Popular Kauai Beaches
South Shore Beaches
Few beaches on Kauai are as striking and wild as Shipwreck Beach. Locals gave the beach its name because of an old shipwreck that once rested nearby. Although the wreckage is long gone, it remains a favorite spot for visitors who love hiking and exploring the rugged shoreline.
Overview of Shipwreck Beach
Shipwreck Beach is a “headline performer.” this is it, folks: the most epic, the most beautiful, and probably the most visited of all Kauai beaches. This gorgeous Kauai beach offers something for everyone, from long walks up and down its golden sandy shores to beach sports like boogie boarding or kayaking, to sunbathing and TV-worthy scenery for honeymooners looking for that perfect tropical paradise.
Shipwreck Beach is perhaps the most-visited spot of Kauai for adventurers and thrill-seekers. The natural 40-foot cliff jump is one of the only spots on the island to get that kind of jump. It's also easy to keep your adrenaline pumping because whale watching is another activity you can do here. Thousands of people have seen whales while visiting Shipwreck Beach.
Getting There- Shipwreck Beach
If you want to visit Shipwreck Beach, there are two ways to get there. You can hike via the Maha'ulepu Heritage Trail or drive down Poipu Rd.
The beach is between the Grand Hyatt Kauai and the Poipu Bay Resort Golf Course on Poipu Road. From Poipu Road past the Grand Hyatt Kauai, turn right onto Ainakoa St. Follow the road past the tennis courts and to the end of the road, where you'll find a public parking lot. If there isn't room in the parking lot, many people usually park in the dirt area above the lot.
Essential Tips for a Great Visit to Shipwreck Beach
Snorkeling is not recommended here due to safety concerns, but other nearby beaches are famous for snorkeling adventures. Rip currents, hidden rocks, and a short shore break make this beach dangerous for non-expert surfers. There are no lifeguards on duty so check to see if any warning flags (which signal potentially dangerous water conditions) have been posted.
Though some locals and tourists alike jump off the cliffs into the powerful surf below, we don’t encourage you to do it yourself. The experience of watching others do it is truly exhilarating. If you choose to risk it, proceed with caution - remember to review tide patterns and debris before jumping. From the 35-foot jump at Shipwrecks, you may drown before you reach the ocean floor. Even if you survive the jump safely, you may be pulled out to sea by an undesirable wave current. Bottom line: Do not even consider jumping.
Shipwreck Beach Amenities
The beach has limited amenities. You can find the public restrooms, showers, picnic tables, and a public parking lot. You can find them near the Grand Hyatt.
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Thrilling Activities at Shipwreck Beach
Family Activities at Shipwreck Beach
Shipwreck Beach of Kauai, Hawaii, is a treasure trove of fun activities. The white sand, azure water, and serene ambiance make it a perfect spot to enjoy family.
This beach has good conditions for swimming in the summer months, but powerful surf and strong currents make it dangerous at other times. Inexperienced swimmers and children should be extremely cautious here, especially near the rocky outcroppings at either end of the beach.
Shipwreck Beach Activities
Surf or bodyboard: You certainly can't go wrong with catching some waves at Shipwreck Beach. This is one of the most popular spots on Kauai's South Shore to surf and bodyboard, so be sure to take advantage of it! We recommend it for the experienced.
Take a stroll: Walk or run along the beach from Brennecke's to Poipu Beach Park. Feel the refreshing ocean breezes and see stunning views of the Na Pali Coast, Makawehi Point, Koloa Landing, and other landmarks. It’s an excellent exercise walk, and you can stop along the way for pictures of the many beautiful views.
Check out Makawehi Lithified Cliffs: A large, rocky area known as Makawehi Point juts out into the ocean at Shipwreck Beach. You can find Lokoea fish ponds and a blowhole that spouts water about 100 feet into the air when the surf is high. If you feel adventurous, you can hike around Makawehi Point during low tide. The Lithified Cliffs are a treasure trove of fossils, petroglyphs, and burial grounds.
Sunbathing: If you want to lay on the beach, with fewer people around, walk along the coast. There are fewer people here than at other beaches, so you are more likely to find space for your towel.
Spot the marine wildlife: The best time of year to see whales at Shipwreck Beach is during the winter months when the humpback whales migrate from Alaska to Hawaii to give birth to their calves. You can often spot whales, dolphins, and sea turtles from the shore during this time.
Windsurfing: The consistent winds here create good conditions for windsurfing adventurers.
Swimming: If you're feeling adventurous, you can enter the water right near the beach on a sunny day when it is calm enough to do so safely. It is recommended that you walk along the shoreline to see if the sea conditions are suitable for your activities before entering the water!
Maha'ulepu Heritage Trail: You can also enjoy a pleasant hike along the Maha'ulepu Heritage Trail- considered one of the most beautiful hikes in Kauai. The trail skirts the coastline. The trail winds through an ancient Hawaiian fishpond and along a stretch of white sand beach before reaching Maha’ulepu Valley. There are several entry points to the Mahaulepu Heritage Trail, but the most popular is where we started: Shipwreck Beach.
The trail passes through Makauwahi Beach, which is a turtle nesting area. It then continues east through Makauwahi Cave Reserve, rich with cultural history. Expect to find petroglyphs, canoe ramps, and even a traditional heiau (ancient Hawaiian temple) on the trail.
Nearby Attractions and Sights of Shipwreck Beach
Poipu Beach Park: Located just next door to Shipwreck Beach, a great place to dive in. The park offers calm waters and tons of space to swim, snorkel, and surf. For those who want to enjoy their food with a view, this beach also offers picnic tables and barbecue grills along its shoreline.
Stroll through the town of Kapa’a: If you’re looking for the quintessential Kauai town, look no further than Kapa’a. The hub of the east side, this town is a great place to get a feel for Kauai. Kapa’a is a small, walkable town with plenty of shops and restaurants. The oceanfront Coconut Marketplace also has plenty of shopping and dining options, along with living entertainment. This is a must-see if you want to experience all that Kauai has to offer.
Luxury at Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort and Poipu Kai Resort: Enjoy these resorts located in Poipu Beach along the southern coast of Kauai, where guests can enjoy luxurious amenities and accommodations, world-class golf, and dining, an award-winning spa, extensive children's programs, water activities, tennis and more.
The Poipu Bay Golf Course, South Kauai: This course features 18 holes for all skill levels and a driving range and practice putting greens. This course is surrounded by panoramic ocean views from almost every hole and hosts the PGA Grand Slam of Golf each year in late October / early November.
Where to Stay on South Kauai
Choosing the best lodging for your needs and budget is a huge part of making your Hawaiian vacation truly spectacular. Whether you're looking to pamper yourself with some much-needed R&R at a resort and spa, need a roomy vacation rental for the kids, or are looking for good-quality budget options to maximize your vacation dollars, check out these great South Kauai accommodations.