Hideaway Beach, known to locals as Pali Ke Kua, is one of the gems of Kauai’s North Shore. Nestled against the base of Princeville’s cliffs, this hidden beach ducks unobtrusively below the condos and hotels above, offering an escape to the wild beauty Kauai is known for.
A steep trail down the cliffside is a fun challenge for those comfortable with rugged, unkept terrain; others might find the trail prohibitively challenging. On portions of the trail, ropes tied around trees give beachgoers a handhold as they go up or down; in other sections, you’ll be on your own as you traverse the lava rock and steeply-zigzagging dirt steps.
Don’t expect lifeguards, restrooms, or a pristinely-manicured beach here at Hideaway Beach. This is one of the magnificent hidden beaches on the island. Because the waves break on the offshore reef, the area within the reef is typically well protected and clear for swimming–but keep in mind that high surf can bring rough waters all the way up to shore, and a rapidly-falling tide can cause currents pulling out of the openings in the reef. Unless the surf is unusually high, though, the conditions here tend to be favorable for swimming and snorkeling. You’ll find plenty of sea life (colorful fish galore!) to appreciate underwater.
Above water, the pristine sand and crystalline blue-green water set the stage for an idyllic day in the outdoors. You’ll get to enjoy a huge variety of native foliage as you climb down toward the beach, and at the beach itself, ironwood, palms, and monkeypod trees offer generous shady escapes–ideal for a beachfront hammock nap.
Don’t be surprised if you see green sea turtles (honu) drifting along in the surf–or even soaking up the sun on the sand. You might also see chickens roaming the beach with their chicks–a fairly common sight in Kauai, but fun to watch, regardless.
Keep in mind that the difficulty of the trail and the Hideaway Beach conditions vary widely from season to season, depending on the weather and the tides. After a rain, the trail becomes slippery with mud and very challenging, and because it’s more of a climb than a hike, it’s probably not the best trail for those with impaired mobility or with small children to escort along–even in the best of conditions.
Some adventurers opt to kayak to Hideaway Beach from Hanalei Bay, but navigating around the coral along the bay’s edge can be tricky; you might want to rent kayaks from an outfitter than will provide a guide for the trip.
Hideaway Beach is located in Princeville on Kauai’s North Shore. If you’re lucky enough to find a parking spot, you’ll find a variety of restaurants and shops to explore within easy walking distance of the trailhead, which is right beside St. Regis.
-Parking at Hideaway Beach can be tough; there are only 9-10 public parking spots nearby, and these tend to fill up quickly. Some visitors report that paying for valet parking at 1 Hotel Hanalei Bay is well worth it.
-This isn’t a trail for flip-flops. Bring along sturdy sandals designed for rough terrain–or hiking/gym shoes you wouldn’t mind getting muddy.
-Don’t risk parking at the nearby vacation rental properties; they are known to tow non-guests.