The road to Polihale on Kauai’s western shores has its good side and bad side. The good usually means a smooth-sailing drive to the white sand oasis, with minimal bumps and bounce. The bad, however, sends passengers rocketing to the roof of their car with each pothole seeming to get bigger by the mile.
I’d say that sounds almost metaphorical to that special time of the month for most ladies; except, Polihale’s moodiness can’t be remedied with a bar of chocolate. We can thank Hawaii’s heavy winter rain for dreadful driving conditions to this remote beach. Rain that floods homes and farms and over-saturates roadways. And while it’s no different than the dozens of other island roadways that get soggy with potholes during this time of year, the road to Polihale is, however, essentially the only way to access this part of the island.
The state works year-round to patch the “pukas” (holes) in the road, but no matter how much dirt or asphalt, the potholes quickly reappear when it rains. It’s most likely because the road isn’t paved; it’s straight dirt and sand and rock. Those driving the island’s ever-popular Toyota Tacomas (or trucks, in general) won’t have a problem. It’s those with smaller cars, like compact rentals loaned to tourists, that often find themselves in trouble.
Even if you miraculously made it through the bumps and bobbing potholes, there’s still the latter half of the drive, which is basically sand. No four-wheel drive? No bueno! I’ve seen my share of cars stuck in the sand out there…WAY out there, where there’s no phone reception to call for help.
You’re best bet is to check with your hotel concierge on the roadway’s condition. If they’re not sure, perhaps ask another local who may know; otherwise, you’re better off not trying. Plus, the fine print of most rental car agreements state that the driver’s responsible for car damages due to unpaved roads. Sorry to say, but as beautiful as Polihale is, it’s not worth a broken axel or blown-out tire.
DRIVE TO POLIHALE • Waimea, Kauai 96796
Posted by: Bruce Fisher