Lucy Wright Park

Lucy Wright Beach Park – See Where Captain James Cook Landed While Enjoying Superb Views
Local Expert's Rating:
4 / 5
The Bottom Line:

Whether you’re a history buff or just love the waterfront, Lucy Wright Beach Park is well worth a visit. This South Shore Kauai park has gone downhill recently, so plan to jet on over, soak in the views, and head back out. Camping with a permit is allowed, but not recommended since there are many better spots on the island.

- The Local Expert Team

Although Lucy Wright Beach Park has gone downhill over the years, its rich history and gorgeous sights keep people coming back time and time again. Well-known as the spot where Captain James Cook landed in 1778, this South Shore beach speaks to the way adventure opens the door to endless opportunities. Despite its history, the park actually got its name from the first native Hawaiian school teacher who helped build up the Waimea Community.

 As for the sights, the beach runs along the southern shores of the island right where the Waimea River empties into the ocean. So, whether you’re looking out over the Waimea Bay or back toward the river and its surrounding landscape, the views are endlessly impressive. Even the beach sand is well worth a close look as it features a mix of green olivine stones, white seashells, and black lava rock from the Waimea Canyon.

While the beauty of Lucy Wright Park is wholly apparent at first glance, the park itself sits in a state of sad disrepair. As a choice spot for the houseless community, the beach sits covered in trash and debris more often than not. The bathrooms usually look like a mess as well, making it difficult to spend any length of time here. Beyond all that, unlike the many other beaches on the island, this one doesn’t have a chill vibe. In fact, it can feel outright menacing while traveling alone and camping with a permit through the night.

If you end up feeling comfortable while along Lucy Wright Park, you’re welcome to kick back and stay awhile. Just be sure to avoid going into the water for swimming because it’s rather rough and murky, especially at the mouth of the river. Instead, people often swing by for a bit of fishing or surfing when the conditions are just right.

The most popular activities at Lucy Wright Park include:

Go for a Sandy Stroll
Since not very many people spend time on this beach, it’s perfect for a quiet stroll along the sandy shores. If you time it just right, you can watch the sunrise or sunset bathe the sky in a brilliant array of hues. As you walk, watch for signs of marine life in the waters, like dolphins and sea turtles, which often flit by at a leisurely clip.

Try to Catch the Big One
If you’d like to drop your line in the water in hopes of landing the big one, you’re welcome to try your luck in the mouth of the river or along the oceanfront. Either way, you have a good chance at catching brackish water fish, like ladyfish, kawakawa, and brown trout. Want even more fishing fun? Head to the Waimea State Recreation Pier just to the west of the park.

Give Surfing a Go
If you’re an advanced surfer, you might like to try your hand at riding the waves to simply say you’ve hit up all the Kauai beaches. When the conditions are just right, the murky waters will have you soaring along the surface, letting you practice all your skills in style.  

Since Lucy Wright Park does not see much action each day, there are no lifeguards on duty. As a result, if you go in the water, you’ll be on your own if anything goes wrong. Without many visitors on the beach, there’s no one to call for help when you need it most either. So, it’s often best to find a different beach for your water sports and overall explorations.

Insider Tips:
-If you do want to camp at this beach, you can make your reservations and get your permit through the Hawaii State Parks website. You’re welcome to reserve your spot up to one year ahead of time.
-The beach does not have much shade, so bring an umbrella if you’re going to kick back and stay awhile.