Bathe like royalty in the Queen’s Bath tide pool at the bottom of this hike–but only if you time your visit right. A bit perilous thanks to the high surf on the North Shore during the winter months, Queen’s Bath transforms into a gorgeous, tranquil oceanside natural swimming pool in the summer.
Thousands of visitors have given this hike five stars. You name it, you’ll find it here: Stunning panoramic views of the coast and the mountains. A huge variety of lush plant life. A challenging but very satisfying trail. A place to dip into the cool, fresh water at the end. And as a backdrop to it all, expect the drama of crashing waves and the wildness of the open ocean just beyond.
Inside the rocky tide pools, a careful look will reveal a huge array of sea life. Outside the tide pools in the ocean, visitors often spot multiple sea turtles (in the Hawaiian language, they’re called honu) enjoying the seaweed from the rocky shore. Bring a snorkel mask to catch the best views of the underwater wildlife in the tide pools themselves!
Despite the area’s beauty, hiking here does carry substantial risk. The trail is slippery and not regularly maintained; it’s a place to step carefully, and only when prepared with tough, grippy shoes you don’t mind getting muddy and a full bottle of water for hydration. There are no lifeguards patrolling this beach, and rescues are tricky thanks to the rocky shore and unpredictable nature of the waves.
When the surf is high, Queen’s Bath is best avoided; look up a surf report if you’re in doubt, and try to time your visit during low tide. Visitors here have been swept out of the “bathtub” before.
Conditions at this beach tend to be better when visiting during the summer months, and you’ll find that the trail is heavily-trafficked this time of year. Planning to make this hike early in the morning can you help beat the crowds and avoid the hottest part of the day.
Queen’s Bath is located in the town of Princeville on Kauai’s North Shore. Although the location is easy to find, parking can be tricky. Nearby, you’ll find plenty of restaurants and watering holes to refuel after your hike.
-The parking lot at Queen’s Bath only fits about 8-10 cars, so prepare to be patient and circle around waiting for a spot. Plan your visit for early mornings to avoid some of the crowds.
-Time your visit for low tide and low surf conditions; people have drowned because they attempted to swim in the pools when the water was too rough.
-For the truly adventurous, a few low cliffs provide jumping-off spots, but visitors recommend talking to locals about the conditions before jumping in!