The drive from Kapaa to Kilauea is one of Kauai’s most scenic routes. Here are four great stops to check out along the way. And when you’re done, let PlacePass help you plan the rest of your stay while on the island.
DISTANCE: 13 miles
DURATION: 2-3 hours
1. Kealia Beach
Just past mile marker 10, this long, golden sand beach teeming with surfers is visible from the highway. A dirt parking lot just past a lifeguard stand at the northern end provides access to the most sheltered part of the beach. Swimmers are advised to stay within the protective breakwater while seasoned body boarders and surfers battle the giant waves. Don’t forget to book a surf lesson if you want in on the action!
2. Donkey Beach
Named after the pack animal once used in the nearby plantations, this beach was once Kauai’s most popular unofficial nude beach but has since lost that status due to police crackdowns. A half mile past mile marker 11, a short, unmarked driveway leads to a small parking lot. From here, the beach is a shady 10 minute walk. The waves come fast, so swimmers stay close to shore; incredibly strong breaks challenge even experienced surfers.
A sleepy little community inhabited mostly by Native Hawaiians, Anahola’s major attraction is its mile-long stretch of family-friendly surf. Immediately after mile marker 14, the first Aliomanu Road (southern branch) leads to the northern half of Anahola Beach Park. Most residents favor the more protected waters of the southern end, accessible from Anahola Road between mile markers 13 and 14. Camping is available here with a permit every day except Thursdays.
4. Koolau Road
When you turn right onto Koolau Road, you’ll find yourself on a narrow country road flanked by working farms and leafy plantations. Koolau Road forms a loop whose ends connect to Highway 56, where two of the area’s prettiest beaches await. On the south end is Moloaa Beach, which hides behind a wall of secluded homes. To get there, turn right on the first Koolau Road between mile marker 16 and 17, turn onto Moloaa Road toward the beach, and and drive one mile. Keep to the left, and park on the left near the end of the road. Walk to the right, to the southern end, where the daunting waves give way to gentle swells. Larsen’s Beach can be reached from a road about one mile south of the point where Koolau Road intersects Highway 56, heading toward the ocean. A “beach access” post marks the turn onto the dirt road, which leads to a trail to the beach. Kauai is has some amazing snorkeling (we recommend a tour for the best experience), and snorkelers will enjoy clear waters during the calm summer months; at other times, a strong rip current can make the waters unsafe.