After suffering historic floods in 2018, the highway access to Ha’ena Beach on North Shore Kauai reopened with new restrictions of just 900 visitors per day. This is intended to preserve the pristine natural beauty of this fragile and popular beach. You need to reserve your spot online up to 14 days ahead, pay for parking (currently $5 in 2023) and for the round-trip shuttle (another $11 per person) if you don’t intend to walk to the sands.
Don’t be put off as this famous beach is well worth the effort. BTW, Ha’ena is Hawaiian for “red hot”.
Just offshore from the golden sand is Makua Reef to the east and Hauwa Reef to the west, Unfortunately they do not provide any protection from stormy waves and there’s a nasty rip current, especially in winter. In summer, it’s a great place for swimming and snorkelling. The high surf activity has created a steeply sloping beach so getting in can be tricky.
Hā‘ena Beach Park amenities include a spacious car park, showers, restrooms, picnic tables and barbecues. Incidentally, the park is also the trailhead for the Kalalau Trail, access to the site of a sacred Hawaiian Heiau temple and ancient sea caves (check out the Maniniholo Dry Cave just across the road).
Camping is permitted but you need to book ahead. Bear in mind that if you visit Ha’ena Beach you’re less than a mile from the fantastic Limahuli Gardens, said to be the best botanical gardens in the whole of the USA, so you might want to drop in after visiting Hā‘ena Beach.
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