Poipu Beach is the best beach for kids on Kauai's south shore!
Poipu Beach is high on Sydney's fave list because of it's enclosed swimming area that has tons of little fish swimming in it and crabs running all over the rocks, AND the Hawaiian Monk seals that seem to make their home on a little island by the beach.
Click here for an awesome satellite map of Poipu Beach
The "pool" area is pretty big, but it is not very deep, mostly 3-5 feet or so. This makes it a really fun place for the kids to swim, and because of all the rock formations in the shallow water, it's a great place for adults to get an introduction to snorkeling.
Farther out by the edge of the pool, bigger waves get broken up by the protective rock breakwater, but come splashing over and make Sydney feel awfully brave by weathering the rushing water and the spray.
The beach area is really nice with a grassy area on a rise above the sand, but the sand itself is not the light, fluffy
sand. It's pretty coarse, and has lots of sharp little rocks in it. Because of the rocks both in the sand and hiding under the water, this is a great beach for using watershoes!
There's also a decent playground on the east end of the park where the kids can take a break from swimming and climb around.
There are enough fish swimming in the pool to make it fun for the kids to snorkel. There are schools of small silvery fish that race around close to the shore, and Sydney was convinced that she could “catch” them with her hands. Not being one to discourage such conviction, I joined her in a fishing expedition that eventually landed us nothing but fun and exhaustion.
The farther to the west (right) you go, the deeper and rougher the ocean becomes. This beach is actually kind of like two beaches semi-connected, and when you move toward the west side of the beach you can see a small “island” that is home to protected Hawaiian Monk seals.
On one visit way back in 2000, the little island was taped off because a Monk seal had just given birth to a new pup. Now, I'm no expert on seals, but I think the Hawaiian Monk seal is one of just two mammal species that are actually native to the Islands. So, that was a pretty big deal!
This seal hangs around on the beach, and then occasionally flops into the water and goes back to the island....There’s a couple that seem to make their home there.
Whenever the seals are around, the island is off-limits to swimmers, and although it’s clearly marked in several ways to “KEEP AWAY FROM THE SEALS”, you can hear the lifeguard on his bullhorn pretty much every hour telling some “nice” tourist or other to get the heck off, and leave the seals alone!
Also near the island, there is a channel that runs between the island and the beach, and although there are lots of warning signs, you should make sure not to get caught in the current that runs through it. It's pretty strong, and we've seen more than a couple of people get pulled around by it.
On our last visit, one woman and her kid were out on the island (which was clearly off limits at the time because the seals were ON it) and everyone else on the beach was watching her totally ignore the lifeguard.
He must have called through his bullhorn at least 3 times, asking her to get off the island. She would look back, and just completely disregard him. Finally, after she decided her kid had seen enough seal, she grabbed him and started heading back to the beach. She made it about 5 steps and then got caught in the channel current.
It pulled them around pretty good, and I couldn't help but notice that neither the lifeguard nor anyone else on the beach was really inclined to help them, although they were never in any real danger. After hiding my laughter from Sydney, I tried real hard to drum up some sympathy, even though it was so clearly marked, "Keep Away from the Seals," and "Danger, Don't Swim Here!"
Farther west past the island is the "other" part of Poipu Beach.A small rocky cove, and then another crescent of sandy beach that ends by the
Kauai Sheraton Resort.
Parking on the east end is plentiful, with a large lot within easy walking distance. There are shower and restroom facilities that are pretty clean, and I think it's the only south shore beach where a lifeguard is on duty.
If you get there early enough, prime beach space is readily available. We always take our beach tent when we go to Kauai, and although it’s easy to set up, the oftentimes windy conditions at Poipu make it rather funny to try to KEEP it up.
Again, Poipu Beach made Sydney’s fave list for the excellent swimming area, and the seals. Besides that, a
picnic lunch is only a short drive away. And that makes Poipu beach a FAMILY fave!
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