Spectacular Poipu Beach, one of the best Kauai snorkeling beaches for families with kids and beginners

Poipu Beach Park, Koloa, Kauai, HI: Complete 2024 Visitor Guide

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If you have time for only one beach while vacationing in Kauai, make it Poipu Beach, one of the best places to visit in Hawaii!

Located on the sunny southern shores of Kauai, with gorgeous, finely powdered, golden sands and clear, turquoise waters, beautiful Poipu Beach regularly makes the list of the top ten beaches in Hawaii, if not all over the world.

Poipu Beach is the best family friendly beach in Kauai, offering protected swimming, snorkeling and surfing for all skill levels, all year round, along with excellent facilities. You can easily keep a bunch of kids engaged for a full day beach outing!

Poipu Beach consists of two large crescent-shaped bays with wide beaches, separated by a small strip of sand (called tombola) to a small island offshore, a refuge for Hawaiian green sea turtles, monk seals, and seabirds.

Protected swimming, snorkeling and surfing on Poipu Beach, Kauai, Hawaii
Protected swimming, snorkeling and surfing on Poipu Beach, Kauai, Hawaii

Lined with ritzy resorts that offer yummy food and drinks, along with some tasty food trucks, snacking and eating from the beach or nearby is pretty easy.

Poipu Beach was one of our favorite Kauai south shore beaches, and we still look back fondly on our memories of leisurely romantic strolls at sunset and our beginning surfer lessons on the friendly waves!

Come join us on a virtual tour of Poipu Beach Park, and we will help you plan your visit, and make sure you don’t miss this Kauai bucket list item!

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

Golden sands and turquoise waters on beautiful Poipu Beach, Kauai, Hawaii
Golden sands and turquoise waters on beautiful Poipu Beach, Kauai, Hawaii

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Poipu Beach Park Directions

Poipu Beach Park is on the southern shore of Kauai, in the town of Poipu, about 30 minutes drive from Lihue.

Take Poipu Road, one of the main arteries through Poipu, to Hoowili Road. Head south on Hoowili Road towards Poipu Beach Park parking lot, which will be on the right.

Use “poipu beach park koloa hi 96756” for Google maps or GPS.

Poipu Beach Park Parking

Poipu Beach Park has a large, free beach parking lot which usually has spaces during the weekdays and earlier in the day.

Evenings and weekends, the parking lot may get full, but we could usually find street parking on Hoowili Road or Hoone Road (parallel to the beach).

Poipu Beach Park Map

The below map shows the location of Poipu Beach Park and nearby attractions.

Poipu Beach Access

From Poipu Beach Parking lot, cross Hoone Road, and walk down to the beach or park using one of the access paths.

Beautiful sunset on Poipu Beach, Kauai, Hawaii
Beautiful sunset on Poipu Beach, Kauai, Hawaii

Poipu Beach Reservations

Currently, Poipu Beach does not require any reservations or permits.

Poipu Beach Park Amenities / Facilities

Location: South Shore of Kauai, Koloa
Lifeguard: Yes
Beach Amenities: Restrooms, showers, picnic tables, playground, grassy areas
Food Nearby: Food trucks at the entrance
Parking: Poipu Beach Park parking lot
Directions: Poipu Beach Park, Koloa, HI 96756

Lifeguards are on duty seven days a week, 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, making Poipu Beach one of the safest in Hawaii, but make sure you check the surf conditions or talk to the lifeguard before entering the water.

Red lifeguard station on Poipu Beach, one of the best family friendly beaches on Kauai, Hawaii
Red lifeguard station on Poipu Beach, one of the best family friendly beaches on Kauai, Hawaii

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

Best Things to Do at Poipu Beach Park, Kauai, HI

Poipu Beach is actually two beaches separated by a sandbar that extends from the shore to a sand and rock island off the shore.

Poipu Beach: Two crescent-shaped beaches separated by a sandbar and protected by an underwater reef
Poipu Beach: Two crescent-shaped beaches separated by a sandbar and protected by an underwater reef

The two crescent-shaped beaches are large and wide. The left beach has an extended lava rock barrier on one end, creating a shallow, calm pool.

The sandbar, rock island, underwater coral reefs and the crescent-shaped bays result in waves breaking well off shore, leaving relatively calm, shallow waters in the lagoons.

This makes Poipu Beach a great family friendly beach for kids and beginners.

1. Poipu Beach Snorkeling

Poipu Beach is one of the best snorkeling beaches in Kauai, and snorkelers of all abilities can find a location here suitable for their skill level.

Calm placid waters near the shores for beginning snorkelers at Poipu Beach, Kauai
Calm placid waters near the shores for beginning snorkelers at Poipu Beach, Kauai

For younger kids and beginners, the best snorkeling is near the lava rock barrier to the left side, that forms the shallow pool. Though shallow, we’ve seen abundant tropical fish here, and some large ones as well!

If you’re more experienced, you’ll want to head to the rocky island in the center, where we’ve seen hundreds of common, beautiful tropical fish, including yellow tangs, convict tangs, butterflyfish, and triggerfish.

Check out our Hawaiian fish snorkeling guide to identify and recognize many of the reef fish!

2. Poipu Beach Swimming

Poipu Beach is one of the best swimming beaches in Kauai, with the waters near the beach sheltered by the underwater reef.

Swimmers of most abilities can swim in the protected lagoons without worrying about strong currents or large waves.

A portion of the left beach is additionally protected by a lava rock wall, and the waters behind this wall are calm and shallow, ideal for small children to splash around!

Protected lagoons for families with kids to enjoy Poipu Beach, Kauai, Hawaii
Protected lagoons for families with kids to enjoy Poipu Beach, Kauai, Hawaii

The waters on the right side are more exposed, and better for experienced swimmers.

You are strongly urged to swim in areas under lifeguard surveillance, and check with them on the surf conditions or currents, when in doubt.

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

3. Surf Poipu Beach

With such a large expanse of Pacific Ocean water fronting Poipu Beach, surfers have a field day here!

Experienced surfers seeking the more challenging waves can head further off shore where the big waves break.

Surfers on Poipu Beach at dusk
Surfers on Poipu Beach at dusk

Beginners, kids or those trying out surfing for the first time can learn on the smaller waves closer to the lagoons.

Beautiful Poipu Beach, one of the best Kauai surfing beaches for families with kids and beginners
Beautiful Poipu Beach, one of the best Kauai surfing beaches for families with kids and beginners

With a mixed group of thrill-seeking teenagers and more cautious younger kids, Poipu Beach was the perfect beach for us!

Our younger ones had great fun boogie boarding, while the teenagers surfed the larger waves further out.

4. Admire Turtles and Monk Seals on Poipu Beach

If you haven’t spotted a Hawaiian green sea turtle or monk seal on your Hawaiian vacation yet, Poipu Beach is a beach where you’ll definitely spot them, and on the beach itself!

Especially if you stay till later in the evening, when at times, we’ve seen 20-30 turtles come to the beach to rest and sleep.

Hawaiian green sea turtles resting on Poipu Beach, Koloa, HI
Hawaiian green sea turtles resting on Poipu Beach, Koloa, HI

Monk seals are also quite common, especially on the island in the middle of Poipu Beach.

Monk seal sleeping between outrigger canoes for rent, Poipu Beach, Kauai
Monk seal sleeping between outrigger canoes for rent, Poipu Beach, Kauai

Both these iconic Hawaiian animals are endangered and protected, please view them from a distance!

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

5. Sunbathe or Relax with a Book on the Poipu Beach

With its two large beaches, you can usually find a quiet spot for sunbathing or relaxing with a book on beautiful Poipu Beach.

Lounging on Poipu Beach’s finely powdered, golden sand, you can imbibe nature at its best, from the swaying palm trees above you to the rhythmic blue waves gently lapping on the sands.

Wide, extensive Poipu Beach, perfect for sunbathing or reading a book
Wide, extensive Poipu Beach, perfect for sunbathing or reading a book

Shade on Poipu Beach is quite limited, so bring your own beach umbrella or rent one!

6. Stay Back for Spectacular Sunsets

One of the most romantic things to do on Kauai is to admire a sunset from Poipu Beach!

The sun sets over the Pacific Ocean waters to the accompaniment of an array of gorgeous colors, lighting up the sky!

Spectacular sunset from Poipu Beach, Kauai, Hawaii
Spectacular sunset from Poipu Beach, Kauai, Hawaii

What better way to enjoy this amazing Kauai sunset than to stroll leisurely along Poipu Beach with your partner?

7. Kayak, Paddleboard, or Canoe on Poipu Beach

The calm ocean waters of Poipu Beach make for great kayaking, standup paddleboarding or canoeing.

Canoeing the calm waters of Poipu Beach at sunset
Canoeing the calm waters of Poipu Beach at sunset

Many stores bordering the beach area rent these out, and you can enjoy a pleasant outing with some exercise thrown in for good measure!

And if it is winter, you may be able to spot the migrating humpback whales from your vantage point further from the shore.

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 Poipu Beach Park

Poipu Beach Park is a popular Kauai destination, and if you want a quieter or more secluded beach, you should consider the nearby Shipwreck Beach or Salt Pond Beach Park, depending on what you want to do.

Weekdays and early mornings tend to be relatively uncrowded as well.

You will likely share the beach with green sea turtles and / or sea monks. Please observe posted signs and give them a wide berth (they need their rest).

Heed the signs, Hawaiian green sea turtles are endangered and protected
Heed the signs, Hawaiian green sea turtles are endangered and protected

Poipu Beach doesn’t have much shade and the Hawaiian sun can be quite harsh. Use reefsafe sunscreen liberally!

Be aware of the ocean, surf conditions and the weather: though Poipu Beach is one of the safest beaches on Kauai, you should still exercise caution and check with the lifeguard on duty.

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 Poipu Beach Park, Kauai, HI

Poipu

Poipu is a charming town with many interesting things to do! Check out our detailed guide on what to do in Poipu, including the best places to eat and shop.

McBryde Garden and Allerton Garden, two of the best Kauai botanical gardens are nearby, and you can admire the many Hawaiian native plants, trees and flowers showcased there!

Spouting Horn, one of the best blowholes in Hawaii, is a short drive away, and you can gaze at one of nature’s wonders, regular gushes of water erupting from a hole in the lava rock!

Spouting Horn blowhole on Kauai, Hawaii, one of the best Hawaii blowholes
Spouting Horn blowhole on Kauai, Hawaii, one of the best Hawaii blowholes

Hike the Mahaulepu Heritage Trail

If you like hiking, the Mahaulepu Heritage Trail, one of the best coastal hikes in Kauai, and one of the easy Kauai hikes, starts from the nearby Shipwreck Beach.

Makawehi Bluffs, lithified sand dunes along Mahaulepu Heritage Trail, one of the best Kauai hikes near Poipu
Makawehi Bluffs, lithified sand dunes along Mahaulepu Heritage Trail, one of the best Kauai hikes near Poipu

The trail takes you through a wide variety of terrain including Makawehi Bluffs, lithified sand dunes, a golf course with nene geese (Hawaiian state bird), Makauwahi Cave Reserve, a limestone cave and sinkhole, and more beautiful beaches!

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!

Poipu Beach with lifeguards, one of the safest Kauai beaches offering swimming, snorkeling and surfing
Poipu Beach with lifeguards, one of the safest Kauai beaches offering swimming, snorkeling and surfing

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 complete guide to visiting popular Poipu Beach Park on the south shore of Kauai!

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