At the very end of Kuhio Highway on the North Shore, you’ll find Hā‘ena Beach Park, an exquisite stretch of golden sand marking the eastern end of the awe-inspiring Nā Pali Coast. To your right, the beach stretches along the coast to Mākua Beach, the beautiful and enchanting film site for South Pacific. Look to your left and you are greeted with one of the most stunning sights in all of Hawai‘i: the red and green fluted cliffs of the famed Nā Pali Coast rising straight up from the shoreline. You’ll see plenty of backpackers about the park stretching and gearing up to take on the grueling Kalalau Trail. Immediately across the street from Hā‘ena Beach Park is Maniholo Dry Cave, a safe and fun ancient cave to explore for the whole family. A short walk to the west will bring you to the fascinating Waikanaloa and Waikapala‘e wet caves, the latter being one of the film sites for Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.
Hā‘ena State Park History
Hā‘ena Beach Park was originally an ancient Hawaiian settlement, inhabited from approximately 1000 A.D. until the 1800s. The protected Hā‘ena Archaeological Complex is located within the park, containing numerous house sites, burials, storage pits, and other features, such as the residence of high chief Lohi‘au. The vestiges of an ancient aquaculture fishpond and terraced wetland called can still be seen today, and were used by ancient Hawaiians for raising fish and growing kalo (taro), the staple starch of the Hawaiian diet. As of 2008, plans have been in the works for revitalization of the complex; the site is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Hā‘ena Beach in Kauai Facilities and Swimming Conditions
You’ll find ample parking at Hā‘ena Beach Park, picnic tables, restrooms, showers and drinking water. Large stands of ironwood trees make for plenty of shade; kids can run and play in the large grassy areas. Tent camping is allowed by permit. Swimming at Hā‘ena Beach is not recommended due to the heavy shore break, powerful current, and sudden sea floor drop off. Surfing here can be good, but only if you are highly experienced. As with all Hawaiian beaches, check the current conditions and pay heed to all posted signs regarding ocean conditions and safety.
How to Get There
From Līhue, take Kūhiō Highway (56) north. In Princeville Highway 56 will turn into Highway 560. Continue west on 560. Just before mile marker 9 you’ll see Maniholo Dry Cave on the left, Hā‘ena Beach Park will be on the right.