This golden sand beach is your reward for completing the challenging first two miles on the Kalalau Trail. In the summer time, the sand is thick and beautiful and there is plenty of room to lounge around on the beach and have a picnic either on the sand or on the rocks. There are also several sea caves which are accessible and can be explored at either end of the beach. In the winter, however, all the sand gets taken out by the ocean current only to be returned again the following spring. In the winter, the ocean crashes directly onto the boulders.
Notice the sign just before descending to the beach which warns of the drownings at Hanakapiai. As a general rule, the ocean is quite dangerous here with a nasty shore break and multiple cross currents and rip tides. Expert surfers will paddle out from Ke'e to surf here when the conditions are right and then hike back along the trail barefoot with their surfboards.
If in doubt, don't go out! You can always take a nice refreshing dip in one of the river pools which is what most of the local do.
Hanakapiai Beach is also the starting point for a hike to Hanakapi'ai Falls which is a rocky two miles inland. Take a poncho...it's worth it.