Polihale State Park

Waimea Canyon & the Westside

The endless expanse of Polihale Beach is as mystical as it is enchanting. The long slow drive here, along a rutted 5-mile dirt road, brings you to the edge of eternity. The wide virgin beach curls into dunes that climb into bluffs, while the foothills of the Na Pali cliffs rise to the north. Families come here to camp and picnic, surf and watch sunsets.

Polihale translates as ʻhome of the underworld.’ According to traditional Hawaiian belief, this is where souls departed for the afterlife. The cliffs at the end of the beach still hold ancient ruins, constructed over the ocean to serve as the jumping-off place for spirits.

To reach the park, fork right at the end of Kaumualiʻi Hwy, 6 miles beyond Kekaha, then turn left onto a dirt road a few hundred yards along. Most car-rental companies forbid customers to drive to the beach, especially without a 4WD, but the road is generally passable in an ordinary vehicle. You have to go slow; the 4.8 miles typically take half an hour.

The park has restrooms, outdoors showers and a picnic area, but no lifeguards – be very careful if you go swimming, and only enter the water during calm conditions.

For surfers, Polihale has some good beach breaks that tend to shift with the winds. Currents can be strong. Towards the south end, look for a reef break at Queen's Pond. To the north, hit up the beach peaks or head for Echo's, at the start of the Na Pali cliffs (advanced riders only). Skilled boogie boarders will have fun here.

Want to spend the night? Make advance reservations to sleep at the rustic campsites, perfect for weekends at the edge of the world. You’ll be rewarded with beautiful sunsets, late afternoons and early mornings without a soul in sight, and mind-blowing views of Niʻihua and the Na Pali Coast. There are showers and toilets, but campfires are not allowed.

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