beach Park, one of the best family-friendly Kauai beaches

>> Book these 5 star rated, highly popular, Kauai Tours now!

Best Things to Do at Lydgate Beach Park, Kauai, Hawaii

Lydgate Beach Park, named after Reverend Lydgate, one of Kauai’s prominent missionaries in the 1800s who established churches and schools in the neighborhood, is one of the best locations on Kauai for a family outing, especially if you have smaller kids.

When we vacationed in Kauai with younger kids, Lydgate Beach Park was one of our favorite Kauai beaches, because apart from the beach, the kids had many other things to do.

Lydgate Beach Park snorkeling in clear calm waters, early morning
Lydgate Beach Park snorkeling in clear calm waters, early morning

1. Take the Kids to the Kalamani Playground

The Kalamani playground in Lydgate Beach Park is huge, and filled with swings, slides, playhouses, mazes, and jungle gyms.

Covering about 30,000 square feet, the Kalamani playground is one of the biggest in Hawaii!

We couldn’t tear our kids away, they had so much fun here!

There is smaller kids playground called Kamalani Kai Bridge Playground next to the campsites, which is usually much less crowded, but also quite far from the lagoons.

2. Lydgate Beach Park Swimming

Built in 1964 by Albert Morgan and Kauai County, the two swimming lagoons became the center of attraction at the 62-acre Lydgate Beach Park, providing the community and the kids a safe, protected area for water activities.

The smaller keiki (children’s) pond was primarily for younger kids, and the much larger lagoon was meant for everyone else, including beginning swimmers and snorkelers.

Keiki pool or kids pool on the Lydgate Beach Park, one of the best Kauai snorkeling beaches for kids and beginners
Keiki pool or kids pool on the Lydgate Beach Park, one of the best Kauai snorkeling beaches for kids and beginners

Lydgate Beach Park is one of the best Kauai swimming beaches year-round! Due to the artificial reef breakwaters, the waters in the two lagoons are calm.

During winter, the North Shore Kauai beaches are far too dangerous to venture into, and the beaches in the South Shore fare not much better. Lydgate Beach Park is often the only Kauai beach you can swim in during winter, due to the protected lagoons.

With lifeguards on duty, Lydgate Beach Park is a great destination for vacationing families with kids, and smaller kids can safely swim in the keiki pond.

Lifeguard tower in Lydgate Beach Park, Kauai
Lifeguard tower in Lydgate Beach Park, Kauai

Unlike most Kauai beaches, you won’t have to worry about high surf, rip tide and strong currents. But make sure you stay within the lagoons, especially if you are a beginning swimmer or with kids.

>> Book these 5 star rated, highly popular, Kauai Tours now!

3. Lydgate Beach Park Snorkeling

Make sure you bring snorkeling gear with you, Lydgate Beach Park is one of the best Kauai snorkeling beaches for beginners and kids!

While the man-made lava rock walls keep the large waves and currents out, providing sheltered lagoons, they don’t keep the tropical fish out.

Lydgate Beach Park, one of the best beaches in Kauai, where you can swim and snorkel year-round
Lydgate Beach Park, one of the best beaches in Kauai, where you can swim and snorkel year-round

I joined my kids snorkeling in the water, not expecting to see much, due to the barriers.

Boy, was I wrong! I was amazed at the abundance of colorful tropical fish, especially some of the larger fish that seem to have found large crevices in the rock walls to get through.

Make your way to the lava rock wall on the far side of the beach, you’ll find the best snorkeling there.

While yellow tangs, convict tangs, and goatfish are beautiful but common Hawaiian tropical fishes you’ll see snorkeling here, we saw some striking and unusual blue tangs and even small barracuda.

Check our detailed Hawaiian fish snorkeling guide to learn more and to be able to identify some of the fish you’ll likely see here.

4. Sunbathe on or Stroll Along Lydgate Beach

While the lagoons tends to get crowded, the Lydgate Beach area along the coast is lengthy.

Finding the perfect, quiet spot for some sunbathing or relaxing with a book on these golden sands is not difficult.

Lydgate Beach extends south from Lydgate Beach Park for some distance
Lydgate Beach extends south from Lydgate Beach Park for some distance

The roughly 2.5 mile paved path around Lydgate Beach Park is excellent for an evening stroll or bike ride.

5. Admire the Colorful Sunrise at Lydgate Beach Park

One of my favorite things to do while in Kauai was to hit the Lydgate Beach Park early morning for a jog, and to admire the amazing sunrise over the ocean!

Sunrise at Lydgate State Park, one of the best Kauai beaches all year long
Sunrise at Lydgate State Park, one of the best Kauai beaches all year long

The beaches tended to be deserted, apart from the occasional jogger, and were a perfect place for some relaxing meditation and communing with nature!

And don’t forget your camera, some of our best Lydgate Beach Park photos were of the sunrise here!

>> Book these 5-star rated, highly popular, Kauai tours now!

6. Stroll Down to Hauola City of Refuge

No visit to Lydgate Beach park would be complete without a stroll down to the easternmost point of the park: Hauola City of Refuge!

You probably know that ancient Hawaiians considered the Wailua River sacred, and there are many archeological sites and heiaus (temples), including Hikinaakalu Heiau, marked on the Lydgate Beach Park map above.

The Hikinaakalu Heiau was built by the ancient Hawaiians to revere the sun and used to monitor sunrise to time their various ceremonies.

The Hauola City of Refuge is right next to the Hikinaakala Heiau, and is a pu’uhonua or a place of refuge or sanctuary.

Ancient Hawaiians who broke a kapu or taboo would seek sanctuary in such places, and would be protected and safe, even in times of war.

As amateur history buffs, we loved the interpretive signs that explained the different artifacts, and described hidden petroglyphs on rocks that were partially concealed by the tide and sands.

7. Admire Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles and Endangered Monk Seals

Our our last visit to Lydgate Beach Park, we strolled along the sandy beaches away from the two lagoons, and hit the jackpot!

Three Hawaiian green sea turtles sunbathing and napping on the beach!

Hawaiian green sea turtle or honu on the beach
Hawaiian green sea turtle or honu on the beach

Apparently these sightings are more common now, and a local couple mentioned to us they even spotted monk seals lazing on the beach.

Admire them from a distance, and give them a wide berth!

8. Surf, Windsurf & Boogie Board on Lydgate Beach

Lydgate Beach is well known for its surfing, and many experienced surfers enjoy riding the waves outside the lagoons.

You’ll see windsurfers, mostly on the days when the kona winds (distinct from the trade winds) blow from the southwest.

Boogie boarding is popular among the teens and younger kids, especially during the summer, when the waves are more manageable.

Kids' boogie boards on the golden sandy beaches
Kids’ boogie boards on the golden sandy beaches

Other Activities at Lydgate Beach Park

Just south of the Lydgate Beach Park pools is a tree with a rope swing, we just couldn’t resist playing Tarzan for a bit!

Lydgate Beach Park has a disc golf course, where instead of putting balls into a hole, you try to land frisbees into a basket. We played it as a family, and had great fun!

If fishing is your thing, then make your way towards the mouth of the Wailua River, where you’ll find like-minded anglers hoping to catch an exotic tropical fish!

There is also a fishing site just in front of the Kaha Lani Resort, north of the camp sites.

If that’s not enough, you can also create your own driftwood shelter on the beach!

Creative shelter on Lydgate Beach Park from driftwood on the beach
Creative shelter on Lydgate Beach Park from driftwood on the beach

Lydgate Beach Park Camping

Lydgate Beach Park is one of the few public camping sites on Kauai, and you need to obtain a camping permit from the Department of Parks & Recreation.

Permits cost $25 a day for non-residents.

If you haven’t camped on a beach before, it is quite an experience!

You have shaded, private areas where you can camp. Bathrooms and showers are nearby.

Sunrise at Lydgate Beach Park, one of the benefits of camping in the park
Sunrise at Lydgate Beach Park, one of the benefits of camping in the park

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?).

Tips for Your Visit to Lydgate Beach Park, Kauai, HI

As with any each beach in Kauai, safety should be your primary concern, especially if you are with smaller kids.

Check weather forecasts and high surf conditions before entering the water.

Check with the lifeguard on duty to make sure the water is safe. Sometimes storms push driftwood into the lagoons, creating a hazard.

Driftwood piles up on the sandy beaches of Lydgate Beach at Lydgate Beach Park, Kauai
Driftwood piles up on the sandy beaches of Lydgate Beach at Lydgate Beach Park, Kauai

Smaller kids should be in the keiki pond, and you should monitor them closely.

Make sure you are aware of the ocean conditions at all times, don’t turn your back to the ocean, especially if you are outside the lagoons. Rogue waves are not uncommon, and can wash away unwary tourists into the ocean.

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.

What Else to Do Near Lydgate Beach Park, Kauai

Wailua River State Park

Wailua River State Park, one of the best state parks in Kauai, is literally a stone’s throw away.

You can easily spend a day here, visiting some of the best Kauai waterfalls like the Wailua Falls and the Opaeka’a Falls, hiking and kayaking, and taking boat cruises.

Beautiful Wailua Falls in Wailua River State Park, Kauai, Hawaii
Beautiful Wailua Falls in Wailua River State Park, Kauai, Hawaii

On our last visit, we spent the morning in Wailua River State Park, and came to the Lydgate Beach Park to spend the afternoon at the beach.

Hiking

Kuilau Ridge Trail, one of the best Kauai hikes, and relatively easy, is a beautiful rainforest jungle hike along a ridge with fantastic views.

Layers of mountains and valleys covered with dense rainforest jungle from the Kuilau Ridge Trail viewpoint
Layers of mountains and valleys covered with dense rainforest jungle from the Kuilau Ridge Trail viewpoint

Ho’opi’i Falls Trail, one of the best easy Kauai hikes, is also a tropical rainforest hike to two waterfalls, one of which was a setting for a famous Jurassic Park scene.

Upper Ho'opi'i Falls from the Ho'opi'i Falls Trail, one of the best easy Kauai hikes to a waterfall
Upper Ho’opi’i Falls from the Ho’opi’i Falls Trail, one of the best easy Kauai hikes to a waterfall

Sleeping Giant Trails East and West are close by, and you can hike up Nounou Mountain (Sleeping Giant) tropical rainforest jungles for some fabulous views of Wailua and the coastline.

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!

Driftwood shelter on Lydgate Beach, Lydgate Beach Park, Kauai, Hawaii
Driftwood shelter on Lydgate Beach, Lydgate Beach Park, Kauai, Hawaii

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!

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

Discover the ultimate guide to Lygate Beach Park on the east side of Kauai, Hawaii.

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