There are few places in this world where I felt like I escaped it all, despite being only 12 miles from the nearest town. Just outside the edges of Kauai’s already rural setting and at the end of a bumpy dirt road lies Polihale State Park. This remote location of white powdery sand dunes is popular among locals and visitors alike.
During the day, the sun can be viscous, turning the sand into a foot-frying pan. Sun protection is a must, and one should be wary of heat exhaustion, as well, for Polihale is one of the hottest places on the island. But it’s nothing a little dip in the crystal clear, turquoise waters won’t fix on a nice calm day.
However, if you’re visiting anytime from the fall to spring, Polihale’s calm waters can become a cauldron of currents created by the famously large north swells. Always assess the scene before entering the ocean, and be particularly cautious, as there are no lifeguards at this beach.
If you have the chance to camp at Polihale, get your permit and DO IT! At night is when the magic truly happens. A chill settles in as darkness descends, and those present trade their swimwear for sweaters and hoodies. Then, the stage is set on the heavens. The sky is unadulterated by city lights, leaving the stars and all the glory of the Milky Way bare for the eye to see. Constellations shine clearly, and falling stars streak unhindered. The universe is fully on display, and the roll of the ocean mixed with the occasional baaahhs from cliffside goats lullaby one to sleep.
That’s the Polihale experience, in my mind. Spend all day frying in the sun, and all night staring at the stars. It’s truly a recommended respite for the adventurous souls. Just remember to be respectful of the land (pack your trash!), the locals and the spirits (Polihale translates to house of the dead). It’s my little corner of Kauai that’s stuck between heaven and earth.
POLIHALE STATE PARK
• Hwy. 50, Waimea, HI 96796 •
Showers, restrooms, camping •
Swimming, snorkeling (when calm)