Salt Pond Beach Park

Top choice in Waimea Canyon & the Westside

One of Kaua‘i’s safest and loveliest-looking beaches, a favorite with local families, Salt Ponds owes its off-putting name to the separate saltwater flats alongside. The beach itself is superb, a gentle crescent where swimming is sheltered by a reef that juts to either side. Stronger swimmers and snorkelers can venture through the narrow keyhole in the reef to explore the rugged coastline to the west. As ever, check conditions with the lifeguards before you set off.

Important in traditional culture, the actual salt ponds are reserved for use by Native Hawaiians only. During one month each year, in summer, they’re drained and harvested for reddish-pink sodium crystals. You can’t buy it anywhere, though; Hawaiian culture does not permit the sale of salt.

To get here, turn makai (seaward) off the highway onto Lele Rd, immediately west of Hanapepe. Facilities include outdoor showers, restrooms, picnic shelters with BBQ grills and camping. There’s usually a Mexican food truck parked alongside, too.

If you ever wonder what locals get up to at a genuine Hawaiian beach party, ask the restroom attendant to explain the ‘No Rubber Balloons in Restroom’ sign.

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