Imagine almost ten miles of spectacular, pristine, isolated, wild Kauai beach right around the corner from the Na Pali Coast! Imagine that it is sandy white and stretches farther than the eye can see. And imagine that it is so wide that it has its own sand dunes. Such a beach exists, and it’s called Polihale!
There is so much beach at Polihale, it’s almost as if nature had a lot of beach left over when Kauai was being made, so nature threw the rest of it all in at the end of Kauai. (There’s actually more than ten miles of Polihale, but part of it is on a military base and inaccessible to the public.)
To say it’s at the end is appropriate. Polihale Beach is at the westernmost end of Kauai. Only the “forbidden island” of Niihau is farther west. Beyond that are thousands of miles of ocean.
Adding to Polihale’s remoteness is the road to get there. The five-mile dirt road leading to Polihale Beach is rutted and unimproved and is sometimes flooded and impassable. Rental car companies prohibit their vehicles from venturing to Polihale, though some tourists may risk the drive in a four-wheel drive rental vehicle such as a Jeep Wrangler.
To make the drive in anything less would be foolish, but more than a few do. The local residents though, in their Toyota pickup trucks and other off road vehicles, have free rein at Polihale. Some locals find their favorite place to park at Polihale. Others like to take their vehicles for a spin on the beach, so watch out!
Being at the end of the earth, the waters are turbulent. This is not the beach to go to for swimming. Powerful waves and strong currents make the waters a dangerous place. Instead, enjoy Polihale’s large expanse of sand, views of the ocean in front and cliffs behind. At night, enjoy a sky lit up with thousands of stars, the Milky Way, and the occasional meteor.
It’s sunny and hot at Polihale, so be prepared with beach umbrellas, awnings or tents for shade. It’s also mostly dry. If the rest of Kauai is getting soaked, head to Polihale. Nevertheless, this is Kauai and rains are not uncommon so be prepared for that too, especially if you’re camping overnight.
Overnight camping is permitted at Polihale, with a permit. There are designated camping areas but no numbered campsites.
There are restrooms and showers at the beach, but don’t count on cell phone service.
To reach the beach, drive west on Highway 50 past Kekaha. Veer right onto Kiko Road and after a short distance take a left onto Mana Road. Drive carefully down the unpaved Mana Road for about five miles.
A common question we get is can a regular rental car (not a Jeep) make it on the unpaved road to Polihale. The answer is probably yes if you drive slow and carefully. However we do recommend a Jeep or similar vehicle. If for some stupid reason you do get your rental vehicle stuck at Polihale, you might consider calling a tow truck before your rental car company, but that’s your call. Either way, you’ll be spending extra money.
Location at Google Maps
The island of Niihau can be seen on the horizon in the above photo.