Trip Date 08/23/2017
Posted On 05/22/2018 09:23:02
Destinations | Hiking | Hawaii | Kauai | Queen's Bath | Grove Farm | Glass Beach | Black Sand Beach
On our last day on Kauai, we crammed in as many of the places that we had not already seen as was humanly possible. We should have tracked our mileage for the day - we headed up to northern Kauai in the morning and ended our day in southern Kauai. It's a good thing that the island is only about 24 miles from top to bottom!
If you are in search of a few more of the "out of the ordinary" sights in Kauai, this post is for you. From a hike, to a tour of a sugar plantation ($20.00), to some unusual beaches, and even an unexpected 100+ year old cemetery, read on for some more unusual places to see while you are visiting the garden island.
Hiking to Queen's BathWe started the day with a hike to Queen's Bath located in Princeville. When we arrived at the trailhead, we were greeted with a large list of "dangers" which included:
- Many people have drowned here.
- It can be dangerous during any season.
- When north shore surf is high, it is very dangerous. NO ONE should be here!
- Even when the surf seems calm, a rogue wave can catch you by surprise.
- Never turn your back to the ocean!
- The trail is not maintained. Tripping and slipping is common.
- Rescuing injured persons can be very difficult and dangerous.
- Please recognize YOUR risk-taking puts others at risk!
After the recent rains, the 0.6 mile hike down was moderately difficult as the path was quite slippery (plus, the numerous warnings may have had an impact on the difficulty of the hike - in my mind, at least!). The good news was that the many tree trunks which covered parts of the path provided a helpful place to brace one foot while searching for a safe and stable spot to land my next step. We passed a small waterfall part way down the path before reaching the lava rocks leading to the bath.
As we passed the waterfall, we finally had a view of the ocean and the rocky base that we would soon be hiking across.
Once we got near the base of the actual trail, we were confronted with another warning sign - a sign updated with tally marks to indicate 28 deaths! I read that there were a total of seven drownings over the course of more than 40 years, and that the signs were meant to be a deterrent - not sure what the true story is?
I'm not sure how successful the sign has been at deterring guests from crossing the large rocks, however I can attest to the fact that it deterred at least one person - me! By the time we reached the rocky base and the final part of the hike to the bath, our time was becoming more limited due to a 1:00 PM pre-scheduled tour. I decided that I was going to feel too rushed crossing the rocks just to get a quick glimpse of the bath before turning back for our return hike up (followed by our post- hike to the car).
At least one of us got a view of Queen's Bath, a natural tidal pool about the size of a large swimming pool surrounded by lava rock - the queen needs some privacy you know! The "bath water" is refreshed by water spilling over the lava rocks.
I was glad that I went down as far as I did as I appreciated the view of the waterfall from down near the lava rocks.
Tips for Parking Near the Queen's Bath TrailheadIf you have the time, this hike would be best done on a day when you are planning to be on the northern part of the island:
- Queen's Bath trailhead is in an exclusive neighborhood with an extremely limited number of parking places for hikers. The 10 or so parking spaces near the trailhead fill up early. If you don't want to wait until someone leaves (or add more distance to your hike), this should be your first stop of the day, and you should plan for an early morning.
- Respect the numerous "no parking" signs posted throughout the neighborhood as it is well patrolled by area law enforcement.
- If you don't mind extra walking, you can consider heading back to the main road to find the large parking lot near Makai Golf Club. Avoid the section of the lot closest to the highway (it is clearly marked "employees only"), however the back section of the lot had plenty of open spaces during our visit. Although it adds nearly 1.5 miles to your round trip hiking distance, the pre-hike to the trailhead was far less strenuous than the 0.6 mile hike down to Queen's Bath.
Grove FarmOur timing was perfect to complete our return hike back up to the trailhead, walk back to our parked car and make the drive south for our tour of Grove Farm. After paying the $20.00 per person required donation, a woman, currently a resident of Kauai, led our group of four around the historic grounds and buildings which comprised the farm. She pointed out photos and historic artifacts, shared stories about life on the plantation and answered our many questions.
The tour was almost exactly two hours in length, so we were fortunate to still have some time to squeeze in a little more sightseeing.
Glass BeachWhile in the hotel hot tub one evening, a couple from Houston told us about both a "glass beach" and a "black sand beach" on Kauai, so I just had to see them. Luckily both were on the southern shore and not too terribly far from Grove Farm, so our mission was to find these two unique beaches - our final two stops on the island (other than dinner and refueling our rental car, of course). Our first stop was at Glass Beach located in Ele'ele very near the industrial area. The beach was a small one and reached by a dirt road (definitely off the beaten path). When we arrived, only two others cars were in the very small dirt parking lot.
From a distance, the "sand" looked pretty common, however up close, it was unlike any other beach that I have seen. The small pieces of glass are apparently the result of an assortment of broken glass objects (bottles, flasks, windshields, etc.) that were left as trash. Through the course of several decades, "sea glass" was the result of the movement from the ocean's waves which continually break the glass into smaller and smaller pieces while simultaneously smoothing out the sharp edges. The small and relatively smooth pieces that made up the beach were in a wide variety of colors, some translucent, including blues, browns, greens, reds and whites.
McBryde Sugar Plantation CemeteryAs we returned to our car, we noticed some markers that, from a distance, appeared to be headstones sitting on the ledge overlooking the beach. We took a short walk to get a closer look, and confirmed our suspicions. After several internet searches, I came upon an article which provided some information about the 100+ year old McBryde Sugar Plantation Cemetery. A single gravestone was found on the plot overgrown with grass and weeds about four years ago, and after considerable work, additional headstones were uncovered.
Lucy Wright Black Sand BeachOur very last stop on our Hawaiian vacation was at Lucy Wright Black Sand Beach. Named after the first native Hawaiian schoolteacher, the beach had darker sand than all other Kauai beaches that we saw, however it was not the deep black color that we've seen on Hilo and Kona beaches. Other than one homeless person, no one else was at this historic beach where, in 1778, Captain James Cook reportedly set foot on the islands of Hawaii.
While I'm sad for this part of our trip to come to an end, I feel so fortunate for the time that we were able to spend on Kauai.
Tips for the Beaches and CemeteryWhile the glass beach, cemetery and black sand beach are all interesting to see, they are most likely not places where you will want to spend much of your day:
- Glass Beach was very near the launching point for our Na Pali Coast Sunset Sail. If you plan to enjoy one of the many sailing opportunities leaving from Port Allen, plan brief visits to both Glass Beach and the McBryde Sugar Plantation Cemetery either before an evening sail or after a morning sail.
- Less than ten miles away from the glass beach, Lucy Wright Black Sand Beach is an easy and short drive to the west.
Grove FarmIf you enjoy history and guided tours, check out our post titled "A Glimpse into Life on a Sugar Plantation" for a more detailed overview of our visit to Grove Farm.
QuestionWhat is the name of the beach with the most unusual "sand" that you've ever seen, and where is it located?
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