A short drive from Princeville Resort and our North Shore Kauai vacation rentals is the beautiful horseshoe shaped Moloa`a Beach. Hawaiian named for the “Matted Roots” that once grew thick close by, this peaceful Kauai beach has plenty of Kauai activities to enjoy.
Roadside Attraction: On the way here be sure to stop at Moloa`a Sunrise Juice Bar for smoothies. This popular cafe between mile posts 16 and 17 is your indication of where to turn on to Koolau Road.
From the juice bar it’s a short drive down a luscious thoroughfare cutting over domed hills and a series of switchbacks. The jungle canopy is thick and then opens into a series of glens and pastures. Look for the cutoff to Moloa`a Road and follow to the end. Parking is limited so arrive early in the day or late afternoon.
Hollywood Trivia at Moloa`a Beach.
Fans of the TV show Gilligan’s Island may recognize Moloa`a Beach. The pilot and first episode were both filmed here over four days in November 1963. The producers could not find a suitable boat on Kauai for the S.S. Minnow. They eventually found one with a broken engine in a Honolulu shipyard. It was lifted on to a barge and ended up at Moloa`a Beach for the filming.
Kauai Snorkeling and Swimming.
Snorkeling is good in the bay but do not swim out beyond its points. Best swimming is on the southwest side of the beach. There’s plenty of sand to park your towel and enjoy a secluded picnic. Moloa`a Beach is also perfect for Kauai sunsets with its light show of changing colors. The bay’s horseshoe shape helps to stop the swells in most directions. We suggest caution with currents sweeping out from the center.
Kauai Beach Tips.
Swimming at all north shore Kauai beaches is advised only during calm weather. Never swim out past the two points of Moloa`a Bay. There is no lifeguard on duty. Moloa`a Beach has the least amount of rain of any north shore Kauai beach. It is perfect for swimming, snorkeling, picnics, sunsets and being away from the crowds. In the past there was a well known Kauai hike between Moloa`a Bay and Larsen’s Beach. The trail is no longer advisable due to its steep and slippery slope.
Directions to Moloa`a Beach.
Located between Anahola Beach and Larsen’s Beach, you can exit from Highway 56 at Moloa`a Sunrise Juice Bar. Follow Koolau Road to Moloa`a Road and then park near the end.
If you have been to Moloa`a Beach or have Kauai beach tips, we invite you to share them below.
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.
elliott mantell says
Just reading this now. My son and I went in the middle of the bay today with what looked calm and before I knew it I was quite far out and not making any progress swimming in. A nice couple swam out with the yellow float and offered to help. I hadn’t known I was in trouble but they could sense it. My son had a boogie board and was doing ok and he refused any assistance
Thank you to the 2 who spotted us before we were trouble
Aloha Elliott, so glad to hear your son was okay. One always needs to be safe and it is nice to hear that people were willing to assist. The waters can be dangerous and always better to be safe than sorry.
tom m says
I have been living at Moloaa bay for the past 19 years, when the ocean is calm its safe but even with medium surf conditions it can be very dangerous. There has been at least 3 drownings I know of and every year several people get in trouble. Typically the south side (To the right) as you get close to the reef is fairly safe year around. The left side can be deceptive although you will see people sun bathing and dipping into the shore, but a few yards out there is a strong current. Also after a big rain the stream will turn the bay brownish and polluted. Best to stay out of the water until its clear again.
Mahalo Tom. We agree, safety and awareness is of the utmost importance.
christie eddy says
See you in February Tom Wayne and I have rented the house at the end with a few friends. Hope to get together. See in 50 days, Christie and Wayne
Jim Faulkenberry says
We just stayed nine days at a rental apartment a 2 minute walk from Moloa’a bay. We saw a lot of sunrises over the bay as it is on the East side of Kaua’i. The rip tide and sometimes high waves were a problem for swimming and snorkeling. We saw a monk seal one day and a few turtles. It was a lovely place to set and watch the ocean but I never felt comfortable swimming there.
We traveled to Port Allen on the island’s West side and took a sunset dinner cruise to Na Pali.
Robert J. Turcotte says
Truly a beautiful setting although parking is limited. The bay is deceptive in that the white water breaking over the coral to the right and left sides leaves what appears to be calm water directly in the center (to the left of the stream). Be AWARE, there is a significant rip-tide. On Christmas day, 1986, my new bride and I were on that beach early. Later a couple (from Minnesota or Wisconsin) arrived and camped toward the right of the beach. When my wife returned from snorkeling between the sand and the coral on the left side of the bay, we heard calls from help. The couple from the mid-west had chosen to enter the water at that mid-point and were out toward the center of the bay. Neither my wife, with earplugs in her ears while snorkeling, or I, listening to a Walkman, had heard their initial cries for help. Luckily, we had rented a boogie board. I paddled out to them (both exhausted trying to swim back into the rip-tide) and, pushing the boogie board ahead of me so they could rest on it, I told them that I would take them in, but over the coral on the right side of the bay. They initially resisted, wanting to go back into the “calm” water but, as I was then treading water and we were continually getting pushed out to sea, they agreed when I told them I was going in, with or without them and, hopefully, they would be found later, as my wife had gone for help. Although we were scratched up some on the coral, all three of us came in safely. They told us later that they were “bouncing up and down off the sandy bottom” in the “calm” water and didn’t know how far out they were until they noticed they couldn’t touch the bottom anymore.
The trail to Larsen’s Beach was available a that time. We had walked over to the underwater shelf where we saw many sea turtles.