This mini-Sahara on the western end of the island is Hawaii’s biggest beach: 17 miles long and as wide as three football fields in places. This is a wonderful place to get away from it all, but don’t forget your flip-flops—the midday sand is hotter than a lava flow. The pale golden sands wrap around Kauai’s northwestern shore from Kekaha plantation town, just beyond Waimea, to where the ridges of Napali begin. For military reasons, access is highly restricted for a 7-mile stretch along the southeastern end near the Pacific Missile Range Facility, including the famed Barking Sands Beach, known to Hawaiians as Nohili. You’ll still have miles of sand to explore in 140-acre Polihale State Park, provided you (or your car) can handle the 5-mile, often very rutted dirt road leading there. (Avoid driving on the car-trapping sand, too.) The sheer expanse, plus views of Niihau and the first stark cliffs of Napali, make the arduous trek worth it for many. Although strong rip currents and a heavy shorebreak make the water dangerous, especially in winter, Queen’s Pond, a small, shallow, sandy-bottom inlet, is generally protected from the surf in summer. The park has restrooms, showers, picnic tables, campsites, and drinking water (usually), but no lifeguards or any other facilities nearby, so plan accordingly. As in all remote areas, don’t leave any valuables in your car.
Our Rating Neighborhood West Side