LOVED a three day stay here camping on the sand and gazing out over the high bluffs to one of the best sunset views in all Hawaii. Rent a 4WD Jeep, take 80% of the air out of your tires and enjoy.
The showers are cold.
Glorious beach with mountains in view
rough Ocean current
This place is an absolute dream. The scuba diving here is awesome, snorkeling is great, hiking is incredible and laying by the beach is magical. We spent most of our day by the beach and spent one morning scuba diving. Polihale State Park was one of our favorite places to visit. We did some scuba diving from the park, and it was incredible. The water life was spectacular. We saw so many beautiful fish, a shark, and tons of beautiful coral and plants. We loved everything about this park also. We spent the evening hanging out in the park, enjoying our dinner and watching the sunset. This park was very busy, and I understand why. There is some great restaurants and ice cream shops as well. Highly recommend getting ice cream and bringing it to the park. We loved every minute of being here and can’t wait to visit again.
Polihale State Park is the longest stretch of continuous beach on Kauai if including Barking Sands and the military zone just south. With campgrounds on the berms (under minimal treeline) and drive-on beach access, your options are pretty expansive at this large campground. We drove onto the beach each night as we had a Jeep (don’t forget you need four-wheel and 20 PSI tire pressure to effectively maneuver on deep sand). Camped right next to our car. Swam under the moon (be careful, swells and currents can be pretty big here and wave break is only about ten feet from the shore). Showers, bathrooms, day use shelters and beyond. There are tons of great private off-chutes between the road and b beach for camping but we liked sleeping close to the waves. Be sure to check tide charts when setting up so the waves don’t reach your tent. Fires are not allowed in state parks but everybody lights small fires anyways. Be sure to light up closer to the water so debris from your fire (ash and the like) wash away. We put in on our last morning here for our overnight kayak trip to Miloli’i (highly recommend that trip even if you do a day trip. Check out Na Pali Kayaks for rentals and guided tours). This was our favorite beach campsite of the trip and can be booked online through Hawaii.gov.
I would highly recommend this place if you are looking to stay somewhere with less people. It was an adventure just getting to this beach area to camp. It was a little difficult, but my husband and I managed. The road leading up to the beach is pretty rough, and about 5 miles long. Thankfully our rental car was a jeep and made it through. The beach also has some pretty big sand dunes, so watch out for this. One thing we really enjoyed was swimming at Queens Pond. This actually is the only place they recommend people swim because the other places have very strong currents. We didnt even try swimming anywhere else because we read the warning signs and knew it wasnt worth it. The campsite does have picnic tables, restrooms and showers. Although the showers are cold, just FYI. There was a trail nearby that was really fun and sandy. Loved staying here, highly recommend.
Polihale is the beach you go to if you are looking for a beach with very few others on it. It's the last beach when driving out to the west side. If you hit the end of the road, you've gone too far. The road out is pretty terrible so if you don't have a car that can handle some bumps, I wouldn't risk it. There are countless times when tourists take their rentals out there and get stuck either in the sand, mud or potholes.
If you manage to make it out there, you will have a good chunk of the beach to yourself. There a pavilions and picnic tables scattered throughout the stretch of beach. My personal favorite is to just throw a towel on the sand, watch for shooting stars, and fall asleep. There is no light pollution so this is also the place to go to capture those beautiful night sky shots.
Polihale is everything you think of from a Hawaiian beach - without the crowds. there are many sites - some with and some without picnic tables and each with a short walk to a beach and bathroom. the bathrooms are cleaned and filled with toilet paper often and the views here are just breathtaking. It’s a 20 min drive from the town of Waimea (my favorite little town) where we got all things necessary and we felt safe leaving our stuff at the site. most of the locals come to surf all weekend and camp in order to hit the best waves. tourists are generally scared away by the rental car companies but a 4WD car will get you there no problem. the biggest problem this site has is the kiawe trees. these trees are great tinder - although fires are not technically allowed in the sites - most people lit them on the beach. these trees are brittle and the branches fall easily - not a huge deal until you step on one and realize these branches are thorns which will make it through your slippers no problem. watch your steps and clear your site well of all debris because it is more than likely that those thorns will rip up a sleeping pad or tent liner with ease. My favorite place to camp on Kauai. there are feral cats and lots of beautiful birds to look at if for some reason you get tired of the ocean waves and scenic cliffs to the north. on a really clear day you can see ni’ihau the forbidden island. the sand gets realllllly hot so be careful. I spent my day looking for tiny shells of organisms only native to this side of Kauai and Niihau and the shells make beautiful jewelry which you may find at the craft fairs in Waimea.
I head out to Kauai yearly but finally decided to do a small camping trip this time and I'm super glad I did! I brought all my stuff from the mainland but I know there are retailers that rent camping stuff on Kauai for 15$-20$. I really wanted to do the Kalalau trail but that's ideally a 5-day outting.
So before coming out here I'd read many things about the dirt road so I wasn't sure what to expect but as of 4/29/17 here's what it looks like: The road was redone and is a lot better. Anything from camrys to lifted silverados with swamp tires were on the beach when we went. For better or worse the redone road really made it accessible for everyone. That said, we got STUCK. Our rental had 4x4 and I made the mistake of going ON the beach, DONT GO ON THE BEACH STAY ON THE DIRT ROAD TO THE BATHROOMS. Thank god some locals were nearby and offered to pull us out of the 3ft ditch my front wheel had dug for itself.
Once we got out of the ditch we parked the car in a flat level area at the end of the road basically, across from the bathrooms and outdoor showers (cold running water, no privacy, but the cold water is super refreshing at this very dry and hot part of kauai). We walked like 50 feet up a dune and set up our tent. air was super windy when we arrived but it died down as the night went on. The wind made it somewhat chilly. When we got there and it wasn't on the weekend even, there were a lot of people. The beach was dotted with groups of campers. Though that's no issue, I was hoping for a secluded and romantic camping experience and didn't get one. Another couple next-door was very friendly and we had a bonfire together using locally found wood (kiaweh, very thorny be careful) which was nice but I would have preferred to be isolated. When we woke up it wasn't too hot but by 11:00am the sun makes it over the Easterly ridge and it starts scorching you and your tent so get up and go for a swim! We went out pretty far but we're decent swimmers. The riptides can be pretty bad. If you need to swim you can head to Queen's Bath by the entrance and it's a lot calmer and some of the best snorkeling on the island (wish I had known that). All in all I recommend it. It is on the Westernmost side of the US which is cool to say and the lack of seclusion can be a blessing in case you ever get stuck. Just don't hope for this campground's fabled isolation, though it is pristine and remote. I should also say we never got our permit checked and you CAN camp wherever the heck you feel like it. I recommend getting a permit just in case though, and the money helps keep it pristine. you
Anyway here's a list of what I recommend bringing:
Tow straps for in case you get stuck you can flag down a 4x4 and get pulled out of a ditch
Something warm for the nights, just an outer shell
Sandstakes (or just make do with trees found nearby)
Swim Trunks even just to rinse off in the morning as the shower isn't private
Your sense of adventure because this is a fun campground
Polihale is our favorite drive in campsite on Kauai. It's far enough away that it's rarely crowded. On the weekends it's definitely a local spot for camping and surfing. You can drive your 4wd out on the sand. Or a normal vehicle can make it down the end of the long dirt road and you can walk a little ways onto the beach and set up your tent on the sand. There are bathrooms and outdoor beach showers. I don't think it's potable water though so bring your own! :) the large long beach is unbeatable and the towering mountains at the start of the Na Pali coast is spectacular!
Camping on the beach doesn't get any better. Amazing white sand against Na Pali cliffs, we whale watched from our tent (with binoculars) The dirt road can be rough and there are not services once you get out there. We saw some surfers, but didn't swim ourselves; they say to beware of strong off shore currents. The only downside was the chickens did wake us very early. Book early for your permit if you have a specific night in mind.