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. There are a number of shallow pools and lagoons for swimming, snorkeling, and tidepooling. 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 son’s 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.
Remember to follow the beach safety guidelines, check surf and weather reports for current conditions, and observe posted signage. Keep a constant watch on keiki who are playing in or around the water. Never leave children unattended. Small children should wear safety floatation devices unless they are avid swimmers and are being closely supervised.
Kauai with Keiki is a resource for visitors to Kauai who are bringing children, given from a L.O.C.A.L perspective, Loving Our Community and Lifestyle.