Take a peek into the history of this Kauai beach that lured the first major oceanfront Kauai resort to its shores. While here on your Kauai vacation, enjoy its graceful half moon of golden sand and majestic views of the Hapu mountain ridge. Only five minutes from the airport, our Kauai vacation rental guests often make this their first or last beach stop. Located in Lihue, this beach is one reason the community was chosen by Smithsonian Magazine as one of the 20 Best Small Towns in America.
Kalapaki Beach History.
Hawaiians lived along its shores and Captain James Cook arrived here in 1778. Princess Ruth Keelikolani later sold most of Kalapaki to William Hyde Rice. A large section became the Lihue Ranch and his residence. Queen Liliuokalani attended a grand luau here in 1891 and during World War II this area survived a shelling. Another notable to grace this beach is legendary surfer Duke Kahanamoku who held a swimming demonstration at Nawiliwili. Fast forward to the 1960’s when the first resort opened, the Kauai Surf. It was replaced by the Westin in 1987 and then became the Kauai Mariott in 1995.
Kauai Beach Tips at Kalapaki.
The wave action is gentle at most times with long swells combing the sandy-bottomed beach. Kalapaki is best for swimming and stand up paddling, fair for snorkeling and a great place to try either body surfing or beginning with a board. You can rent beach equipment here, play volleyball, park yourself on a beach towel and find many places to eat from Duke’s Canoe Club to plate lunches and Hawaii Shave Ice.
Lap swimming is best just off shore. On the eastern side near the cliffs you’ll have calmer surf and more chance of seeing fish if you’re looking for Kauai snorkeling options.
Kalapaki Beach Amenities.
Best for: Swimming, surfing, walking and families.
Facilities: Public parking, showers, restrooms, beach rentals and food. No lifeguard.
Tip: Kalapaki Beach is the only place on Kauai where sailboats – Hobie Cats – are available to rent.
Driving Directions to Kalapaki Beach and Parking.
Located three miles from Lihue Airport at the bottom of Rice Street. Two parking options are available. You can drive into the Kauai Marriott entrance and turn right after passing the main building. Follow Shoreline Access signs to the large parking lot. Another option is next to Anchor Cove Mall where limited parking is available. From here you’ll walk across the stream to the sandy beach.
Bookmark our Kauai Beach Explorer to stay current on Kauai beaches and facilities. Watch our Kauai video with important ocean safety information. It’s six minutes of your time that can save your life or that of a loved one.