Salt Pond Beach, Hanapepe

Salt Pond Beach Park

Salt Pond Beach Park, which is named for its traditional Hawaiian salt collecting beds, is located on Kauai’s western shore.  If you are traveling along Hwy 50, heading west from Kalaheo, after passing Hanapepe town turn left onto Lele Road or Hwy. 543.  Protected by natural lava rock ridges as waves break outside the reef, Salt Pond Beach is perfect for little keiki.  Shallow pools and lagoons are perfect for swimming, snorkeling, and tidepooling.  Furthermore, this lifeguarded beach offers amenities such as restrooms, showers, and pavilions.




Adjacent to the Salt Pond Beach are the The Salt Flats.  This delicate area is restricted, unless you have been invited by a member of a salt making family.  Making pa’akai or Hawaiian sea salt is an ancient cultural practice that is passed down from generation to generation.  Kauai is the only place in Hawaii that makes salt according to the ancient traditions which are all done by hand.  

Looking from a distance, you may see the salt patch or lo’i filled with rows of oval salt beds which are lined with clay.  These shallow beds allow for the evaporation of seawater and produce this prized sparkling salt.  Held in respect, the salt is never sold; it is only given away.  The Hawaiian salt is used for cooking, seasoning, preserving food, medicinal purposes and in cultural blessings.  The season runs from May-September; the amount of harvested salt depends on many natural variables such as the sun, ocean tides and weather conditions.

Salt beds, Hanapepe

On the Salt ponds side of the beach, the beach in this area is reddish-golden from the clay that lies beneath the water.  If you want to access this part of the beach, it is recommended that you walk from the main beach.  Although you may see vehicles lined up on the sand and parked along the fenceline, please avoid trying to park here (If you do access the beach from the back side, do not drive right on the beach as it damages the sand dunes that protect the salt patches from high surf.)  A paved parking lot that is next to the salt beds can be used.

 At this part of Salt Pond Beach, my sons were entertained by the red and greyish clay in this area. They were running it through their hands and trying to break it apart with rocks.  Also, there were many fish in this lagoon as my husband took the boys to look at the different types of fish found in the shallow waters.  We were even able to Find Nemo (a clownfish) that happened to come in with the tide and a plethora of other reef fish.




Salt Pond is a great choice for a day at the beach with your keiki.



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PLAYGROUNDS

BEST BEACHES FOR KEIKI

THINGS TO DO

Kilauea Point Lighhouse and National Wildlife Refuge

At the Kīlauea Point National Wildlife Refuge you will encounter unprecedented sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean.  The contrast of colors in this landscape is amazing with the deep greens and browns of the cliffside, to the blacks of the rocks, to the vibrant bright blues of the ocean.

LEARN & DISCOVER

There are many things to take notice of and engage the keiki in.

1. BIRDWATCHING

Seabirds are everywhere, hugging the cliffs, hovering above you, hiding from you, and even walking amongst you. Observation scopes are located throughout the pathways and binoculars are available for the keiki to use. Just sign them out and return when you are done.

Observation scopes
Hovering Seabirds

2. WHALES, DOLPHINS, NENE, & MONK SEALS

Besides the opportunity see seabirds in their natural habitat, there are also opportunities to see other wildlife such as whales and dolphins, endangered Nene, and Hawaiian monk seals. On this particular day, the Nene were approaching nesting season. Therefore, we were able to observe mating behaviors such as them “talking” to each other and acting territorial. We have also seen whales during whale watching season which runs from November-May. Dolphins can also be spotted from the lookout areas and are usually most visible during the summer months.

3. NATIVE PLANTS

Along the property there are informational picture boards which provide a visual inventory of what to look for. Walking up the pathway to the lighthouse, take notice of the abundance of native plants. Try to have the keiki match the picture and the description with the plants around you. The easiest one to identify is the native Napaka shrub. It has waxy green leaves with white flowers that have five petals and looks like a half-flower. Your keiki can reach these along the path and feel the surface of the leaves for the texture.

There is a Hawaiian legend that goes with this half – flower that you can tell your keiki. One version is about a royal princess who fell in love with a commoner from the mountains. Together the princess and the commoner traveled up the mountain in distress. The kupuna told them that there is nothing that he could do so that they could be together.  So as a token or rememberance of her love, the princess took the flower from her ear and tore it in half telling the commoner that he must go by the water and live.

Since then, the Naupaka flower only bloomed in half-flowers where one-half can be found near the sea and it’s counter-part found in the mountains.  Some say that if you find one of each flower and put them together, you reunite their love and it can bring you good luck. The Naupaka plant can easily root near sand and rocks and is found along most of the beaches on Kauai as it prevents erosion.  

4. Kilauea Point Lighthouse

The historic Daniel Inouye Lighthouse is another highlight. Tours are offered on certain days and times of the week, so if you are interested in actually going up into the lighthouse, plan ahead. Children need to be 44 inches tall for this activity.




Admission

Admission for children 15 and under are free and adults are $5 per person so this is a great bargain.  If you are a L.O.C.A.L. (Kamaaina) you can purchase a yearly pass for $20 that allows entry for 4 people.  Only cash and traveler’s check are accepted as forms of payments, so make sure you bring some cash.  The Refuge is closed on Sunday and Monday and open Tuesday – Saturday, 10:00 am to 4:00 pm so plan accordingly.


Bookstore

On the way out, there is a great bookstore that offers books and gifts or information to reinforce anything that your keiki may have been interested in


Nesting Shearwater

Getting There

Heading north on Kuhio Hwy. from Lihue pass through the towns of Kapaa and Anahola.  The next town is Kilauea (look for the gas station on the right) and turn right onto Kolo Road.  Pass the gas station and make the first left onto Kilauea Road.  The refuge is at the end of this scenic road, about 2 miles in.

I had this old photo from 2008, when my family visited!


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Turtle Watching on Kaua’i’s South Shores

Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles

On the South Side of Kaua’i, you will have your best chance to view Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles as there are many vantage points standing  along the shoreline.  The South Shore’s rocky shoreline is lined with seaweed, seagrasses, and rocks that are covered in algae which provides food for hungry turtles.  This environment provides a natural feeding area for turtles, who can tear grasses and scrape algae off rocks with their sawlike beaks.  In turn, Green Sea turtles contribute to maintaining the homeostasis of these reef environments by eating the algae.  

Views from Koloa Landing also Known as Whaler’s Cove

The area that we like to bring our keiki to for viewing Green Sea Turtles is Koloa Landing also known as Whalers Cove.  If you are staying at the  Koloa Landing Resort, there is an access path through the hotel that leads directly to this spot.  Whenever we stay at Koloa Landing, we make this an evening family activity.  From the hotel, cross the street carefully to the boat ramp entrance. If driving, when approaching the south shore, take the roundabout exiting Poipu towards spouting horn.  Then make the first left towards the Sheraton hotel.  You will see the boat ramp entrance on the right.


At the base of the ramp, there is a viewing area to the left that doesn’t take much maneuvering to get to.  The evening we went, there were a plethora of sea turtles that came right up to the shoreline at this spot.  Evenings are the best times to view the Green Sea Turtles in action.




 On a different visit, the boys decided they wanted to climb the rocks and head to the cove on the right.  My 5 year old was able to do this on his own as my 4 year old succeeded with a little help from dad.  Once you reach the edge of the cove, there are flatter rocks to stand on.


We spotted one large Sea turtle camouflaged into rocks across the cove.  Nonetheless, we also viewed 2-3 sea turtles as they swam by us.  These were mostly submerged slightly below the water and appeared as shadows until a head or arm poked through to the surface.  My boys kept yelling, “brother, brother did you see that!” in excitement.  If you don’t feel like making the short trek down the ramp, you can also park on the side of the road near the lava rock wall and view from the overlook.

Camouflaged Sea Turtle



Other Viewing Spots

Other spots along the south shore that provide viewing points are Brennecke Beach which is located to the left of Poipu Beach Park.  Lawai Beach located across from Lawai Beach Resort and next to The Beach House restaurant also offers another up close vantage point.  There is a lawn fronting the Beach House restaurant with a walking path that follows the shoreline.

Another spot is the walking paths behind The Point at Poipu.  These walking paths behind this hotel, which hug the shoreline, connects with the Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort and Spa on the right.  (See Hotels We Love) We have also spotted Green Sea Turtles while at Baby Beach in Poipu which is protected by a rocky shoreline (See Best Beaches For Keiki – Baby Beach, Poipu) for a video of the encounter.  

Shores behind The Point at Poipu leading and walking path to Grand Hyatt Kauai

The Hawaiian Honu is of symbolic importance and represents navigation, wisdom, and good luck.  Legends tell of a Honu who transformed into a young girl and performed as a guardian protecting the keiki from enemies.

Remember, Green Sea Turtles are protected by state and federal laws (See 10 Things You Should Know About Kauai) so keep your distance and use common sense.  Do not try to feed, touch, ride, or harass sea life.

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