Haena Beach Park
North Shore Kauai Beach
The words "Haena Beach Park" conjure images of beauty: crystal clear water, white beaches, and golden rays of sunlight. Sometimes it is easy to forget that there’s so much more to this place. For instance, the Kalalau Trail leads the adventurous to a secluded valley on the island’s north shore.
Overview of Haena Beach Park
Haena Beach sits on one side of the crescent-shaped Maniniholo Bay on Kauai’s North Shore. As one of the island's crown jewels, the beach boasts a setting of black rocks, white sand, and tropical greenery. Plus, the other side encompasses the renowned Tunnels Beach. The beach offers breathtaking views of Maniniholo Bay and Mount Makana, featured in the movie “South Pacific.”
As one of the most stunning views on Kaua’i, cliffs and tropical flowers surround this beach. Vegetated dunes back Ha'ena Beach. But the two reefs—Makua Reef to the east and Hauwa Reef to the west—do not protect it from open ocean swells, creating wild surf, significant shore breaks, and dangerous rip currents.
Cannon's Reef is off to the left, a popular surfing area where surfer Bethany Hamilton lost her arm during a shark attack. Since then, she has returned to surfing and become a hero to many local surfers. Additionally, Haena Beach Park offers vistas of Hanalei Bay, Na Pali Coast, and waterfalls in the distance. It's also the access point for hiking to the Kalalau Trail.
Directions to Haena Beach Park
Take Highway 56 north of Līhue. In Princeville, Highway 56 will turn into Highway 560. Drive west on 560 until you reach mile marker 9, where you’ll find Maniholo Dry Cave on the left and Hā‘ena Beach Park on the right.
Essential Tips for a Great Visit to Haena Beach Park
Always check the ocean conditions before entering the water. The shore break, strong current, and sudden drop off of the seafloor make it unsafe for inexperienced swimmers. Only experienced swimmers should even consider entering the water.
We recommend going when the waves swell to only moderate levels during the summer months. Otherwise, expect a rough surf spot with strong currents and high tides.
Haena Beach Park Amenities
Haena Beach the following:
- Parking lot
- Grassy areas
- Picnic tables and pavilions with picnic tables.
- Lifeguard Stations
- The camping area along the beach stretches from Ke’e Beach to Ha’ena Beach Park.
— article continued below —
Thrilling Activities at Haena Beach Park
Family Activities at Haena Beach Park
Come to Haena Beach Park for a bit of family time. Enjoy the great snorkeling spots with reef views, and watch out for sea turtles! Even if you aren't interested in snorkeling, it's still worth a visit to see the beautiful scenery from the shores. The park also has excellent hiking opportunities, so be sure to bring hiking shoes, as there are trailheads you can explore. This beach is fantastic for romantic beach walks, shell collecting, and beachcombing. You can also swim and surf here, but be aware of strong currents.
Haena Beach Park Activities
Come to Haena Beach for fun and relaxation. The beach offers so much for everyone.
Enjoy the shade: Coconut trees line the shore, offering shade to visitors and an abundance of coconuts that you can pick and eat.
Go Camping: There’s a campground just behind the beach for those who want to enjoy the island’s beauty. With a grassy area for pitching tents, camping here includes all the essentials you need and more.
Surfing: Surf’s up! Are you ready to ride the waves? Haena Beach is one of the most famous beaches on the north shore of Kauai for a reason. Be prepared for high surf conditions from November through May, especially during December and January — but if you’re an experienced surfer, these swells are a dream come true. For those seeking adventure, check out winter's tremendous waves and challenge your skills. There are also board and gear rentals available along the beach road as you approach Haena Beach.
Take a stroll down the coast to Ke'e Beach and Tunnels Beach: Let the hustle and bustle of the city dissolve as you stroll down to Ke'e Beach or Tunnels Beach. If you're feeling frisky, you can spend an hour or two doing some snorkeling, but don't be surprised if the current is a little bit brisk.
Sand Activities: If you're looking for an excellent spot to pick up shells or play in the sand, Haena Beach is a perfect choice.
Snorkel: Haena Beach is one of the most popular spots on Kauai for snorkeling. It features crystal clear waters, coral reefs, and numerous marine life. The water is shallow and calm, perfect for novice snorkelers. More than 250 species of fish, sea turtles and eels can be seen.
Swimming: Haena Beach Park also offers excellent swimming, especially in summer. For your safety, always check with lifeguards for current conditions before entering the water.
Scuba Diving: Haena Beach is also an excellent location for scuba diving. The water is clear and warm, and it's easy to see the rich aquatic life up close as you explore the coral reefs. Several dive shops are located in Haena Village, where you can sign up for tours or rent equipment.
Nearby Attractions and Sights of Haena Beach
Kalalau Trail: Hiking the Kalalau Trail is one of the most popular hikes in Hawaii. The 11-mile trail takes visitors from Haena Beach Park to Kalalau Beach, with several waterfalls, valleys, and beaches. Hiking the Kalalau Trail can be a day hike or an overnight adventure. The trail is considered difficult and not recommended for those who are inexperienced at hiking trails.
Snorkeling: Tunnels Beach offers a great chance to see Kauai's sea life. The beach's name comes from lava tubes that create a series of arches accessible at low tide. You can see all sorts of fish and sea turtles, who love this area. The best part about snorkeling at Tunnels Beach is that you don't have to get into the water to see the turtles. They hang out on the beach. If you don't want to rent snorkeling equipment and are interested in swimming, it's also an excellent beach.
Kayak or Paddleboarding at Hanalei Bay: The calm waters at Hanalei Bay make it a great place to try stand-up paddleboarding (SUP). It's a challenging but rewarding sport that lets you enjoy some exercise while communing with nature. You can even bring your dog along if he or she likes water! You can rent SUP boards from one of the many vendors located in Hanalei.
Makana Mountain: Makana means "gift" in the Hawaiian language. The hike up Makana Mountain isn't for the faint of heart. It's a journey that takes you up over 1,600 feet to a ridge overlooking the Napali Coast. The view from this ridgeline is spectacular — if you can make it there, you'll be rewarded with one of the most stunning vistas in Hawaii. Filmmakers used Makana Mountain (more commonly known as Bali Hai, after the movie South Pacific) in many films and TV shows, including Jurassic Park, Six Days Seven Nights, and Raiders of the Lost Ark.
Visit Na Pali Coast State Wilderness Park: The rugged NaPali Coast Wilderness Park sits along the northwest shore of Kauai. The park encompasses 6,175 acres and extends along 15 miles of coastline. It's accessible only by boat or helicopter or by hiking the Kalalau Trail, an 11-mile trek that begins at Haena Beach Park. The park hosts many archaeological and historic sites, including ancient Hawaiian fishing villages dating to the 1200s. Other features include roaring waterfalls like those at Hanakapi'ai and Kalalau valleys.