Larsen’s Beach

Larsen’s Beach/Lepe'uli Beach: Long, Uncrowded Sands on Kauai’s Northeast Shore
Local Expert's Rating:
4 / 5
The Bottom Line:

Usually a fairly uncrowded beach on Kauai’s northeastern shore, Larsen’s Beach—also called Lepeuli or Kaakeaniu Beach—provides a long stretch of handsome sand for strolling, sunbathing, and picnicking. The waters aren’t very conducive to swimming, although snorkelers can find some calm, reef-sheltered spots to explore so long as they avoid dangerous cuts such as the notorious Pakala Channel. Larsen’s Beach isn’t the easiest to access, but that helps keep its beautiful, undeveloped oceanfront that much quieter.

- The Local Expert Team

Larsen’s Beach, which you may also see referred to as Lepeuli or Kaakeaniu Beach, is one of the more out-of-the-way seashores along Kauai’s northeastern coast. A bit less straightforward to reach than it once was thanks to some private-property issues, the beach is wonderful for walking, picnicking, sunbathing, and sunrise-watching, while conditions aren’t friendly for swimming and somewhat limited for snorkeling.

Set between Kulikoa Point to the northwest and Moloaa Bay to the southeast, Larsen’s Beach is named for L. Daniel Larsen, once the manager of the Kilauea Sugar Plantation. Locals have long used Larsen’s Beach to harvest edible seaweed, limu, from its fringing reef. Many tourists, meanwhile, are unaware of this pretty beachfront or turned off by the mildly complicated access.

That access comes via a dirt road off the Kuhio Highway marked by a “Beach Access” sign west of Moloaa Road. Just shy of a mile, this track leads to a small parking area. The original access path for Larsen’s Beach, easy and gentle, has been fenced off by the private landowner, to the consternation of many longtime users of this place. You can still reach Larsen’s Beach by foot, but the current trail is a steeper, rougher affair negotiating a cliffy slope.

The lengthy beach, flanked by greenery on one side and reef-ruffled surf on the other, is a stunner. You’ll rarely find Larsen’s Beach terribly crowded, and even when you are sharing it with some other folks, it’s easy to find your own shady hangouts with plenty of elbow room.

Larsen’s Beach is one of a number on Kauai that, all things considered, are best enjoyed from the sand itself. The waters here are on the shallow and rocky side for swimming, and furthermore, there are some dangerous currents—including the notorious rips of the Pakala Channel. This breach in the reef lies near the outcrop called Pakala Point that essentially divides Larsen’s Beach in half, and waters surge offshore through it. 

These and other treacherous flows aren’t always visually apparent from shore. That, coupled with the fact that there aren’t any lifeguards here and the general remoteness of the oceanfront, makes Larsen’s Beach one of the more notorious on Kauai: There have been quite a few drownings here, so don’t take chances.

Snorkeling is a bit more feasible, so long as you stay away from the vicinity of the Pakala Channel and seek out the more protected nearshore spots. But the high, roiled surf of winter is best avoided.

But hanging out on this quiet beach, which feels worlds away from the more thronged shores of Kauai, is worth it even if you steer clear of the water. And early birds will appreciate the knockout sunrises that can be relished from this northeasterly vantage!

Insider Tips:
-A heads-up for the more prudish: Some visitors treat Larsen’s as a nude beach, so be prepared to see a bit more skin than you’d prefer.
-Hawaiian monk seals often haul out at Larsen’s Beach, surely appreciating the relative peace and quiet. Don’t approach these endangered marine mammals (found nowhere else but the Hawaiian archipelago)—enjoy them from a distance so you’re not stressing them out.