Kauai is well known for its idyllic beaches and pristine waters. With over 90 miles of coastline, Kauai boasts of the highest share of beach per mile in the Hawaiian archipelago.
Kauai’s north shore, in particular, has some gorgeous beaches that are popular among tourists and locals for their playful surf. However, there is one beach near Kilauea, that shies away from any sort of publicity. It is more of a locals beach and the only company you’ll sometimes find here are wanderers, campers and fishermen. The rustic nature of the beach and absence of tourists appeals to the homeless who tend to flock towards those places.
We are talking about Kahili beach, which is also known as Rock Quarry beach or the Kahili Quarry beach.
Kahili Quarry Beach
Kahili beach is topographically similar to other beaches on the island- it has a crescent shaped bay, lush background and playful surf. The beach is rimmed by ironwood trees that provide ample shade for relaxation.
What makes this beach unique is the fact that it is located near Kilauea River mouth, where the river joins the Ocean, thus, forming a natural lagoon on the western side of the beach. This results in the formation of a sandbar and a large freshwater pool for swimming when the ocean is calm. The only drawback though, is the silt carried by the river which makes the pool water murky. The pool serves as a good launch for kayaking and is good for kids and fishing.
Crossing this river (towards left) will lead you to Rock Quarry side of the beach. This is where you’ll find the remains of the rock quarry and see from where this beach gets its name. This portion of Kahili beach boasts of a rocky coastline that goes all the way till Kilauea Lighthouse, passing the Mokolea tidal pools in between.
This side of Kahili beach is popular among photographers for the spectacular views. It is also a brilliant whale watching spot during the season. Although people are attracted towards swimming in the tidal pools, it is a dangerous idea as the rough waves can easily flush a person out.
On the other end of Kahili beach lies a serene space that’s ideal for family picnics and walking pets. It’s more like a beach within a beach where like-minded beach goers gather and enjoy their space.
Between the two ends, lies an undisturbed area of white sand, backed by a much-needed shaded area. A bird’s eye view of the beach reveals a vegetative hill in the background with not much sign of commercial development, except for a few mind blowing estates.
Owing to its location, Kahili beach sees wind waves that continuously strike the shore without any obstruction. While waves are great for surfing and bodyboarding, the absence of a reef barrier makes the adventure risky.
Summer is the time when these waves can be tamed by enthusiastic surfers and also beginners. It is no wonder that Hawaii magazine named Kahili beach among the top 5 beginner friendly surfing locations in Kauai.
Kahili Beach Preserve
Kahili beach and the property fronting it together constitute the Kahili Beach Preserve. The preserve came to being in 2003 when Louise and Monte Zweber donated the 5 acre property for public access to Kahili beach and protecting the marine shoreline ecosystem and the estuarine wetlands.
I’m 2013, HIL acquired an additional 12 acres, extending the beach preserve to 17 acres and is actively working towards development and preservation of the beach for generations to come. HIL is a nationally accredited non profit organization and secured funding for acquisition from the North American Wetlands Conservation fund. The new space stretches adjacent to the Kilauea lighthouse and also includes portions of the Kilauea stream.
The preserve is a popular honeymoon destination for its cozy and personalized cottages inside Fehring Family Farm. The property also boasts of a huge farm growing fresh organic Hawaiian produce for the market.
How to Get to Rock Quarry Beach
Rock Quarry beach can be accessed via two roads. To reach the rock quarry side of the beach, you have to take the Kahili Quarry Road near Kilauea and cross the Kilauea Stream once you reach the beach.
The most commonly accessed route is off of Wailapa Road. From Highway 56 turn at Na Aina Kai Gardens sign at Wailapa road. Then, take the turn past Fehring family farm where you’ll find a dirt road and parking spot from where you can spot the beach. Here onwards, it’s a short but magical walk through a grove of trees before arriving on the beach.
As you walk along the trail leading to the beach, the waterline to your left is the Kilauea Stream that joins the ocean later on. People access this portion of the beach for kayaking along the Kilauea river and also enjoy a brief fishing session. It’s better to rent kayaking equipment from a shop elsewhere and carry it on your car.
Even though Kahili beach lacks basic amenities like restrooms and picnic tables, it is gold for beach lovers who wish to escape the crowd and spend some time in seclusion. The diverse characteristics of the beach lead to a unique experience that does not come by in the crowded, touristy beaches of Kauai.
As a precautionary measure, stay away from the ocean when the waves are above 3 feet in height, especially during winter. Absence of lifeguards calls for responsible behavior for your own safety.