Step onto Wailua Beach during your Kauai vacation rental stay and you are on a choice piece of land where the Polynesians first arrived and that Hawaiian Ali`i (royalty) later made their own. Native Hawaiians consider this area to be one of the most sacred and culturally significant places in the islands. During low surf you can still find petroglyphs carved on boulders and see the remains of an ancient Hawaiian heiau (sacred temple) at the southern most point.
In modern times this Kauai beach welcomed the most prominent entertainers, politicians and royalty of the 1950’s and 1960’s who stayed across from here at the historic Coco Palms Hotel. This is also the Kauai beach where Frank Sinatra was rescued during his attempt to save another life. More on that later.
Wailua means “Two Waters” in Hawaiian and is heralded by the swaying fronds of extra tall royal palms. You will find this half mile stretch of sand at the mouth of the only navigable river in the State of Hawaii, the Wailua River. The coastal Kauai Path now runs next to the beach for easy access on foot or bike.
This Kauai beach is popular with surfers and boogie boarders who like the unprotected waves. There is no reef here so swimmers need to use caution due to strong rip currents and shore breaks. Since this is where the Wailua River empties, the water tends to be murky.
Wailua Beach is a great place to stop for a picnic and there are many Wailua River activities close by. These include the Fern Grotto and paddling in a rented Kauai kayak. Also nearby is a Kauai hiking adventure at Sleeping Giant Mountain.
Visit Lae Nani: On the north end you will find Lae Nani beach with its rock protected pool for small children. The public access is across from the Shell station just after the stretch of beach along the highway. You can also see Hawaii turtles.
Hollywood Trivia at Wailua Beach: When Frank Sinatra was on Kauai in 1964 to film None But The Brave, he swam out to rescue a friend at Wailua Beach and instead got pulled out to sea in a rip current. A rescue team from the Kapaa fire station got there in time with just minutes to spare. Sinatra always felt that the people of Kauai brought good luck to him and was a frequent guest at The Coco Palms Hotel. Years earlier when his career was at a low point, he performed at the Kauai County Fair and soon after was cast in the movie From Here To Eternity which earned him an Academy Award.
Kauai Beach Tips at Wailua Beach
Facilities: No lifeguard, restrooms or picnic tables.
Caution: Swimming not advised nor Kauai snorkeling due to currents. No lifeguard on duty.
Driving Directions to Wailua Beach
Follow Kuhio Highway (Hwy 560) just past the intersection with Kuamoo Road. Wailua Beach is across from what’s left of the Coco Coco Palms Hotel. There is limited parking along the highway and also at Wailua River State Park. To reach Lae Nani or the north end of the beach, park across the street from the Shell gas station.
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.