Polihale State Park

A 3-hour time difference means waking up at 6am. For our first full day in Kauai, we wanted to journey a little farther. We opted for Polihale State Park, it’s the longest stretch of beach that runs for miles on the west coast of the island. However, it takes a bumpy road to get there.

Massive flooding occurred in Kauai in April (2018) so we were lucky that this off-road opened up the day before. Reading a lot of online reviews, people warn against driving a sedan rental car on this road; however, the road has been improved a lot in recent years. We also found that there’s great service out there, but this wasn’t always the case in the past. It’s still extremely bumpy gravel but it’s no longer pure mud after a rainy day where you could easily get stuck.

We had breakfast on the way at Kalahelo Cafe and Coffee Company. This place is packed! Even at 7:30am there was a line out the door to order to dine-in. A good trick is to order takeout here (no line) but we arrived early enough that there were open tables.


We ordered their Portuguese sausage egg scramble and tried their sticky buns. Solid! but not too different from what you can get in the Bay Area.

Anytime you are on the West side, you must stop at Ishihara Market. They had the largest selection of poke that I saw on the whole island. It’s a local market with a deli section in the back where you can order poke by the pound or prepared plates. I also snagged some spam musubis that they only make once in the morning and sell until they run out. These items made for the perfect beach picnic later on.

By the time we got to the beach, it was only 9am. I’ve never laid out so early before but we got to read and play phone games on the beach with barely anyone else there except a few locals. This is the beauty of Kauai: in general, there are way less tourists here than I suspect there are on other islands. If you want to be as far away as possible from people, be an early grandma and go to this beach. Though it was overcast, we knew the UV rays were strong. But alas, Sun-1 Ashley-0 after this day. I got another sunburn, thankfully NOT in the place I got sunburned last year.

We had driven all the way to the end of the beach to lay out but there is an area at the beginning of the beach for snorkeling, Queen’s Pond (not to be confused with Queen’s Bath in the North). We drove back the way we came and parked by the sand, there are clear signs on the road to indicate where to turn out. Queen’s Pond is a short walk to the right after you park. It’s an obvious calm area where the reefs are blocking waves from coming in. I suspect this is where I got sunburned with my back facing the sun for hours at 12 noon, oops.

This was a great introduction to snorkeling for us but certainly not the best place. There wasn’t too much diversity in fish but the water was calm and easy to navigate.

Because we started our days so early on this trip,  it was common for us to be back at the resort by 2pm. For us, this was perfect because the East and Western Conference Finals of the NBA were happening and in Hawaii, the games start at 2:30 or 3pm in the afternoon. Say what you will, but I could not imagine a better use of my time in Kauai than to watch the Warriors advance to the NBA Finals for the 4th year in a row.

Poke and saimin dinner at “home”

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