Dr. Beach And Beat of Hawaii Say Hanalei Bay is No. 1


Dr. Beach’s 2009 Top U.S. beach pick is Kauai’s renowned Hanalei Bay.

The selection of Hanalei Bay certainly comes as no surprise to us here at Beat of Hawaii, or to our readers.  This beautiful crescent-shaped jewel has been our own No. 1 beach year after year.  You’ll typically find me in the water there at least twice a week during summer for long-distance swimming.

Dr. Beach bases his selection on 60 criteria including water, sand, environmental quality, safety, services, and management.


Hanalei runs from mammoth waves in winter to complete tranquility in summer.  It is warm, clean and lush.  In the past few weeks the water clarity has been the best I can ever recall, such that you can literally look around and see a vast distance in nature’s own swimming pool.


The broad, soft, blond-sand beach stretches two miles and with its gentle slope into the water is perfect for long walks.


Hanalei Bay is quintessential Hawaii, pure and simple.  The backdrop is of majestic green mountains repleat with many waterfalls, and in the background, iconic Bali Hai also known as Makana.


  • Lifeguards
  • Showers and bathrooms (which are in need of renovation)
  • Picnic facilities with barbeques

If you’re at Hanalei Beach this summer and see me, be sure to give a “shout out.”


  1. Ryan Coon (6 years ago)

    In one of your recent blogs you mention swimming near Hanalei Bay. I will be visiting the island from May 30th until June 5th. Are you aware of any group swims on Kauai? I would love to get in some swimming in Hawaii but have never done an ocean swim (just lakes in Tennessee). Are there any other places you would recommend checking out (for swimming and other activities)? We will be staying at the Grand Hyatt. Thank you for posting such an informative blog!

    • Rob (6 years ago)

      Hi Ryan,

      I’m not aware of any group swims. You should be fine at Hanalei and if it makes you more comfortable, just get in right in front of one of the lifeguard stands. Likely the ocean conditions there will remind you of a lake. It is about an hour plus drive from the Hyatt. Check out Salt Pond beach too (the other direction) if you’re heading towards Waimea Canyon.

      Check the surf forecast first.

      Have a great time.