Located on Wailua Bay along Kauai’s eastern shore, Wailua Beach is a beautiful stretch of white sand about 1/2-mile long and up to 100 feet wide. This windward beach is part of Wailua River State Park and includes the rivermouth of the huge Wailua River.
There is no protective reef offshore and the beach is directly facing the often strong prevailing tradewinds, so Wailua Beach can often be too windy for swimming or even sunbathing. On many days, however, the beach provides an excellent place to relax and enjoy a beautiful Hawaiian day. Expert surfers and bodyboarders enjoy an offshore surfing break that often has large waves. A smaller surfing break near the Wailua rivermouth is often used for beginners and for surfing lessons. Outrigger canoe races are often held in this area and the Wailua River offers various activities from boat rides up the river to the Fern Grotto to kayaking, waterskiing, and hiking.
Swimming only when the water is very calm. Surfing, bodyboarding, and kitesurfing for experienced only. Sunbathing, beachwalks, fishing, outrigger canoe paddling. Boat rides, kayaking, and waterskiing in the Wailua River.
Locals often have picnics near the rivermouth or by the Wailua Bridge, enjoying the white sand beach and pleasant setting. On the southern end of the beach at the rivermouth are Hawaiian heiau (sacred places of worship) that date to ancient times. Beneath the sand, and uncovered only during some storms, are petroglyph carvings in the rocks. Wailua was home to many Hawaiian alii (royalty) before Western contact.
Need to Know
Wailua Beach can be very hazardous for swimming due to treacherous shorebreak waves and very strong currents which are caused by the beach’s exposure to the open sea, lack of a protecting reef, and proximity to the Wailua rivermouth. The water is often somewhat murky due to the river so this is not the best snorkeling beach. Only enter the water when the conditions are very calm and always stay close to shore. Never go in the ocean during times of high surf or rough seas.
Wailua Beach is reached by following Kuhio Hwy. (Hwy. 560) just past the intersection with Kuamoo Rd. (Hwy. 580) where you will see Wailua Beach across the road from the now defunct Coco Palms Resort. There is limited parking along the road but you can park across the street at Wailua River State Park or park behind the Shell gas station on Papaloa Road at the north end of the beach.