Moloaa Beach

Moloa'a Beach: Beautiful Horseshoe Beach on Kaui’s Northeastern Coast
Local Expert's Rating:
4 / 5
The Bottom Line:

Quiet Moloaa Beach is set in a gorgeous, horseshoe-shaped bay well known for its Gilligan’s Island connections, not to mention some truly dreamy scenery. Rarely crowded, this beach on Kauai’s northeastern shore is a great spot for lounging, strolling, and shelling, and in calm conditions—and when exercising plenty of caution—can be a good place for swimming and snorkeling.

- The HawaiianIslands.com Local Expert Team

Moloaa Beach forms the wonderful sandy crescent edging Moloaa Bay on Kauai’s northeastern shore. Among this part of the coast’s more under-the-radar beaches, it’s a fantastic place to experience, with its scenic beauty, serene feel, and solid R&R and recreational opportunities.

Moloaa Bay creates a very distinctive little gouge on the northeastern coast of Kauai, readily picked out on maps or satellite images. On the ground, the horseshoe-shaped indentation is a truly beautiful spot, with green, partly wooded slopes dropping to sandy dunes and the arcing strand. This served as the backdrop for some of the first episodes of the classic TV show Gilligan’s Island, with Moloaa Bay harboring the production’s “shipwreck” back in 1963. 

Whether you’re a TV buff or just somebody keen on experiencing some of that one-of-a-kind, paradise-caliber Kauai beachfront, Moloaa Beach is definitely worth your time. It’s reached off the Kuhio Highway north of Anahola: Around mile marker 20, hang a right on Koolau Road to reach Moloaa Road; pull-offs and a small parking area provide beach access. Parking usually isn’t an issue during the week, when the beach is pretty uncrowded, but weekend visits may require parking a bit farther off and walking in.

The Moloaa Stream runs into Moloaa Bay here, forming a natural partition of the Moloaa beachfront. It’s easy enough to ford this stream to visit both sections, but wear proper footwear for walking over some rocky substrate. 

The corners of Moloaa Bay are fairly sheltered and offer decent swimming and snorkeling, but beware of the center of the bay with its strong currents: More than a few people have found themselves pulled offshore here. When the surf’s particularly rough—as it often is during the winter—it’s safest to steer clear of the water altogether and just focus on hanging out and strolling on the inviting sands. Beachcombers and shellers can have a heyday here, as can surf-casters.

There aren’t any facilities or lifeguards at Moloaa Bay, so bring food, water, and other essentials with you. 

Snorkelers may spot sea turtles in Moloaa Bay—always a treat. Every once in a while a Hawaiian monk seal cruises through as well.

The Moloaa Coastal Trail gives you the option of hoofing it from Moloaa Beach to Larsen’s Beach to the northwest, another generally quiet, quite fetching stretch of seashore.

After you’ve taken in Kauai’s famous, popular, and easily accessible beaches, it’s a joy to seek out some of the lesser-known, more tranquil ones. Moloaa Beach is definitely one of those!

Insider Tip:
Heavy rains can cause quite a bit of runoff in the Moloaa Stream emptying into Moloaa Bay. If the stream or the bay waters look muddy, stay out of the water or at least use caution if taking a dip: There may be logs, branches, and other washed-out debris in the waves.