Spanning seventeen miles of Kaua‘i’s northwestern shore is the longest beach in the state, Polihale Beach, also known as Barking Sands Beach. Fronted by a wildland park and sand dunes—some up to 100 feet high—Polihale Beach Park is the perfect place if you are looking for a secluded beach amidst some of the most picturesque scenery in the state. Beginning at the western end of the famed Nā Pali Coast, the beach itself wraps around Kaua‘i’s western tip and continues down the coast. The 140-acre Polihale Beach Park rests at the eastern end of the beach next to the sheer rise of the Nā Pali cliffs and is challenging to get to; a 4-wheel drive is recommended. Because of the beach park’s remote location, this massive stretch of pristine natural environment fringed with a broad swath of golden sand is nirvana for those seeking to escape the rest of the world.
Polihale Beach Park History
The Polihale area was never heavily populated during ancient Hawaiian times, though there are still scattered remains of a small agricultural community. In the Polihale foothills and valleys, there are remnants of ancient fishing camps, habitation sites, and cave shelters. The largest feature remaining is Polihale Heiau, an ancient Hawaiian temple, which is located at the northern end of the beach up amidst the thick brush. The area to the southwest of Polihale was originally a huge marshland that was used for rice farming in the mid-1800s. The marsh was later drained and converted to sugar cane.
Polihale Beach Park Facilities and Swimming Conditions
Polihale Beach Park offers picnic pavilions and tables, a restroom, and showers. Bring extra water and whatever you would want for a day at the beach, as there are no stores for miles. Swimming at Polihale is not recommended due to the heavy shore break and powerful current. At the southern end of the park you will find Queen’s Pond, a small reef-bound natural lagoon that provides a safe environment for swimming. 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
Access to Polihale Beach Park is via a five-mile long rutted dirt road; 4-wheel drive is recommended, and rental car companies do not like their vehicles going out to Polihale. If it rains, a 2-wheel drive will not make it. If you break down, you will have to pay for the tow truck, as car rental companies won’t cover it. From Kīlauea, take Highway 50 north. The end of the road forks; bear right onto Kiko Road. The second left is Lower Saki Mana Road; this is a rough unpaved road and there may or may not be a sign marking it. Turn left and follow it to the end.