The more we keep digging for secluded beaches on the island, the more we seem to come across. The probability of finding such beaches is higher on Kauai’s north shore as it is mostly undisturbed.
In this blog post, we’ll explore Larsen’s beach. This beach doesn’t have much to keep visitors occupied. But it is often the simplest of experiences we remember and cherish most.
The rural ambiance and peaceful hike along this beach are ideal for those who seek privacy and need a break from their packed Kauai itinerary.
This picturesque beach is in a peaceful rural setting in Kilauea, on Kauai’s northeastern shore. It lies between Moloaa Bay and Waiakalua beach. Larsen’s beach sees very few visitors because of its remote location and difficult access.
A bird’s-eye view of the beach reveals a two-mile-long strip of white sand that separates the ocean from a vegetated hill. You will not see any commercial development here. Like Secret beach, Larsen’s beach has a raw, undisturbed setting perfect for people who need just that.
As with secluded beaches on the island, there is no road access that leads all the way to the beach. The only access path is via a short but steep trail from the parking lot.
Some locals come here to harvest Limu (edible seaweed) on the reef. The Ka’aka’ainu reef (Larsen’s beach is sometimes called Ka’aka’ainu or Lepeuli beach) has been an important source of Limu for local families. This reef sees abundant seaweed growth and is the most abundant source of Limu on the island. For the same reason, it is a feeding ground and habitat for Hawaiian monk seals and green sea turtles. You will probably spot these endangered species relaxing on Larsen’s beach.
Moloa’a Bay is located beside Larsen’s beach. Although both beaches lack visitors, Moloa’a bay fronts a residential neighborhood. Access both places on the same day for a diverse beach experience.
Should You Swim at Larsen’s Beach?
The Pakala Channel
A lava rock protrusion divides Larsen’s beach into two sections. This is Pakala Point. Although the second half is a part of Larsen’s, people sometimes bifurcate and call it Waipake beach.
Close to Pakala point, there is an opening in the reef barrier that exposes the shoreline to the ocean. This is the Pakala channel, a place you should avoid venturing nearby for your own safety. The channel acts as a crevice for shoreline water to flow back into the ocean. This causes a powerful pull and can be dangerous for people swimming nearby. Adding to it, the shallow waters and sharp coral bed do not call for a great swimming experience.
How About Snorkeling?
Snorkelers flock to Larsen’s beach during summer. This is when the ocean is most peaceful and the waves flat.
But conditions can be deceptive and dangerous at Larsen’s beach. In the last 4 decades, there have been 11 drownings- Pakala channel being the prime suspect. There are no lifeguards stationed on the beach. So do not snorkel anywhere near the Pakala channel for your own safety. Stick to the tiny water pockets in the inner reef area for snorkeling.
Cons aside, unfavorable oceanic conditions should not be a reason to avoid this beautiful beach. In fact, it is the perfect excuse to indulge in long beach walks, beachcombing, beachside lunch or simply enjoy the seclusion in the picturesque setting.
History of Larsen’s Beach
The beach is named after David Larsen, who once resided behind the beach shore. Larsen, a plant pathologist by profession, was the manager at Kilauea Sugar Plantation Company. His research helped to discover methods for extracting high yield with decreased costs at sugar plantations.
Larsen’s Beach Directions
1. Beach Parking Lot Access
You can access Larsen’s beach via Kuhio Highway (Highway 56). Keep driving along Highway 56 northward and pass Moloaa road. Continue uphill and look for a dirt road on the right that says ‘Beach Access’. What follows next is a drive amidst lush greenery for about 0.9 miles. The parking lot is at the end of the dirt road.
2. Trail to the Beach
A simple trail from the beach parking lot was the original access path to Larsen’s beach. Following legal issues, the trail was fenced some years ago to bar public access to the beach. However, some visitors claim to have easily accessed the beach through this route.
There is an alternative rocky trail to the beach, which is much steeper and difficult as it winds down the sea cliffs. The difficult access is one reason very few people visit the beach.
3. Hike to Kepuhi Point
Once you step foot on the beach, take a blissful explorative walk along the shoreline. You’ll soon reach a faint trail that traverses a hill near Pakala Point. This trail leads to Waipake beach. A few tidal pools later, you’ll finally reach Kepuhi point. This place boasts of a natural lava rock arch and a beautiful landscape- an ideal spot for some amazing photos to show your peers back home.
Final Tips Before You Head to Larsens Beach
- Bring proper hiking shoes. Not a good idea to hike with flip flops.
- There’s nothing nearby. So fill up on water and food.
- The setting is rural and secluded. So keep your valuables locked in the trunk for safety.
- The beach doesn’t have stationed lifeguards. When waves look challenging, it is best to enjoy the view from a distance.