Polihale State Beach Park
This wild and wondrous white sand beach stretches up to the scenic cliffs of the Na Pali Coast. A "beach lovers' dream" this remote destination is a fantastic day trip for those looking to get away from it all, and just relax. The sands seem to go on endlessly inviting long walks and a sense of spaciousness. Polihale has the best sunsets on Kaua'i, with the western horizon providing a spectacular twilight show of colors as the sun melts into the ocean.
AT A GLANCE:
HIGHLIGHTS: A huge wide-open expansive beach, with sand dunes and cliffs framing a panoramic blue ocean view. Picnic pavilions, shelters, and multiple shower and restroom areas make this State Park at the end of the road a great destination for an ultimate beach day. Best ocean sunsets on Kaua'i!
ACTIVITIES: Long beach walks, picnics, and swimming when ocean is
WARNINGS! Swimming is not often safe here, nor recommended.
Due to hazardous rip currents and pounding surf, this beach can be very dangerous.
The remote unprotected nature of the beach also limits chances for a safe rescue.
Look to the local residents present for advice about the days' conditions, often a good indicator is whether the locals are letting their children swim. The furthest driving point into the park at the northern end of the beach is often the only calm section of the ocean. If in doubt, don't go out! Consider a visit MacArthur Beach Park in Kekaha where the closest county life guard tower is located for your safety.
AMENITIES: Ample parking, picnic benches with shelters, restrooms, and showers.
The Polihale State Park is almost 140 acres and has 7 miles of beach reachable by a long dirt road of 4.8 miles through agricultural fields. It will take you 25 to 30 minutes down this dirt road to reach the beach, so be prepared but know that it is worth the drive. Avoid the idea of rushing and speeding down this road, the "washboard" conditions make your rental car vibrate horribly making the road much more intense then it needs to be.
The scale of this beach is huge, the sand is light and soft as can be. At times the beach can be over 100 yards wide and provides epic beach photography opportunities with the striking contrast of cliffs in the background. The view can make a visitor reminiscent about what Hawaii beaches looked like before the days of coastal development. It is good to know the land here is protected as a State Park and will forever be left wild for generations to come and experience.
The sand dunes lining the beach for miles are covered in dry land vegetation, some ground creeping vines and the invasive kiawi tree, which is a species of mesquite. The dunes are a great vantage point to look down the scenic coast or seek some mid-day shade, but watch your steps carefully as the kiawi trees have sharp thorns. The broken branches lying on the ground are especially hazardous to bare feet.
On days during mid-week it is quiet at the park, but on holidays or weekends don't be surprised to see a lot of locals driving 4x4's or even camping in groups on the beach. Polihale is a favorite destination of Kauaiians of all sorts, but the beach is so large it never seems crowded.
The town of Kekaha is your last outpost of civilization before your trek to Polihale. Make sure to bring ample drinking water, as it is usually the factor that determines your length of stay during the prime hot hours of the day. The peak hours for heat depends on the amount of wind, but is generally between 11 am to 3 pm.
A mid-day start to your journey to Polihale can give the best timing to enjoy the afternoon on the beach, avoiding the extreme high noon sun and heat, and giving you the perfect window to achieve a sunset stay. Making stops along the way at Salt Pond Beach Park in Hanapepe or MacArthur Beach Park in Kekaha, can provide for safer swimming, and help divide up your day on the dry side.
Closest town: Kekaha
Take Kaumuali'i Highway/ HI-route 50 West through Kekaha along the coast. The roads turns inland and you will pass the "Barking Sands" missle testing grounds on the left for several miles. As you pass the last entrance to the base, the road turns to the right and you will look for a posted sign "Polihale State Park 4.8 miles" turn left onto the dirt road and drive slowly until you reach the wooden "Polihale State Park" sign. Take the right fork in the road and follow it to the end to the "day use area".
Caution: If you come to sand drifted across the road proceed with caution. Sand driving requires momentum and straight steering. If you stop or try to turn on soft sand you will get stuck.