Polihale State Park
Polihale State Park encompasses nearly 140 acres of coastal lands at the western end of the Na Pali coast. The park consists of a large sand beach (Polihale Beach), Polihale cliff and a traditional heiau. This is a typically hot and arid, almost desert-like setting.
The road to Polihale may seem a little less like a tropical island and a little more like a desert highway. On a bright sunny day, the flat stretch of Highway 50 between Highway 552 and Polihale Beach can create a mirage that looks more suited to Arizona than Hawai'i. Near mile marker 30 take a look to your left and observe the high security of the Pacific Missile Range Facility (yet another thing that isn't quite so "tropical"). Once you pass mile marker 32, the highway ends, and you will have to take a right inland. The first road on your left will take you to Polihale. Be warned; this is no pleasure ride in a small vehicle.
The drive is a long, bumpy sand road which can be a bear in a regular car. Fragments of front bumpers are strewn along the road as a testament to motorists who were ill-prepared for some deep ditches. Keep your eyes on the road, and you should be fine. After a little over three miles, the road ends at a massive monkeypod tree.
After you reach the tree bear right and drive until you see an area where a lot of other rental cars are parked, then it is just a short hike up the dunes to the breathtaking vastness of Polihale. On the right are the majestic cliffs of Na Pali and to the left in the distance is the forbidden island of Ni'ihau. The pristine sands of Polihale can sometimes form 100-foot dunes. Kauai residents will drive their trucks and SUVs right onto the beach for camping or lounging. We advise you not to try the same with your rental unless you have a 4x4. We've seen several people get caught in the sand in regular rental cars, and this is not a place you want to get stuck.
Polihale, which is joined with Barking Sands Beach, is 17 miles long, which makes it the longest beach in Hawai'i.
If the weather is cooperating, this is an excellent location also to catch a glimpse of Ni'ihau on the horizon. The views from the Ni'ihau Lookout on Waimea Canyon Drive are decent enough, but we've found the best views are from this beach. It's probably as close as you'll ever come to the forbidden shores of the island.
Polihale is a mysterious place, and the location may even give you what the locals call 'chicken skin,' or goosebumps. Local legends say that the sheer cliffs at the end of Polihale are the "jumping off" place for spirits leaving this world.