After a few days exploring local boutique shops and checking out the best snorkeling spots, you and your spouse are ready to find a private hideaway where you can enjoy sun, sand and the ultimate in tropical relaxation. It’s time to seek out Kauapea, the secret beach of Kauai.

kauapea secret beach long shot view

Finding the Kauapea Secret Beach

Kauapea Beach, known as Kauai’s Secret Beach, is located on the north shore of the island. The beautiful beach is hidden from the highway, which helps keep the beach secret and provides seclusion that’s hard to find elsewhere. Most visitors don’t even know Secret Beach exists, making it one of Kauai’s best hidden treasures.

Situated halfway between Kilauea Point and Kalihiwai Bay, this secluded beach is easily accessible by a steep unmarked trail off an unpaved road. The hike takes just 10 minutes or so, but the short trail can be dangerously slick as well as a bit steep, so slip on your hiking boots or sneakers to make it down. Also keep in mind that your return journey includes coming back up the same path, which may be more difficult than the trip down to the beach.

You can find the road by following Kuhio Highway past Kilauea and then making a turn onto Kalihiwai Road. The beach entrance is at the first dirt road off Kalihiwai Road. There isn’t an official parking lot, so most beachgoers park on the side of the dirt road before hiking down to the beach. Since few visitors go to Secret Beach, roadside parking is usually plentiful.

Natural Features of Secret Beach

At 3,000 feet long, Secret Beach offers plenty of opportunity to find a spot where you can feel like it’s just you, your spouse and the beauty of the Hawaiian Islands. High cliff walls, a seemingly endless expanse of soft sand, lush vegetation and a lack of heavy beach traffic make it easy to find a private escape once you hike down to the shore.

On the east side of Secret Beach, a small waterfall flows down into a compact pool to offer a hint of freshwater relaxation in the midst of a sandy expanse. While the waterfall varies in size depending on the amount of rainfall and the season of the year you visit, it typically has enough of a flow to make a great natural shower after a hike over the steep trail leading to the beach or an afternoon frolicking in the sand. The Kilauea lighthouse is visible from the east end of the beach, providing scenic views.

The west end of Secret Beach features tidal lagoons and tide pools that appear as the tide goes out. These pools are accessible via a walk along lava rocks that dot the coast at low tide during good weather days in the summer months. In the winter, the tidal lagoons may be inaccessible, but there’s still plenty to see at the west end of the beach. A tall wall of lava rock offers a gorgeous backdrop for time spent lounging on the sand gazing at the wide expanse of the Pacific Ocean.

Wildlife Watching from Kauapea Beach

Kauai’s Secret Beach offers a few unique opportunities for wildlife spotting. Whales and dolphins can often be seen just offshore during the summer months, and you can view the rocky outcrop of Moku’ae’ae island, an official bird sanctuary, from shore.

As the water recedes and tidal lagoons form during low tide, plenty of shells are left behind, making shell hunting a popular activity at Secret Beach. Take a romantic walk along the shore searching for the perfect memento of your Kauai island vacation, or spend the afternoon relaxing on a blanket enjoying a picnic lunch while watching the waves for hints of marine wildlife.

kauapea secret beach - white foamy waves on a rocky seashore

Getting Into the Water at Secret Beach

Like many areas on the North Shore, Secret Beach isn’t ideal for swimming during the winter months. Rough waves and notoriously difficult ocean conditions along this stretch of beach make safe swimming difficult during winter. Swimming conditions during the summer months are less treacherous, but the beach has no lifeguards or public facilities to accommodate swimmers. Rough conditions can develop any time of year, so only experienced swimmers should enter the water. Other nearby beaches may be better for swimming or snorkeling, so reserve your time at Kauapea Beach for admiring the sweeping ocean views, lush vegetation and impressive cliffs.

Even if you’re visiting during the winter, there are plenty of alternatives to swimming at Kauapea Beach. Take a long walk along the entire length of the beach to enjoy the natural landscape of Kauai’s North Shore, or simply relax on the sand listening to the waves of the ocean crash onto the sand. Experienced surfers sometimes come to Secret Beach on the North Shore of Kauai to test their skills on the wild waves just offshore, so you might get a front-row seat to some impressive surfing action.

The Clothing Optional North Shore Beach

At the far eastern end of Secret Beach, the end closest to Kilauea lighthouse, sunbathers often strip down to the bare essentials, making this area an unofficial nude beach. While nude beaches — along with any form of public nudity — are not technically legal on Kauai, the isolation of Kauapea on this hidden stretch of the North Shore makes it an ideal location for a not-precisely-official topless or clothing optional beach. If you’re not interested in joining the nude sunbathers on Secret Beach, you can always enjoy the soft sand while wearing a swimsuit or casual clothes — or just stick to the west side of the beach for fully clothed adventures.

Whether you’re looking for a special beach experience where you and your spouse feel like the only people around or just want to explore a place that many locals consider their island’s best-kept secret, a day trip to Kauapea Beach fits your requirements. Call 808-240-6600 to start planning your ultimate tropical getaway at Koloa Landing Resort.