Maha'ulepu is a truly wild and unique landscape unlike any other on Kaua'i. This remote coastline has incredible views punctuated by lithified sand dune sea cliffs and lava rock outcroppings crumbling into the bright blue sea. The wind swept landscape holds treasures for those ready for a little adventure and an escape into nature.
AT A GLANCE:
HIGHLIGHTS: Close to Po'ipu, but world's away, this unique and stark landscape has several small beaches and hiking along the coast with spectacular views.
ACTIVITIES: Swimming, hiking, beach lounging and picnics
WARNINGS! The coast here is wild and unmonitored so no warnings are posted regarding potential hazards. If you look careful along the coastal areas there are some small protected pools and inner beach zones protected by outer reef from waves. If you choose to take a swim, stick close to shore and avoid sharps rocks onshore and in the shallows underwater.
Maha'ulepu is an area of amazing natural beauty, at one point there was even talk of making this area a State Park back in the 1990's, and it is understandable once you make your way out to the end of the long dirt road. This area is the most remote outpost of ocean access on Kauai's South Shore. The dirt and gravel access road remains rough but passible with slow and careful driving. It will take 20 to 30 minutes to make your way to the parking areas. Do not attempt the drive after heavy rains as the road has poor drainage.
Maha'ulepu has 3 beaches separated by small forests and dunes lining the coastline. The first is called "Gillin's Beach" and is accessed from a small dirt parking area, by walking a 150 yards trail that winds through a forested dune. The coastline here has outer reef breaking up the surf and protecting the near shore waters close to the beach. There is some wrapping cross current in the area so avoid going too far out. The sand at this location is fine and golden brown setting a contrast against a bright aqua blue ocean. Though not very wide, the beach stretches approximately a mile in each direction. It is easy to walk down a short distance and have a spot on the beach to yourself.
The next area to explore starts at the second parking lot at roads end. This is Kawailoa Bay with a small crescent beach to the right, and a cove on the left with shallow tidal pools. The scene resembles the location where a pirate crew might land for some shaded rest and relaxation.
The beach at Kawailoa Bay is tucked in amongst the trees and more sheltered from winds and it is a short walk from parking to lounging on the sand. For those seeking a little more adventure with a view, put on some sturdy walking shoes and follow the trail along the coast.
A trail starts from the left side of the beach that wraps along the coastline by several small blowholes. These are under ground caves connected to the ocean, as waves flow into the caves air is compressed and blasts from cracks in the ground resulting in a breathing sound. It is a unique phenomenon to witness. The trail continues out to Pao'o Point, a prominent position providing a far-reaching view of the jagged coastline. Ha'ula Beach is visible to the far left of the view and is reachable by following the inland branch of the trail. Ha'ula faces into the predominant wind of the area and has a fascinating collection of cast away objects and ocean debris. The view is spectacular of the Ha'upu Mountain and the ocean blue is pure heaven, but the wind quickly pushes the wise back to the more protected areas for longer lounging.
Closest town: Po'ipu/Koloa
Driving to Po'ipu: Take Kaumualii Highway/ HI-route 50 to Poipu and follow the signs for "Poipu/ Koloa" turning at Maluhia Road/ HI-route 520. Follow this road for several miles until you see a sign for the Koloa By-Pass aka Ala Konoiki Road follow this road several miles to its end. At the stop sign turn left and look for the Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort on the right, and continue further as the paved road turns to gravel then dirt. Best to drive slowly in this unmaintained road section, follow the road until it comes to a "T" intersection with left turn gated. Turn right and continue on to the 1st or second parking areas. Be aware that the gate closes every evening at 6 pm.