This is the beach at the end of the road in Haena State Park. Kuhio Highway ends at the parking lot for the beach. The parking lot isn't large so plan to get there early in order to avoid having to park back down the road and hoofing it back to the beach. The beach is beautifully situated with Bali Hai towering overhead marking the start of the spectacular Na Pali coastline. The trailhead for the Kalalau Trail is also here to the left of the parking lot. Not to be missed is the very short hike to the Kaulu Paoa heiau for a glimpse into Hawaii's ancient past.
Tunnels is a spot for snorkeling and swimming on the North Shore because of the extensive reef fairly close-in that protects it from the larger surf that one experiences at some of the other beaches. During high-tide, however, the waves will tend to wash over the reef and warnings and even prohibitions can be posted on this beach. Because of the reef the sand near the water is filled with tiny shells which provides a nice, relaxing, and lazy pastime while on the beach. Ke'e and Haena Beach Park are much more just sand and shells are not as plentiful.
The beach offers a scenic view of Bali Hai and Haena Beach Park towards the west. A walk to the east will take you around a small point from which one can spot ocean turtles (honu) when the light is just right. Beach access is limited as is parking as there is no dedicated parking lot. There is a side street off of Kuhio Highway that is pretty much the only place to park right at the beach. All the parking will be taken by 10am. Otherwise you can park at Haena Beach Park and walk 400 yards to the west to get to Tunnels.
Haena Beach Park
Traveling west on the Kuhio Highway after passing the Hanalei Colony Resort, the first main beach you'll come to is Haena Beach Park. It has a parking area, bathroom facilities, and a grassy park area. It also has a lifeguard tower which can come in handy due to the strong surf that can be experienced here. There's usually a food truck in the parking lot as well which is the only source of prepard foods this side of Hanalei. They make a pretty good shave ice.
Maniniholo Dry Cave
Located opposite Haena Beach Park on Kuhio Highway, this large cave was craved out by the strong pounding surf thousands of years ago when this cliffline was right along the coast. Visitors can walk the several yards to the back wall of the cave which is surprisingly well lit by the large opening. Hawaiian legend states that this and the two wet caves in Haena State Park were dug into the cliffside by the goddess Pele as she searched for a home on the North Shore. I guess it would have been a vacation home since her actual home is on the Big Island.
Waikanaloa Wet Cave
Located just east of the parking lot at the end of the Kuhio Highway, this wet cave was craved out by the strong pounding surf thousands of years ago when this cliffline was right along the coast. While visitors can walk into the extent of the Maniniholo Dry Cave, this and the nearby Waikapala'e Wet Cave have deep pools of cool water. Hawaiian legend states that these two wet caves and the Maniniholo Dry Cave were dug into the cliffside by the goddess Pele as she searched for a home on the North Shore. I guess it would have been a vacation home since her actual home is on the Big Island.
The Waikapala'e Wet Cave, is accessed via a walk uphill from the overflow parking area at Ke'e Beach
Kaulu Paoa Heiau
A short 5-10 minute hike through almond trees over a rocky trail, this ancient Hawaiian ritual site has great views of the ocean. Heiaus are considered sacred places where kahuna (priests) performed various rituals and offerings to gods including animal and human sacrifices. Only the kahuna and ali'i (high chiefs) were allowed to enter the heiau. Today heiaus are still considered sacred places by the native Hawaiians where ritual ceremonies are still held.
This heiau is dedicated to Laka, the goddess of hula. According to the Lonely Planet guidebook a hula school operated here which was considered Kauai's most sacred school and was attended by students from all the Hawaiian islands. Volcanic rocks that shore up the level grassy terraces and other walls at the site are what remain. Visitors are likely to see rocks wrapped in ti leaves, fern wreaths, and other objects which have been left as offerings to Laka. Visitor's should respect the placement of these offerings and for no reason disturb them.
Ha’ena Beach is located on the north shore of the island. It’s popular with campers, in fact, had we our tent with us we would have set up camp here for a night. There are showers and facilities here. Dry Cave is located directly across the street.
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Dry Cave is located directly across the street from Ha’ena Beach. Though the cave itself isn’t deep, the mouth is quite wide. There isn’t much to explore here but it’s a quick little diversion if you’re in the area. I wouldn’t recommend going out of your way to see it, though.
The Wet Cave is located further down the road from Ha’ena Beach and the Dry Cave toward Ke’e Beach. As with the Dry Cave, I wouldn’t go out of your way to see this but if you’re in the area it only takes a moment to pull over and check it out.
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