Add Honopu Beach, on Kauai’s Na Pali Coast, to the list of the world’s most beautiful and most dramatic beaches. The remote beach features a 90-foot natural arch in the middle that is large enough to fly a helicopter through. In fact, that’s what happened in the 1976 movie Acapulco Gold.
When Hollywood needs a dramatic, exotic, tropical beach, they often head to Honopu. Movies filmed at Honopu include the 1976 remake of King Kong, Six Days, Seven Nights, Pirates of the Caribbean ‘On Stranger Tides’ and Honeymoon in Vegas.
The massive arch separates the beach into two coves, each framed by steep sea cliffs. On one side a waterfall flows onto the beach from Honopu Valley. Sand dunes can be found on both sides!
The name Honopu means “conch shell” in Hawaiian because of the conch-like sound the arch makes in high winds. Another name for the beach is Cathedral Beach because of its spectacular, soaring appearance. Honopu Valley has been called the Valley of the Lost Tribe as it was the last rumored refuge of the Menehune on Kauai.
Honopu Beach is as hard to get to as it is dramatic. The beach can easily be seen from a distance on Na Pali Coast boat and helicopter tours. But setting foot on Honopu is not so easy, as boat, kayak, helicopter and other assisted landings are not permitted and there is no land access due to the steep cliffs. The only way to get to Honopu is by swimming, either from Kalalau Beach or from a boat. Swimming on Kauai’s Na Pali Coast can be treacherous, with huge waves and rip currents. Only the strongest, most ocean-hardened swimmers should attempt a swim to Honopu, with fins highly recommended. In summer months, it may be possible to walk at least part of the way from Kalalau Beach to Honopu on exposed rocks and sand. Honopu is by far the most difficult beach to reach on the island of Kauai.
The restrictions on beach landings are due to the beaches and valley being sacred in Hawaiian culture. The area is a place of ancient temples and burial grounds for Hawaiian royalty.
Location at Google Maps
Honopu Beach Photos
Above: Kauai’s Honopu Beach as seen on a Kauai helicopter tour.