Considered a living museum and heritage site, Mahaulepu is a scenic, secluded beach that is a great day hike on Kauai’s south shore.
This area is home to many endangered Hawaiian species and is also very important in Hawaii’s history and culture. A great deal of scientific research has occurred here including excavations of ancient species remains from a cave. Monk seals are often seen sleeping along the beautiful stretch of golden-sand shoreline and also in the water along with various other marine species. During the winter months, this is a good spot to see humpback whales breaching offshore. The undeveloped Mahaulepu shoreline is rich in natural beauty with the formidable Haupu Mountain visible in the distance. The hiking trail to Mahaulepu is a fairly easy walk without too many elevation changes. The trail begins at Shipwreck Beach past the Grand Hyatt and follows the coast from Keoneloa Bay.
Beach walks, sunbathing, shore explorations, hiking, fishing, picnics. Surfing, snorkeling, bodyboarding, windsurfing, and kitesurfing for those who are experienced. Whale watching.
As the last major undeveloped area on Kauai’s south shore, this area has increased significantly as a recreational resource and pristine natural habitat. With the turquoise waters glistening in the south shore sunlight and waves crashing against the rocky headlands, a hike to Mahaulepu provides not only a great beach experience but also a journey back in time along this pristine stretch of undisturbed natural coastline. A crescent of sand on the eastern end of Mahaulepu is fronted by a rocky cliff. Just around the point is another beach that is longer and has some protection from an offshore reef. Gillian’s Beach at the western end of Mahaulepu features shallow tide pools that are fun for exploring during low tide. A rocky bluff on the eastern end of Mahaulepu provides a great lookout point where you can enjoy great views of this picturesque coastline.
Need to Know
Only swim and snorkel at Mahaulepu when the water and winds are very calm as this area is subject to strong shore break waves as well as dangerous currents that can sweep you away from the beach and leave you with no place to get back to land along the rocky shore. Appreciate this area more for exploration that watersports unless you are very experienced in the ocean. Do not disturb any elements of the landscape as this is an important historic and Hawaiian cultural area including heiau (sacred sites) that should be respected. Stay on the trail and appreciate this area without disturbing it.
The trailhead for Mahaulepu is reached by following Hwy. 50 from Hanapepe toward Lawai and turning right on Koloa Rd. just past Mile Marker 11. Continue on until you reach Poipu Road and turn right, Near the ocean the road forks and you should go left. You will see Shipwreck Beach fronting the Hyatt Hotel. The trail to Mahaulepu runs to the left along the shoreline.