I don’t know why, but I find the name Donkey Beach to be hilarious. The first thing that comes to mind when I hear donkey beach though is NOT what I actually discovered when I actually made it to the gorgeous sands of this super underrated beach.
The name comes from donkeys that used to haul sugar from nearby fields and not something more random.
The actual name for this beach is Paliku Beach, but more commonly it is called Donkey Beach.
You will even find it listed that way in your GPS. This gorgeous beach is usually almost empty, which is likely due to it requiring a .4 mile walk from the parking lot and the usually aggressive waves that make swimming unsafe.
Previously this was known as a nude beach, but if you are looking for the Kauai nude beach scene this isn’t it. If instead you are looking for a picturesque beach to relax and enjoy the waves on, then this could be it.
Donkey Beach Quick Facts:
- Other Names: Paliku Beach
- Known For: Low crowds, intimate feel, and intense waves
- Facilities: Restrooms in parking lot
- Lifeguards: No
- Parking: Free, though you have to hike .4 miles from the lot to the beach
- Cost: Free
- Other: no longer a nudist beach/not great for swimming, need to do a cool .4 mile hike to get there
Donkey Beach Location
Donkey Beach Kauai is on the east side of the island. It takes about 20 minutes to drive here from the airport, and it is just outside of the Kapaa resort area.
Donkey Beach Parking
Large parking lot. It was practically empty when we were there.
If you type Donkey Beach into your GPS you won’t actually get directed to the necessary parking lot. Instead it will take you to a gate community.
To access the public parking lot drive further north about a quarter of a mile. You will see a public parking lot and restrooms immediately to the side.
Park in this lot and follow the trail down to the beach.
The trail is about .4 miles long and takes you through a pretty cool looking tree canopied walkway.
Almost No Crowds
I’ve been to this beach twice, and one time I had it completely to myself and the other time there was a couple that played nice when I arrived, but I know they were upset to no longer have the beach to themselves.
In fact, I saw more of the famous stray Kauai chickens strolling around the beach than I did people.
NOT a Nude Beach
Historically this was known as a nude beach, but as the area developed they began enforcing the law more and more.
Now it is not known as a nude beach at all, and the local property owners that have views of the beach would likely discourage that type of behavior.
Strong Waves And Currents
Very often the waves will be too intense for you to swim at this beach. We splashed along the shore and dove and dodged the waves a bit which was fun, but I wouldn’t have felt comfortable going all the way in on the two times I visited.
Is Donkey Beach worth visiting?
Absolutely! Like a lot of beaches on the east side of Kauai the frequent danger around swimming makes it less popular.
I loved escaping the crowds to this gorgeous beach even if I could only play in the waves in the shallow water.
I’m willing to sacrifice getting all the way in for the ability to have some sun and solitude!
WHAT TO PACK FOR KAUAI
- Dresses – Packing a few good dresses is essential for Hawaii. Dresses have become my go to on trips to help quickly put an outfit together. Revolve is one of my go to shops for beach dresses. ASOS also has great summer dresses.
- Shorts – Anyone who is traveling to Hawaii needs a good pair of shorts. Khakis are great for guys. For women, cute athletic shorts or denim shorts are perfect for a breezy summertime look. These Levi denim shorts are my current favorites! These high waisted athletic shorts have gone viral on instagram and for good reason, they are AMAZING.
- Sandals – LOVE these Teva’s! They are my new go to travel sandal. Shop my favorite Teva’s here. They are great to wear in the water snorkeling and also amazing for hiking in Hawaii.
- Sports bra – This SKIMS bra is the most comfortable sports bra you will ever wear! Trust me. I travel with 5 of them. Also, highly recommend checking out the SKIMS fits everybody bra is to die for as well.
- Tank tops – Free people is my go to place to buy cute and affordable tank tops. I have this tighten up tank in almost every color.
- Hat – essential. Shop the newest hats at Nordstrom.
- Beach cover-up – Having at least one good cover-up is essential on any beach trip. I recommend ASOS, Nordstrom and Revolve as well.
- Hiking boots – I have two pairs of hiking boots that I love. My Columbia waterproof boots and my Salomon hiking boots. Highly recommend checking them both out! Warning – they both sell out really quick.
- Tennis Shoes – I guess you could wear sandals hiking this trail but I would recommend tennis shoes. It can get narrow and slippery in parts. These Nike high tops are my current favs. They look so cute with shorts too!
- Packing cubes – I always go to Urban Outfitters for my packing cubes. They have the cutest ones!
- Quick Dry Travel Towel – This quick dry towel is amazing to travel with. It really will come in handy when you need extra room in your suitcase.
- Snorkeling gear – for obvious reasons.
Planning a trip to Kauai? Read everything we know about Kauai here:
My husband and I have been to Kauai many, many times and have written up more guides to help you plan your trip. These are my most popular blog posts and Kauai travel guides to help you plan your trip.
Best Beaches for Snorkeling on Kauai
- TUNNELS BEACH IN KAUAI (amazing snorkeling, swimming, seals) – one of my personal favorite beaches own the entire island!
- KE’E BEACH ON KAUAI – great snorkeling, swimming, but you have to make reservation in advance – it was a nightmare.
- Hideaway’s Beach – Amazing snorkeling on the North Shore.
- Anini Beach – (Snorkeling, fishing, swimming) Great for basically everything.
- Kalapaki Beach in Kauai – Kids beach. Perfect beach for families, beginner snorkeling and swimming!
Best Cliff Jumping in Kauai
- SHIPWRECK BEACH ON KAUAI – Amazing cliff jumping beach
- QUEEN’S BATH KAUAI: COMPLETE GUIDE – Another must visit!
More awesome beaches
- MOLOA’A BEACH ON KAUAI – Insanely underrated. Giligans Island was filmed here. This beach was another one of my favorites. Practically empty.
- Lumaha’i Beach Kauai – What you need to know before going
- Secret Beach Kauai! (aka Kauapea beach) – MUST see beach!
- Haena Beach – We saw a Monk Seal on this beach!
- Gillin’s Beach – Fairly secluded beach where you can ride horses!
- Donkey Beach – Underrated – practically deserted beach
- Hanalei Beach – Gorgeous beach, perfect for sunsets.
- Salt Pond Beach Park – Amazing beach for kids and families (You can camp here as well)
- Black Pot Beach
Kauai Hiking Guides
- WAILUA FALLS HIKE ON KAUAI – AMAZING WATERFALL HIKE! Probably my favorite hike I have ever done.
- KALEPA RIDGE TRAIL – BEST HIKE IN HAWAII…SERIOUSLY. Trust me, don’t leave this one off your list! It’s GORGEOUS!
- MAKALEHA TRAIL – Amazing trail that is extremely muddy. 100% worth it!
- CANYON TRAIL TO WAIPO’O FALLS
- Pihea Trail – Easy hike on Kauai with Na’pali Coast Views!
- Makauwahi Cave Trail – Kauai Hidden gem
Read about all the hikes we have done in Kauai here.
Read all other posts on Kauai here.