Scattered with orchards, coffee plantations and other cultivated land, the southwest of Kauai Island is a little-visited area, yet it offers interesting sights worth visiting during a stay on the island.
Let's discover them from East to West along the coast, while knowing that many beaches remain quite inaccessible because they are located at the end of the coffee fields. We therefore preferred not to talk about it here.
1What to see around Hanapepe
Hanapepe is a small residential town located halfway between Poipu and Waimea, amidst coffee plantations and market gardens.
Let's start our article with this little beach that made people talk about it with its sand partly mixed with small pieces of glass polished by the waves which make it quite unique. Alas, over the years visitors have collected the small pieces of glass and today the beach is quite bare, which takes away all the interest of this place.
Indeed, the location of this beach at the edge of a large industrial area clearly does not encourage swimming. So don't waste time here, other beaches are much more interesting in the area!
Hanapepe Swinging Bridge
If you are passing through Hanapepe, you can make a small detour to go to the small suspended wooden bridge over the river.
Built in 1911, it was destroyed by Hurricane Iniki in 1992 and rebuilt in the same time. Today the inhabitants still use it to go to the center of the village which is rather pleasant to discover with its small shops and its beautiful banyan.
Salt Pond Park
Here is a small beach park perfect for swimming and lounging with its impeccable lawn bordered by a pretty protected semi-circular beach, all dotted with bunches of coconut palms.
Salt Pond Park, which takes its name from the small pond located on the left side of the beach, has everything to please and will be ideal for families as a rocky barrier secures part of the beach and turns it into a small lagoon making it an ideal place for children to swim. On the other side, the barrier is a little further away, which allows some waves to pass through but still protects the beach, making it very pleasant.
In addition, swimming is supervised and there are many picnic tables in the shade as well as showers and toilets. The place is bordered by a very pleasant green carpet which makes it a very pleasant spot to go and spend a few hours, especially as the place is not yet too crowded. This makes it a good alternative to Poipu Beach.
Campers will also be delighted to find a campsite to pitch a tent. A peaceful and very pleasant place to stay for a few nights.
How to get to Salt Pond Park
Access to Salt Pond Park is relatively easy as the road provides easy access to a large car park along the beach. To get there, simply take the Salt Pond Road all the way to the end.
2What to see in the vicinity of Waimea
The small town of Waimea is famous because it is located at the foot of Waimea Canyon. It is therefore a must see if you plan to visit Waimea Canyon or Kokee State Park.
Russian Fort Elizabeth State Historical Park
This is the last remnant of an old Russian fort that was built in 1817 by a Russian-American society following an alliance with the chief Kaumualiʻi. The construction was a mixture of Russian architecture with Hawaiian construction techniques based on large blocks of lava.
Today the temple is part of the protected heritage of Hawaii and only the first rows of stone remain, like the few Hawaiian temples in the archipelago.
On site documents will give you interesting historical information about the fort. The visit is free.
How to get to the Russian Fort Elizabeth State Historical Park
Access is direct from the Kaumualii Highway before reaching Waimea. The park is well signposted and parking is easily accessible. You can then walk around the site being careful not to climb the rocks of the fort. There are toilets on site.
Mac Arthur Park (Kekaha Beach Park)
Mac Arthur Park (formerly Kekaha Beach Park) provides access to Kekaha Beach, near the town of the same name. Here the strip of sand is very wide and extends to Polihale beach on the west side of the island. The beach later takes the name of Barking Sands beach.
The small park offers the advantage of having easy access to this long and rather wild beach, with a surveillance post. There are also shaded picnic tables as well as toilets and showers.
The Mac Arthur Park is also the ideal place to walk on the sand at sunset, the beach being little frequented and very pleasant at the last light of the day, thanks to its location south-west of Kauai.
How to get to Mac Arthur Park
Access to Mac Arthur Park is easy from a small parking lot on the Kaumualii Highway at the Kekaha exit after Waimea.
We couldn't conclude this article without telling you about Jojo's Shave Ice, the very famous and renowned Shave Ice merchant of Kauai. Their mother shop is located in the center of Waimea and for having been there on each of our trips (3 years in a row), it remains our best Shave Ice tasting of the whole archipelago, with a special mention for the macadamia ice cream which is excellent as well as the toppings. So don't hesitate to visit it and if you're afraid not to finish everything (the cups are huge), think about sharing them :-)