Kauai’s Top Beaches
Kauai, the oldest island within Hawaii’s chain, is known for its relaxed, quiet, and relatively unpopulated beaches. Fifty miles of white sand adorn this garden isle, giving visitors a wide variety to choose from. But with so many options, and so little time, how do you pick or even prioritize which beach to spend your day at?
We recommend beginning by narrowing down the activities and your preferences for your beach day. Are you hoping to snorkel? Do you wish to bring the kids? Are you looking for calm waters, public restrooms, or generous shade? Are you renting body boards or surfboards? All these tidbits play a role in choosing the ideal beach for the day.
That being said, I have narrowed down some of Kauai’s top beaches for visitors. Whether you’re hoping to be active in the water or simply relax on a lounge chair, you are sure to find a beach in this review that suits your interests.
Polihale is Kauai’s most western beach accessible to people. It spans approximately seven miles and is known for its hot climate, white sand, and expansive views of the Pacific. Ocean conditions are unpredictable and swimming is usually not recommended here. However, there is a portion of water along the beach called Queen’s Pond that is sheltered by a circular reef pattern, enclosing a large portion of the water for safe swimming. This is a great spot for beach combing, lounging, exploring, and is one of Kauai’s largest, most stunning spans of sand.
Lawaii Road beach may be one of my favorite spots for snorkeling on the island. It is located on the south side in Poipu, next to the Beach House Restaurant. Although the beach is not ideal for lying out, the waters and reefs are ideal for viewing an array of vibrant underwater life. Here you can spot everything from sea turtles to manta rays to needle fish to the iconic humuhumunukunukuapuaa. Angelfish are also plentiful here, as well as urchin, eels, and tons of other species of colorful fish.
If you’re looking to do some surfing, body boarding, or just play in the shore break, Kealia beach on the east side and Shipwrecks on the south side are excellent destinations. Be cautious of unsafe ocean conditions however, because where good surf lies, often times, danger lurks too, many times in the form of strong currents, rocky bottoms, and powerful waves. Both beaches have large stretches of sand for sunning and walking, and both have public restrooms. Kealia has a lifeguard on duty and a generous parking lot that stretches from end to end. Although Shipwrecks has a smaller parking lot, it may be more worthwhile because of its attractions (cliff jumping, the Grand Hyatt Resort, professional surfers and body boarders, whale watching, and more).
The north shore has some of the island’s most unbelievably beautiful beaches that are secluded and set in tropical rainforests. Tunnels beach is great for swimming, snorkeling, and sunbathing, and gets its name from the underwater tunnels that have formed in the reef, making it a poplar place for snorkelers to frequent. Ke’e Beach is great for all these reasons as well and is located at the farthest northern point accessible by car. Hanalei beach is a great place for kids because of its calm waters, picnic areas, and cement pier that is safe to jump from.
I have only mentioned seven beaches in this review, but if none seem to entice you, you have approximately 40 miles left to explore!
Haleiwa Farmers Market to Close, Switch Its Location
After being in business for three years and providing livelihood for dozens of local farmers, entrepreneurs, and customers, the state Department of Transportation has ordered the Haleiwa Farmers Market to close its current location and reposition. Open every Sunday from 9am-1pm and with over forty vendors participating, the market has been told to relocate to another part of Haleiwa due to prohibitions.
The strip of road that the market posts on is the old Kamehameha Highway, which has not been used since 1993. However, technically still considered a road by the Department Of Transportation, it fell under Section 264-101, which states, “Vending from highways is prohibited.” Because the land has been deemed for agricultural use and is state owned, it puts the state in a vulnerable position of liability. Instead of waiting for an accident to happen, Department of Transportation is taking preventative measures to ensure the state cannot be sued if anything were to happen on the property.
David Louie, the State Attorney General, states, ““The first thing we have to do is ensure people’s safety. We will not wait for an accident to happen before taking action to protect the public. We must respect the law.”
Although a petition has been in circulation for weeks, it was not enough to stop the move. The market has been permitted to run for three more Sundays, and by May 13th, will be closed at this particular Haleiwa location for good. There has been talk that it will be moved to Liliuokalani Protestant Church in Haleiwa, but nothing conclusive has been decided. There has been much controversy and resistance against the change, with the owners and operators strongly against it. However, ultimately, the state makes the decision, and this decision is final.
For those frequenting the Haleiwa Farmers Market, or simply interested, you can stay updated on current news at haleiwafarmersmarket.com through their blog or Facebook page. The owners and operators, Pamela Boyer and Annie Suite, have succeeded in making their markets green and completely local. They do not allow anything outside of Hawaii to be sold, making it a truly local marketplace. You can find fresh baked goods, hand crafted jewelry, potted plants, beauty products, clothing, cooking goodies, artwork, produce, fruits, and much more at this market, so make sure to stop by and support your local farmers.
Construction Begins for Honolulu’s Rail Line
Many votes actually approved the rail line because it was proposed in such a way that makes sense to the average Honolulu citizen. However, those who voted won’t necessarily be the ones riding the rail line as a commuting method. Another controversy raised is the skyline and how it will be affected. Although many people wonder, “Well isn’t Honolulu already ridden with high rises and multi-story apartment complexes anyways?” the parts outside of Honolulu are all relatively low lying.
Michael Martine, a blogger on bettering Hawaii writes, “It will shift residential communities into urban clusters around rail stations (transit-oriented development), creating pedestrian neighborhoods and reducing the need for cars within the community. It will impact any homes or offices at train level, in terms of noise, privacy, view, pedestrian traffic, and available street parking. It will require higher taxes to maintain (the 0.5% surcharge is set to expire in 2022)”.
The entire rail line project is expected to finish in 2019, with a few sections to open in late 2015 or early 2016. Still being challenged in federal court however, politicians are using their pro or con stance on the project as a bargaining chip. Ben Cayetano, former governor, is running for Mayor on the campaign assurance that he would terminate the project if elected. With a strong group of followers, this may be the only chance Honolulu has for keeping its skylines clear.
Personally I am undecided on the project. I think Honolulu’s traffic problem needs to be addressed, and it takes drastic measures to fix something this far gone. I do agree however, that the rail line will change Honolulu and raise taxes. So how far are we willing to go to make it worth it? And at what point does it become beyond worth it? What are your thoughts?
Oahu’s Ban on Plastic Bags
July 2015 will mark the ban on plastic bags in Honolulu’s convenience stores, restaurants, and super markets. Council has approved the ban of non-biodegradable bags being distributed in the retail industry in a 7-1 vote. Many other cities have already approved this ban, making reusable grocery bags and recyclable paper bags the only option for lugging around goods. Unlike some places that have a fee for using plastic bags, this is a flat out ban. They are no longer allowed and stores can be fined for providing them.
The plastic bags that are exempt from the ban are: produce bags, meat and nuts bags, dry cleaning bags, garbage bags, yard waste bags, and the plastic bags that our newspapers come in.
Mayor Peter Carlisle still has yet to sign the bill, but has released this statement: “I always believed that as long as people litter their plastic bags, something needs to be done. Right now, properly discarded plastic bags are incinerated for energy at H-Power. I want to acknowledge the City Council for wrestling with this issue and attempting to resolve the concerns of retailers, consumers and all Oahu citizens who care for the environment. I plan to review this final draft of Bill 10 and accept public input before I make a decision.”
Many are ecstatic about this ban, because it helps our environment, the ocean, animals, and cuts down on toxins and litter. The only poor thing about this ban is the inconvenience it may pose on consumers, a small price to pay for the large contribution we will be making as a whole.
Council has given consumers three years to get used to the idea, as well as allow stores to transition to reusable and recyclable bags and purge all plastic bag inventories. Ernie Martin, Honolulu City Council Chairman states, “I’m confident when we reach 2015 we will have progressed to a point where the cost of a biodegradable plastic bags will be no different from the price of bags that are given out now”.
The ban on plastic bags is a step towards a greener future, which I fully support. Although it may take a little getting used to, this is definitely worth the slight discomfort for consumers. Our environment, ocean, and ultimate well being is always worth it.