POLIHALE, an uncommonly beautiful BEACH on Kaua‘i’s isolated west side, is known for its 17-mile stretch of golden sand and hot, cloudless days. Located near the PACIFIC MISSILE RANGE FACILITY, Polihale’s huge expanse of sizzling sand gives way to warm, neon-blue water that seems to stretch from here to eternity.
The safest swimming area is a place called QUEENS POND. To get there, drive 3.4 miles along the dirt entrance to a spot where the road curves near a large monkey pod tree. Take the fork to the left and park. Then, walk north along the beach until you come to a hollow in the coral.
At sunset, the sky over Polihale turns purple and orange, the sand cools, and the beach becomes quiet and peaceful. To the west, the sun sets fiery red beyond nearby NI‘IHAU, and to the north, the ragged NAPALI CLIFFS go dark.
For ancient Hawaiians, Polihale was the site of a heiau (temple) from where Hawaiians believed the souls of the dead departed for Po, the underworld.
The ocean currents here are unpredictable and have swept people to their deaths. There are no lifeguards, only an emergency phone, and if you do get in trouble, help can be a long time coming.
Camping is by permit only. There are shower and restroom facilities, but no potable water.
To get to Polihale, take Highway 50 (Kaumuali‘i Highway) through Kekaha and past the main gate of the Pacific Missile Range Facility. A sign on the left says Polihale; follow the dirt road 5 miles to a small state park with camping facilities.