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May 14, 2006
From journal Kauai
November 9, 2004
There is awesome snorkeling if the conditions are right. There are really two beaches here, the larger one that the trail leads to and another one around the lava outcropping at the east end of the beach. At low tide, and low surf conditions, it is possible to wade (use reef shoes) around the lava rock to get to a smaller and more private--albeit rocky--beach. There is a private path to this section of the beach from some condos on the cliff too. It is possible to make it around the lava rock at higher tide, but expect to get wet, very wet, and some might get a little freaked out by the wave action pushing you onto the sharp lava rock. The bigger beach can be surprisingly crowded. The smaller beach is much more private.
From journal Heavenly Kauai Vacations
January 26, 2003
The path for Hideaways is near the gatehouse for the Princeville Hotel, next to a miniscule 10-space parking lot provided for beachgoers. The narrow path runs alongside tennis courts and then down concrete steps which end abruptly halfway down. The remaining trail involves negotiating the steep slope down to the beach. Some public-spirited soul had tied a long rope to the end of the step handrail the last time I was there, providing a much easier descent.
Hideaways is well worth any effort, though. It's a lovely crescent of coarse golden sand fringed by autograph trees providing welcome midday shade. The snorkeling is excellent when conditions are calm, and sea turtles frequent the edges of the reef. It never gets crowded here, and early in the day we’ve even had the place to ourselves. Of course, there are no facilities; furthermore, this is not a good spot for the foolhardy, as in high surf rip currents can form that could pull a swimmer out to sea. (Next stop, Samoa.) Always observe the wave action carefully before venturing out. More people drown yearly in Hawai’i than in any other state.
The path to the second spot, Queen Emma’s Bath, is off Kapiolani Road. Keep an eye out for another 10-car parking lot set among the houses. A sign which laconically reads "trail" points to a path (again, slippery after rain) that passes a lovely waterfall before leveling out on a rugged lava shelf. The "bath" is about a 10-minute hike over the lava rocks.
The surf pounding onto the shore is a magnificent (and somewhat intimidating) sight, but the bath itself is usually tranquil. Note that word "usually." There’s a small inlet in the rocks encircling the bath, allowing water to spill into the pool. On days of high surf, this "spill" becomes a crashing torrent.
The first time we visited Queen Emma’s bath, the pool was serenity itself, shared only by a bearded fellow who politely asked whether we minded if he swam nude. This, we gathered, was his early morning ritual--who were we to demure? The second time we visited, monstrous waves were crashing over the lip of the pool. A group of young daredevils was tempting fate by leaping from the rocks above into the pool, nearly getting swept out to sea as water funneled powerfully back out through the inlet. There was much whooping, splashing, and calls of "Man, you gotta try this!" directed at a cluster of girls, who were no doubt practically overcome with admiration.
Ah, "immortal" youth. Give me the occasional middle-aged nudist any day.
From journal Hanalei, Hana Hou!