Although Nualolo Kai Beach once served as an early Hawaiian settlement, it’s now a hidden alcove only accessible by boat. Set along the northwestern side of Kauai, this beach sits cut out from the volcano that serves as its spectacular backdrop. While there was once a rope ladder leading down from the trails at the tops of the cliffs, that’s now long gone, so far fewer visitors stop by than ever before.
Making things even more difficult, there’s a reef extending all the way down the beach. Plus, if you want to land your boat on the shore, you’ll need a permit. Many people drop an anchor from their kayak or other boat, and then swim up to the beach from a safe distance. Getting a permit is a much better option, however, as it serves as proof that you have the right to visit.
Without the crowds getting in the way, Nualolo Kai Beach feels like a great place to jet away from it all and simply enjoy the beauty of nature. The monk seals find it peaceful as well, often coming up on the shore to sunbathe and relax at the water’s edge. They are a delight to watch as they lazily roll around on the sand, although you’ll definitely still want to keep a respectful distance.
While there’s nary a human in sight, signs of ancient civilizations abound all across the land near Nualolo Kai Beach. The most stunning of which are all the petroglyphs on the cliffsides and large solitary boulders. No one is entirely sure what the stone carvings mean, but they’re a beautiful reminder of the fishing village that once called this small beach home. Also serving as a reminder of the ancient civilization are all the platforms and rock walls left behind when the community moved inland.
Humans are not the only ones to make their mark on the land. If you look along the cliff faces, you can see the huge X where the lava flowed down the sides of the volcano and etched into the cliffsides. Beyond that, the cliffs remain bare of all vegetation, although plenty grows at the base along the rocky beach. As you explore the landscape, you’re likely to find many amazing sights to admire, all of which remain relatively untouched by visitors.
In recent years, restoration groups have started working on repairing the damage to the local spring and other beach areas at this site. You can see their hard work by visiting the spring where they removed the coconut trees that made the water brackish by decreasing the water table. Soon enough, the spring will once again run clear as the contaminants dissipate. Beyond that, they’ve rebuilt the canoe house, removed invasive vegetation, and done all they can to help the native plants grow and thrive.
The work of the Nualolo Kai Beach not over, either, as there’s so much to do to restore the land to excellent health. So, visit whenever you get a chance to see their ongoing efforts and watch how the landscape thrives under their care.
-There are no bathrooms, trash cans, or other facilities on site at Nualolo Kai Beach.
-Plan to pack out whatever you bring with you. To make it easy, keep a trash bag on hand for any garbage you create or find along the way.
-Be sure to bring a camera in a waterproof case, so you can take tons of photos of the wildlife, scenic views, and your group in paradise.
-There are no lifeguards on site at Nualolo Kai Beach, of course, so you really have to be careful while getting into the water. The remote nature of the site also makes it virtually impossible for help to arrive when you need it, especially if there’s no one to call for assistance on your behalf.