Salt Pond Beach Park Kauai HI

Salt Pond Beach Park, Kauai: Complete 2024 Visitor Guide

Tired of overcrowded Kauai beaches, filled with tourists?

Far from the tourist throngs of Poipu, Salt Pond Beach Park, on the South Shore of Kauai, is a beautiful, secluded beach, just 15-20 minutes drive from Poipu, but more than what the casual tourist will drive for.

Mostly deserted on weekdays and, on weekends, more of a local community gathering spot, Salt Pond Beach Park offers you an opportunity to relax during your vacation, and meet and mingle with friendly locals over the weekends.

Salt Pond Beach Park, Kauai, beautiful, crescent-shaped bay and golden sandy beach
Salt Pond Beach Park, Kauai, beautiful, crescent-shaped bay and golden sandy beach

Steeped in ancient Hawaiian culture, we learned a lot about the fascinating history of the nearby salt ponds that have been cultivated by generations of Hawaiian families, making salt for their table and as gifts to their friends and families (native Hawaiian salt is customarily not for sale).

Salt Pond Beach is one of the best Kauai snorkeling beaches, and with its protected coral reefs, offers swimming and snorkeling year-round, even when other popular beaches like Poipu Beach are not swimmable due to summer or winter swells.

Let us explore Salt Pond Beach virtually, and help you plan your trip here!

Hey, by the way! Visiting Kauai? The only way to get a real feel for the rugged beauty of this incredible island is through a helicopter tour! Check out the five highest rated Kauai helicopter tours for 2024!

Beautiful Salt Pond Beach Park on Kauai, Hawaii, with coconut palm trees along the beach
Beautiful Salt Pond Beach Park on Kauai, Hawaii, with coconut palm trees along the beach

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Salt Pond Beach Park Directions

Salt Pond Beach Park is located on the southwestern shore of Kauai, 15-20 minutes from the southern shore tourist hub of Poipu.

If you’re coming from Poipu, take Highway 50, Kaumualii Highway, to Lele Road which comes just after you cross Hanapepe River and the town of Eleele.

From Lele Road, at the Kauai Veterans Cemetery, take a right on Lokokai Road, also called Salt Pond Road, all the way to Salt Pond Beach Park.

Taking a leisurely stroll on a mostly deserted Salt Pond Beach, Kauai, Hawaii
Taking a leisurely stroll on a mostly deserted Salt Pond Beach, Kauai, Hawaii

Salt Pond Beach Park Parking

Nice thing about Salt Pond Beach Park – you don’t have to worry about parking!

The beach park has a large free parking lot, and you can park at the main lot or if you are planning to mostly snorkel, use the parking lot closest to the airport.

Salt Pond Beach Park Map

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

Salt Pond Beach Access

Salt Pond Beach can be accessed directly from the parking lot.

Salt Pond Beach Reservations

No reservations are required for visiting Salt Pond Beach Park. If you are planning to camp, you will need a permit from the Department of Parks & Recreation.

Salt Pond Beach Park Amenities / Facilities

Location: Kauai’s Southwestern Shore, near Eleele, on the way to Waimea Canyon State Park
Lifeguard: Yes
Beach Amenities: Restrooms, showers, picnic tables, shaded huts, camp sites
Food Nearby: Food trucks or head to Hanapepe, nearest town, for food options
Parking: Beach parking lot, ample parking
Directions: Salt Pond Road, Eleele (take Lele Road off Highway 50)

Lifeguards are typically on duty from 9 am until 5 pm in the evening.

Lifeguard station on Salt Pond Beach Park, Kauai, great for families with kids
Lifeguard station on Salt Pond Beach Park, Kauai, great for families with kids

Before entering the water, we always make it a point to talk to them for tips on the surf and water conditions, and the best areas to swim and snorkel.

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

Best Things to Do at Salt Pond Beach Park, Kauai

Salt Pond Beach Park is a remote, secluded beach, usually uncrowded, and one of the best Kauai south shore beaches for families with kids, and snorkelers and swimmers of all skill levels.

Crescent-shaped, with natural fringing coral reefs coming to the shore, Salt Pond Beach is long and wide, with roughly a mile long stretch of beach.

Salt Pond Beach, crescent-shaped with natural fringing coral reefs
Salt Pond Beach, crescent-shaped with natural fringing coral reefs

The beach waters can be conveniently divided into three main sections:

  • a central section right at the middle of the crescent, which is large and deeper, and called the main bay,
  • a right section with shallow, calm waters called the keiki pond (for smaller kids), and
  • a left section with more interesting coral reefs and tide pools, adjacent to the airport, called the airport side.
Salt Pond Beach Park, southwestern side of Kauai, with soft powdered sand and crystal clear waters
Salt Pond Beach Park, southwestern side of Kauai, with soft powdered sand and crystal clear waters

1. Salt Pond Beach Snorkeling

Salt Pond Beach is one of the best Kauai snorkeling beaches, where you can snorkel all year-round, even in winter!

The best snorkeling is on the airport side, with many tide pools and coral reefs, and abundant Hawaiian tropical fish and marine life like Hawaiian green sea turtles.

Coral reefs in Salt Pond Beach, one of the less crowded Kauai snorkeling beaches on the southwestern shore
Coral reefs in Salt Pond Beach, one of the less crowded Kauai snorkeling beaches on the southwestern shore

The natural fringing coral reefs come all the way to shore, creating a safe snorkeling environment for beginning snorkelers and kids.

Apart from the common schools of tangs, we saw some of the more colorful Hawaiian fish here while snorkeling, including pretty butterflyfishes, triggerfishes, and a quite rare Achilles tang!

To identify and recognize these and other Hawaiian fish, refer to our detailed Hawaiian fish snorkeling guide.

Our kids had great fun exploring the various tide pools on the east side.

2. Salt Pond Beach Swimming

Salt Pond Beach Park is one of the best family-friendly beaches on Kauai, with sheltered lagoons protected by the underwater coral reefs, and lifeguards on duty to guide and oversee swimmers in the water.

The keiki pond, especially, is a godsend for families with smaller kids: a well-protected, sheltered lagoon with shallow waters where the little ones can splash around!

Keiki pond at Salt Pond Beach Park, shallow, calm waters protected by fringing reefs
Keiki pond at Salt Pond Beach Park, shallow, calm waters protected by fringing reefs

The main bay is deeper and bigger, and sometimes has stronger currents, so meant for the stronger swimmers. Check with the lifeguards before swimming here.

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

3. Sunbathe or Play Frisbee on the Salt Pond Beach

With a mile long beach that is quite wide, Salt Pond Beach offers quiet privacy for sunbathing or lounging on the beautiful golden sands, watching the stunningly blue waves wash ashore.

Unlike many of the other pretty Kauai beaches like Hideaways Beach or Tunnels Beach, Salt Pond Beach Park doesn’t have ironwood trees or monkey pod trees lining the beach, providing shade.

The only shade you have is from a few picturesque palm trees and covered pavilions.

Covered pavilions and palm trees providing shade on Salt Pond Beach Park, Kauai, Hawaii
Covered pavilions and palm trees providing shade on Salt Pond Beach Park, Kauai, Hawaii

Want to unwind during your vacation? Take a leisurely stroll along the beach, taking in the amazing vista of one of the most beautiful Kauai beaches!

Or play frisbee with the family in the extended grassy areas along the beach.

Large grassy areas for family fun on Salt Pond Beach Park, Kauai, Hawaii
Large grassy areas for family fun on Salt Pond Beach Park, Kauai, Hawaii

Opportunities to unwind on this typically deserted beach on weekdays are endless, and Salt Pond Beach Park is my favorite beach to relax while staying in nearby Poipu!

4. Stay Back for Spectacular Sunsets from Salt Pond Beach Park

Who hasn’t heard about Hawaii’s colorful tropical sunsets? And what better than to enjoy one in relative solitude?

Salt Pond Beach Park is one of the best locations to watch sunsets on Kauai, and one of the best things to do in Poipu is to drive up just to watch sunsets here!

Sunsets at Salt Pond Beach Park are stunning and dramatic, with the sun dipping below the Pacific Ocean waters, creating an amazing display of colors!

Watch colorful sunsets from Salt Pond Beach Park, Kauai, Hawaii
Watch colorful sunsets from Salt Pond Beach Park, Kauai, Hawaii

Strolling along the beach with your partner, admiring the sunset over the tranquil ocean waters and tide pools at Salt Pond Beach Park, is one of the best romantic things to do in Kauai!

5. Admire Turtles and Monk Seals on Salt Pond Beach

Missed seeing Hawaiian green sea turtles, one of Hawaii’s iconic marine animals, while snorkeling?

Don’t worry, Salt Pond Beach, being relatively uncrowded, is a magnet for turtles and endangered monk seals, who head here for an afternoon nap!

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

On every stroll along the beach, we spotted a few of the turtles resting! Monk seals are more difficult to spot, but we did see a solitary one, rolling playfully on the sand.

Both are endangered and protected by laws, make sure you keep a respectable distance of at least 10 feet, and let them enjoy their rest!

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

6. Surf Salt Pond Beach

Surfing is one of the most popular activities on Salt Pond Beach, especially in winter, when the waves are larger.

While North Shore Kauai beaches are more famous for winter surfing, the towering waves there tend to be more for experienced or professional surfers.

Salt Pond Beach is excellent for surfers of all levels, but note that you have to head further offshore, since the waves break before the natural coral reef barrier.

Waves breaking on the coral reef offshore at Salt Pond Beach Park, Kauai, Hawaii
Waves breaking on the coral reef offshore at Salt Pond Beach Park, Kauai, Hawaii

7. Visit the Salt Ponds

In Kauai, salt ponds are unique to Salt Pond Beach Park, and one of the main reasons people visit this beach.

Hawaiian salt is harvested here using man-made salt ponds, an ancient Hawaiian custom, handed down generation to generation.

The making of salt has not changed much over the years.

Salt ponds adjacent to Salt Pond Beach Park
Salt ponds adjacent to Salt Pond Beach Park

Normal ocean water is trapped in these man-made ponds, with clay beds. As the water evaporates and the bed dries, salt crystals form and are scraped with a net, and collected.

Per ancient Hawaiian custom, this salt is not sold, but used by the families and gifted to other families. Hawaiians use the salt in their cuisine and for medicinal purposes.

You can view the salt ponds from a distance, please be respectful of their private, protected lands.

We were lucky to be invited by one of the local families for a closer look, as they were tending to their section of the salt ponds.

8. Whale Watching in Winter from Salt Pond Beach Park

The clear views of the Pacific Ocean waters deep into the horizon are perfect for whale watching in winter, when the migratory humpback whales return to Hawaii for breeding!

You will need a good pair of binoculars though, the whales are usually about half a mile from shore!

Humpback whale breaching the surface
Humpback whale breaching the surface

We saw a humpback whale calf breaching the waters gracefully alongside its huge mom, one of our best wildlife sightings on that Kauai vacation!

9. Kayak, Paddle Board, or Canoe Salt Pond Beach

The natural lagoons created by the coral reefs provide sheltered, calm waters where you can try your hand at kayaking, standup paddle boarding and canoeing in the open ocean waters.

Kayaking in the quiet, placid waters of Salt Pond Beach Park, Kauai, Hawaii
Kayaking in the quiet, placid waters of Salt Pond Beach Park, Kauai, Hawaii

While on the beach, we saw a bunch of young tourists take a couple of canoes across the lagoons, and they were having a great time!

10. Salt Pond Beach Park Camping

Enjoy camping in the wilderness? Beach camping may be a nice experience to add to that.

Salt Pond Beach Park is one of the few Kauai beaches that offer camping sites, though you need to obtain a permit from the Department of Parks and Recreation.

Shaded campsites are available, and you have a lot of amenities including showers, restrooms, barbeque grills, outdoor sink, power outlets, and covered pavilions. No hot water though.

USA, Kauai, Salt Pond Beach Park.

No need to set the alarm to wake up, when we were there, roosters in the nearby trees would give a loud and raucous alarm at dawn!

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 Salt Pond Beach Park, Kauai

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.

While placid most of the time, high surf conditions do occur, and often result in waves breaking over the natural coral reefs.

Waves over the coral reefs under high surf conditions at Salt Pond Beach Park, Kauai, Hawaii
Waves over the coral reefs under high surf conditions at Salt Pond Beach Park, Kauai, Hawaii

If you plan to camp here, or even otherwise, I recommend you use bug spray or mosquito repellent.

With limited shade, sunscreen is advisable. Use reefsafe sunscreen to protect the delicate coral reefs.

You will see food trucks here, and we sampled some really delicious tacos from one of the trucks. Other food options are available at nearby Hanapepe.

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.

What Else to Do Near Salt Pond Beach Park, Kauai, Hawaii

State Parks of Kauai

Usually tourists who stop at Salt Pond Beach Park are either on their way to a state park or returning from one, and wanting to relax a bit on the beach.

Salt Pond Beach Park is on the way to two of the must-see Kauai state parks: Waimea Canyon State Park and Kokee State Park.

Waimea Canyon State Park is home to the most prominent geological structure on Kauai, Waimea Canyon, one of the best places to visit in all of Hawaii, with many lookouts and hikes.

Dramatic contrast between the red soil and green lush vegetation in Waimea Canyon from the Canyon Trail to Waipo'o Falls, one of the best Kauai hikes in Koke'e State Park
Dramatic contrast between the red soil and green lush vegetation in Waimea Canyon from the Canyon Trail to Waipo’o Falls, one of the best Kauai hikes in Koke’e State Park

Kokee State Park, further to the north beyond Waimea Canyon State Park, has some of the best Kauai hikes with rainforests, Na Pali coast views, waterfalls, and an opportunity to spot some pretty Hawaiian birds.

Salt Pond Beach Park is also en route to Polihale State Park when travelling from Poipu.

Hanapepe

Hanapepe is a quaint little town close to Salt Pond Beach Park. Apart from stopping here for food, you can also explore its historical swinging bridge over Hanapepe river and stop to take in the views from Hanapepe Valley Lookout.

Art nights on Fridays are a regular event at Hanapepe.

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!

Beautiful Salt Pond Beach Park, Kauai, Hawaii
Beautiful Salt Pond 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!

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.

Learn about the best things to do in Hanalei, the charming town that sits in the middle of Kauai’s scenic north 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!

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Discover the complete guide to visiting Salt Pond Beach Park on Kauai's south shore in Hawaii!

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