SMMH – Best Beaches for Kids, Surfing, and Relaxing!

This is a guest post by Alex Salkever of  Original posts are linked within content.

Best Beaches for Kids in Hawaii: Anini Beach, Kauai [Original post.]

Here’s one of my favorite beaches in the islands for kids. Shallow waters in the near shore area, clear and cool, sandy bottoms are nice on the footsies. The far side of the beach is pretty much isolated with no hotels in sight and no buildings.

Kalapaki Beach, Nawiliwili Harbor [Original post.]

Here’s the latest in our series of beach lists from John Clark, the noted Hawaii beach expert and all around beach nut, will be feeding us his extremely informed take on beaches around Hawaii. You can buy his books at the University of Hawaii Press for a much more in-depth look.

Kalapaki Beach, Nawiliwili Harbor: “It’s a shallow sand bar break that’s easy to paddle to. It’s very mellow. A lot of bodyboarders and longboarders go there. Its right in the corner of the bay where the Kauai Marriott sits. It’s inside the harbor so that means the waves don’t get really big at all. It most probably breaks on a South or an East swell. Kalapaki doesn’t get any waves from the North. When its good, its a good, fun waves and people really have a good time, going both left and right. On bigger days you can see people surfing outside at Ammonias.”

Image via

Canoes [Original post.]

“This is the classic, traditional beginners surf spot for Hawaii. That’s where everybody went from the beginnings of surfing to learn how to surf, from Hawaiian royalty to Duke Kahanamoku. Canoe’s is really wide, probably as wide as a football field if not longer. It has a very flat shallow reef that’s quite forgiving both inside and outside. Everybody learns inside at Baby Canoes to start and then they move outside. When it starts getting overhead and bigger, the current does move around depending on the swell direction. It’s not necessarily a great place to learn on a really big swell as the waves even close to the beach can be strong. The currents can ether pulling towards the sandbar in front of the Royal Hawaiian hotel or drift over towards Populars, which is further outside. There are city Lifeguards on the beach and its quite well patrolled. A good portion of Canoes is a sand bottom break and the better waves definitely break further outside, although even those waves are pretty friendly to beginners. The crowds are extremely mellow, although it does get crowded. The better surfers expect to see beginners there so no one loses their cool. All of the surfboard concessions are there and its the place the original Waikiki Beachboys offered lessons. You can go to rent surfboards, usually $20 or $25 for two hours, meet the beach boys, and get a surf lesson. It’s also one of the only places in Hawaii where visitors can try canoe surfing. The Beachboys will take a group of total newbies out and have them dropping into waves in big outrigger canoes. It’s pretty wild.”

Image via Flickr/tiarescott

Inside Puena Point [Original post.]

Photo: harveykori

“This spot fronts Haleiwa Beach park. There’s a ton of parking and bath room and the like — a plus. There is an outside break a steep right that goes into the edge of the boat channel. That’s not for beginners. As you come inside, though, the waves reform and the reef gets shallow enough to put out little rollers. Beginners can spread out and catch waves in a number of places along that reform. The inside break is mostly left so it carries you towards the beach. It’s flat rock bottom but nothing sticks up, really. It’s just like Canoes in Waikiki. You can really pack people in and people don’t get too bunched up. The wave picks up a North or Northwest swell but won’t show much on an East swell. This is where the surf schools like Surf-n-Sea take their pupils. I’ve almost never seen it get too big or scary for beginners, It’s really protected.”

Haleiwa Beach Park Map (Not to be confused with Haleiwa Alii Beach Park, which is across the harbor)

West Side

“The beach is called White Plains for obvious reasons. It’s really white and bright. There is half reef and half sand. The break is virtually identical to Canoes, the traditional learning spot in Waikiki. In fact, some people call it the “Waikiki of the West Side.” There are lefts and rights and peaks all over the place. It can hold 100 people and everyone will still be scattered and getting lots of waves. The wave will break up to half mile offshore and it just keep breaking and reforming. White Plains will pick up a South swell, a North wrap, or a West swell — basically everything but an East swell. The peaks move around a bit depending on the swell direction. It’s maintained by the Navy so its in much better shape than the county or state parks around the islands. There are lifeguards on duty in the day time and even surfboard racks. A lot of schools take their students out here so you’re definitely not alone. There is a surfboard rental concession but they are only for military, even though the general public enjoys full access to the beach. The rides are quite long. On a really big day the longboarders try to catch it from the outside and come all the way in. The crowds are really mellow. The waves generally get up to headhigh and that’s as big as it gets. There is a current on a big south swell that tends to pull steady to the West. There are a couple of Hawaiian monk seals (a rare endangered species) that have adopted that beach and beach themselves frequently. They pop up right there where you are surfing and haul out right on the beach.”

Image via Hawaii Surfboard Rentals

Explore more here.

About the Author

Alex Salkever is the Founder of Hawaiirama–a real time travel guide for the Hawaiian Islands–and has lived in Hawaii since 1994.  He was formerly a technology editor at and has written travel articles for a wide variety of publications including Conde Nast Traveler, Travel & Leisure , Wired , Outside , the Washington Post , and Sunset Magazine.

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