Tiny waves for tiny feet: Kauai’s most kid-friendly beaches

by Michele Bigley on April 30, 2010

Lava rocks at Lydgate Beach Park create kid-friendly swimming areas

Picture it now, the swaying palm trees and crystalline sand along the United States’ most clandestine stretch of the Pacific. The sun beats on your back, the water beckons. Then CRASH. An epic swell crushes your hopes of letting your tot (or even yourself) touch more than a toe in the warm seas.

But don’t scratch Kauai off your safe swimming vacation lists just yet. The locals here have a long held respect for the ocean, so in order to give their little keikis a way to cool off, they’ve constructed enclosed swimming areas using that oh-so-useful lava rock. Although some beaches still need to be admired from afar, here are three kid-friendly beaches for you and the kids to enjoy.

1) Lydgate Beach Park

Quite possibly the crowning glory of the Kauai community, Lydgate Beach Park promises plenty of safe swimming opportunities. Strewn along the eastern shores of the island, this park attracts joggers and dog walkers along the beachside trail (it stretches for miles), picnickers, sunbathers, and oodles of kiddos. And the community spirit is alive here: Kauai people designed the magnificent playground just steps from the sand, and then spent a weekend constructing it together. Plus, the swimming hole ”cornered off” by lava rocks makes nascent swimmers, teeny tots and tropical-fish-spotting snorkelers feel both safe and warm. It’s like a pool in the ocean! Stay nearby at the Castle Kaha Lani Resort.

2) Poipu Beach Park

Probably the most crowded beach on the island, the ever sunny Poipu Beach Park has plenty of fans for a good reason. Great weather, a shave ice truck, nearby bathrooms, a playground, a restaurant, and even some decent surf — what more could you want? Now throw in a warm, enclosed swimming area where you can watch waves pass and swim within feet of monk seals, and surely you can see the allure. Stay nearby at Koa Kea Resort Hotel, Sheraton Kauai Resort, or Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa.

3) Salt Pond Park

Further west, on the sunny south side of the island, hidden in a salt harvesting region is the aptly named Salt Pond Park. Popular with resting monk seals and sea turtles, plus local picnickers and lap swimmers, this shady (and grassy) beach proves to be a lovely spot to spend a day. As long as you stay away from the monk seals, you can have most of the lava rock enclosed swimming area to yourself. Some of the closest hotels are Koa Kea Resort Hotel, Sheraton Kauai Resort, or Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa.

If you find yourself tempted to brave the swells at other beaches, be sure to check the surf report. And follow the local mantra, If in doubt, don’t go out. Happy swimming!

For more information, check out the Kauai Explorer website.

-Michele Bigley of Michele Bigley’s Kauai Musings

[Photo credit: TheNickster/Flickr]

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