Kauapea Beach

Kauapea Beach (or Secret Beach) — A Hidden Gem in North Shore Kauai
Local Expert's Rating:
4.5 / 5
The Bottom Line:

Widely known as Secret Beach, Kauapea Beach is a beloved hidden gem located along the coast of North Shore Kauai. Although the water’s not great for swimming, you can enjoy beachcombing, sunbathing, and exploring. You’ll need to trek down quite a steep path to get here, but it’s well worth it.   

- The HawaiianIslands.com Local Expert Team

If you’re in the mood to simply get away from it all, put Kauapea Beach on your radar. Also known as Secret Beach, these sandy shores are definitely a hidden gem in North Shore Kauai. Since it takes an oft-treacherous trek down a slippery path to get here, many people skip it in favor of the many other nearby beaches. But if you manage to make the trip, you’ll be well rewarded for your efforts.

Stretching over a half-mile, the sandy shores serve as a top spot to go beachcombing, sunbathing, and picnicking to your heart’s content. As you play along the shores, you’ll undoubtedly see people taking advantage of the robust waves by enjoying a little bit of bodysurfing. In the winter, the waves get even bigger, bringing out advanced surfers by the boatload.

Unfortunately, due to the rough surf, the water is not great for swimming. Making matters worse, there are no lifeguards on duty here at any time. Plus, with the beach so inaccessible, rescue crews are likely to take a while to arrive at the water’s edge.

Top activities at Kauapea Beach include:

With sandy shores that go on for more than ½ mile, this beach is great for exploring. As you look around, you’ll likely find tons of tide pools along the lava rocks to the west. Plus, you can find a small waterfall along the east side. Just be aware, as you venture eastward, clothing becomes optional as that area serves as Kauai’s unofficial nude beach. 

The powerful waves bring in tons of seashells and polished rocks onto the sand where you can marvel at their beauty. Just walk along the water’s edge to find them and see how many you can collect. Then, create a stunning mandala on the sand with your found treasures. You can even use them to dress up your sandcastles and give them even more artistic flair.

Sunbathing is a popular pastime at Kauapea Beach due to the soft sand, shady areas, and phenomenal views. As you lie on the sandy shores, take in the view of Mokuaeae Island and look along the cliffs for the Kilauea Lighthouse. If you want to relax by the water while enjoying the shade, set up a big umbrella to lie under.  

Before you can even attempt to walk the trail and enjoy all your beachside adventures, you need to find parking. There are limited spots next to the trailhead in the cul-de-sac at the end of Kauapea/Secret Beach Road. If all those spots are full, go ahead and park along the side of the road. Just be sure to put your vehicle as far to the side as possible to avoid blocking the way. To avoid the whole full parking situation, get here as early as possible, and you can grab a spot quite easily.

Insider Tips:
-Watch your step as you head down the trail. The many tree roots along the path are very slick when wet. A great pair of hiking shoes can help you maintain steady footing.
-There’s no official parking here. Many people park along the side of the road — just be sure to steer clear of parking in unprecedented areas.
-If you want to wade along the water’s edge at Kauapea Beach, be sure to wear water shoes to protect your feet from the sharp rocks and coral fragments.
-No bathrooms here! So, if you need a restroom, plan to head over to the restaurants and shops around Kilauea Road and Keneke Street to find one.
-Although locals often swim here in the summer, it’s not the safest option around even if you’re a strong swimmer. You can try Anini Beach instead for a safer swimming experience, especially outside the summer months.