Where Is Kalihiwai Beach?
Enclosed by impressive lava cliffs and backed by breezy ironwood trees, beautiful crescent-shaped Kalihiwai Beach is located one and a half miles (2.4 km) from Kilauea on the north shore of Kauai. Large, family-friendly, and secluded, Kalihiwai Beach is known for its unique and refreshing tropical ambiance, picturesque beauty, and classic surfing, sans the usual crowds.
Why Visit Kalihiwai Beach?
Enjoy swimming and bodyboarding here, both made nice due to the sandy ocean bottom. Shoreline fishing and surfing for beginners are also popular during summer months. Typically ocean conditions at the beach for swimming and other activities are safest in summer when the water is calm. A good alternative to ocean swimming in winter months (November through March) when the water is less calm is the Kalihiwai River which enters the ocean on the west side of the beach. The river mouth has created a lovely lagoon with a calm, shallow pool of brackish water, perfect for kids. Dolphins are often seen in this area, so be on the lookout.
A classic surfing beach, Kalihiwai hosts a popular surf break which is created by a shallow, underwater rock shelf extending from the cliffs, especially popular during winter with the locals. Surfers enjoy riding from the rocky base of Kapukaamoi Point to the eastern point of the bay, staying close to the sea cliff. In winter, there are big swells, and the steep, hollow waves are fast-breaking, providing great expert-level surfing.
Bring a picnic basket and enjoy a peaceful, relaxing lunch under the shade of an ironwood tree. Have a cookout, take a walk along the golden sandy beach, play in the surf or the lagoon, climb the rocks, and take advantage of numerous photo ops, especially at sunset. Watch the local surfers, or enjoy riding your own surfboard. This hidden gem will feel like your own private beach.
To get here from Kilauea, the closest town, take Kuhio Highway (HI-Route 56 West) through the town. At mile marker 35, prepare to turn right. Turn right onto Kalihiwai Road which quickly bends left, and travel for almost a mile into Kalihiwai Bay. Beach parking is along the shoreline in the trees on the right.
Things to Do in the Area
Kalihiwai Beach is located just west of the Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge Lighthouse. If you choose to visit, be prepared for picturesque coastal scenery and a gorgeous view of the lighthouse. You might get a glimpse of the nene, Hawaii’s state bird, as well as other native birds. The cost to enter the refuge is $10, and parking is free.
Spectacular Kalihiwai Falls is created by the river which flows under the graceful Kalihiwai Bridge before reaching the bay. You can see the falls upstream from the bridge, but for a better view, you can kayak from the beach, passing under the scenic bridge to get to the falls. Enjoy the pool at the bottom of the falls and hike the trail to get to the top. Inflatable kayaks are available for rent in several areas nearby.
Just a mile and a half from Kalihiwai Beach is beautiful Anini Beach. You can take advantage of the calm water here for snorkeling. It is also another great location for enjoying beautiful sunsets.
Things You Should Know
During winter, there are strong shore break waves and powerful currents. There is no lifeguard on duty, so remember to stay close to shore and out of the water during times of high surf unless you are an expert.
There are several hotels in the area with those in Princeville being the closest. The Westin Princeville Ocean Resort Villas and Princeville Resort are each under five miles away, but are $300-500 per night. For a cheaper stay, there are 11 hotels in Kapaa, around 13 miles away, ranging from $150-200 per night. If you are interested in renting a space to stay, a quick check at Airbnb lists a variety of homes, condos, studios, and rooms in a range of prices in the area.
Shaded parking is provided directly on the beach, so that you can pull up, unload, and immediately enjoy the surroundings. A portable toilet is available.