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Continuing Mondayâs recap, today Iâll share the best spots of the North Coast and some great hiking options. Although the best beaches and hiking tips in Kauai are a matter of opinion, I want to share what I did, and what I loved. I think you will love it too.
Paradise in Kauai: Best Beaches, Hiking Tips, and More
Arguable the best beach on the North Shore, and definitely the best beach if you are with small children, is Anini Beach. It is located just before Princeville and Hanalei Bay if you are coming from the east or south. The coastal road goes right up to the beach.
Some say the eastern portion of the beach extends to the Kiluea Lighthouse, although the most private part of the beach is found along Anini Road. There, you can park your car right next to the beach and set up for the day. Be sure to bring some shade, and also lots of snacks, as there are no restaurants in the areas.
At low tide, you will need to walk in water that in about 3 feet (1 meter) high a great distance from shore before you can really swim. But it is worth it to see the beautiful coral! A major plus of Anini beach is that it is ringed by a coral reef that protects swimmers from the wave break, and also from getting pulled out to sea. That being said, Anini can be known for it s strong currents and my local friends emphasized the importance of being alert and cautious!
The eastern portion of Anini beach is deeper and is known for its large sea turtles that are regularly in the area. I actually got to swim with three huge sea turtles when I was snorkeling at the western end. It was such a magical experience and definitely a highlight of the trip!
Hanalei Bay is a large wide bay, and even the drive to the area is so spectacularly beautiful you wonât want to miss it. You can walk along the beach or swim. It is not as protected as Anini beach, so it is better for strong swimmers, older kids and adults. We stopped there one day to take in the views and also to try the food trucks.
Hanalei is the place to go on the North Shore for boutique shopping, delicious food trucks, traditional shave ice, and more. My friend Erin really wanted to try the Indian food truck, so we headed to the area. There were amazing options including Brazilian food, Bruch foods, burgers, Hawaiian food, âgreenâ food with smoothies and salads, juice bar, tacos, shave ice, and more. Most of the trucks used local and organic ingredients, and the prices (for Kauai) were reasonable.
We got a selection from the Indian, Brazilian, Burger, and Hawaiian trucks and wanted to go back when the brunch and green trucks were open. Everything was fresh, flavorful, and delicious!
After eating, we stopped in a few of the boutiques and enjoyed the beautifully, Hawaiian-vibe items. And then, it was time to head back to the beach.
More Beaches Worth Exploring:
There are so many beautiful beaches in Kauai â you could spend all day going from one beautiful beach to the next and exploring. Here are a few more I stopped by that I thought youâd also enjoy:
- Anahola Beach Park
- Donkey Beach (aka Paliku Beach)
- Kealia Beach
The Ke Ala hale Makalae path is also a beautiful, 5-mile long ocean front path. It is paved, which makes it ideal for strollers, biking, or skating.
Finally, Kauai is an incredible place to hike. Alternating days at the beach and days hiking is also a great way to make sure you donât get too much sun. The views on the hiking trails are some of the best you will get on the island. While there are many incredible hikes all over island, the most famous hike on the Napali coast has been closed for about a year because of landslides.
I did manage to get similar spectacular views by starting my hike in Waimea Canyon. Waimea Canyon is like the âmini Grand Canyonâ and is located on the southwestern part of Kauai. It is only about a 25-minute drive up to the Kokee state park from the town of Waimea.
There are many, many hiking trails for varying abilities throughout the state park. I chose to hike the Awaawapuhi Trail in Kokee State Park, Kauai for the beautiful views it promised at the end of the hike. It was 6.5 miles roundtrip â long enough to be a great hike, but not so long to take all day. It was really perfect for anyone with at least a moderate level of fitness.
Other hikes that my friends have done and loved:
Kuilau Ridge Trail
Distance: 4.5 miles, round-trip
Time: 2.5 hours
Terrain: Mountain ridge
Honopu Ridge Trail
Kokee State Park
Distance: 10 miles, roundtrip
Time: 3-4 hours
Sleeping Giant Trail
Haleilio Rd, Kapaa
Distance: 5 miles, roundtrip
Time: 3 hours
After all that hiking and beach time, be sure to stop at the Midnight Bear Breads (Bakery) in Waimea. They have delicious pastries, fresh bread, sandwiches, coffee, and more. Itâs all organic and absolutely delicious. Since they are so popular and bake fresh daily, itâs good to stop there in the morning to get the best selection.
You can enjoy the paradise of Kauai from the beautiful beaches and incredible hikes, to the world-class pastries. Be sure to bookmark this guide for your trip!
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