Closure Of Iconic Queen’s Pond, Polihale State Park, For Restoration

As of Monday, the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) will begin a significant restoration project of unknown duration at Kauai’s beloved Polihale State Park. The focus is on preserving the area’s sensitive and famous dune system. Queen’s Pond (Poʻoahonu) will now be closed from Monday to Friday to facilitate these efforts, while the restoration area will remain open to the public on weekends.

In a press release, Alan Carpenter, Assistant Administrator of the DLNR Division of State Parks, emphasized the critical need to protect this rare dune and coastal ecosystem. “To facilitate the hauling and placement of boulders fronting the dunes, the existing entry road will also be improved,” Carpenter explained.

“The boulders [at Polihale] are intended to protect the dunes and surrounding natural resources. This action is being undertaken to prevent vehicles from driving on highly sensitive cultural sites and damaging native and endangered plants.”

Alan Carpenter, DLNR

Cultural and natural significance.

The dune formations in the Polihale area are ecologically significant and culturally important. These dunes house traditional Hawaiian burial grounds and various other natural resources. DLNR has engaged with lineal descendants of Polihale and the broader community to ensure the restoration aligns with cultural and ecological needs.

Prior Closures at Polihale and reopenings.

Polihale State Park has experienced several closures and reopenings over the past years, reflecting ongoing efforts to preserve its natural beauty and cultural significance. In 2020, the park was closed indefinitely due to severe damage caused by vehicles and overcrowding, as detailed in our article “Polihale Beach Closed Indefinitely and More Troubles Abound”. The closure was lifted later that year, with the park reopening to the public under stricter regulations as reported in “Polihale Beach Reopening Imminent”.

In early 2021, the park faced another closure to address further environmental degradation, which was covered in “Polihale Beach Kauai Closed Until Further Notice”. This closure was necessary to implement measures that would prevent future damage and ensure the park’s sustainability.

These efforts highlight the state’s ongoing commitment to balancing public access with the preservation of Polihale’s unique ecological and cultural landscape.

For further historical context, see our articles “Polihale State Park has World’s Best Secluded Beach” and “NYTimes Misses on Polihale State Park | World’s Best Secluded Beach,” which provide additional insights into the park’s significance and the challenges it has faced.

Kauai community support and compliance.

The DLNR is also seeking community support to manage and protect the area from vehicle degradation and improper use. The agency stresses the importance of adhering to park rules and respecting designated pathways. New informational signage will also be installed to educate residents and visitors about the dunes’ cultural significance and the regulations in place to protect them.

Experiences and challenges await visitors at Polihale State Park.

Visitors often describe Polihale State Park as one of Hawaii’s most breathtaking and secluded beaches, though it is among the most challenging to access. The park is located at the western end of Kauai, with miles of shoreline averaging about 300 feet from the barrier dunes to the surf line. Sand dunes along the beach can reach heights of nearly 100 feet. Accessing the park requires navigating a rugged, 5-mile dirt road, which, while best suited for 4×4 vehicles, is accessible in dry weather by non-4×4 vehicles. Check to see if your rental vehicle permits accessing this road.

Despite the difficult journey, most visitors find it incredibly worthwhile. Among a myriad of unique features of Polihale, you can expect to be captivated by the stunning views of the Na Pali Coast, the pristine beach, and the unique sand dune formations.

However, extreme safety precautions are indicated. The beach is known for its powerful currents, making swimming almost always dangerous. Additionally, there are no lifeguards, limited but improved cell service, and minimal facilities, emphasizing the importance of preparation and safety awareness when visiting Polihale.

Facilities and activities.

The park is equipped with basic amenities, including cold running water, flush toilets, and showers. Visitors should bring their own supplies, including water, food, and shade cover. Polihale is officially open to campers by reservation, and swimming is considered safe only at the now-shuttered Queen’s Pond, located towards the park’s southern end. The rest of the shoreline is unprotected from the open ocean, making activities like swimming, surfing, and snorkeling unsafe.

Historical and mythological significance of Polihale.

Polihale State Park holds a significant place in Hawaiian mythology. It is often associated with the “Land of Po,” the Hawaiian afterworld. According to legend, spirits would travel to the coastal plain adjacent to the beach, stay in a heiau (temple), climb the cliffs to the north, and then jump off into the sea to reach the mythical Po.

Moreover, Polihale is the only known location where the sea lettuce called limu pahapaha, when made into a wreath, can revive to its original freshness after drying out. According to mythology, this unique characteristic was a blessing from Na-maka-o-Kaha’i, sister of Pele and Goddess of the Ocean.

Future prospects at Polihale.

The DLNR’s restoration project aims to preserve Polihale State Park’s natural and cultural heritage while maintaining its status as a cherished destination for Kauai visitors and residents. By improving the infrastructure and educating the public, there is hope to protect this unique ecosystem for future generations.

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3 thoughts on “Closure Of Iconic Queen’s Pond, Polihale State Park, For Restoration”

  1. Polihale Beach was the very very first beach I stepped foot on when I cam to the island. And I never saw such a magnificent site. I have never been able to revisit it since the 70’s and have pictures all over home.

  2. Nothing like timing, starting a project of unknown duration right at the beginning of summer. It is too bad this project was not slated for the spring or, better yet, in the late fall, when fewer Kauai residents and visitors plan to visit Polihale. Residents who work on weekends and visitors will be bummed to find out about this sudden announcement.

  3. Aloha. Wow! Pretty soon everything will be shut down. Part of the master plan? I wonder how many people will pay for a flight to see a pothole repaired at the airport?

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