The hiking book: The Ultimate Kauai Guidebook
The distance:  about 1/4 mile down to the beach, then maybe another 1/4 mile to the lava pools
The CityGirls rating:

All along the north coast of Kauai are lava rock beaches where the tides and waves have worn large water-filled craters into the lava rock. These hollowed-out lava pools fill with fresh ocean water when the tide is high, and when the waves die down, they become lovely ocean-side swimming pools.


And what’s better than paddling around an ocean-side lava rock swimming pool? Having it all to ourselves, of course.

We were captivated by the description of Secret Beach in our guidebook: “a stunningly beautiful beach only accessible via a 10-15 minute hike,” with golden sand and a view of the Moku’ae’ae Island bird sanctuary. And even better, a lava tidepool and “the most perfect bathing pools on the island.” Yeah, we just had to go see.


Okay, okay, you can’t see the golden sand in this photo, but you can see the lighthouse and bird sanctuary in the distance.

Like many of the “secret” places on Kauai that are listed in guidebooks, this beach wasn’t so secret at all, with groups of people constantly traversing the steep trail down to the beach. But there was still plenty of room to spread out and enjoy the sun and sand without feeling crowded.

The waves were pretty rough along the beach. T-Bell tried to frolic a bit, but the waves were big and forceful, and the steepness of the beach led to a strong undertow as each wave receded.

The real star of the day, though, was the lava shelf at the far left of the beach.


We scrambled over some large lava rocks to find ourselves on a pocked, undulating surface of lava. Here and there, we saw small pools of ocean water. Some with little fish swimming around as the waves lapped into the pools.

Making our way to where the shelf ended at a wave-crashing inlet, we found the secret lava pool, an irregularly-shaped pool of water with a ledge a few feet under the water and a deep, clear, green center.


The ledge and much of one side of the pool were covered by slippery algae and water plants, but we found a clear spot where we could climb in. The water was calm and clear; warm at the edges of the pool and deliciously cool in the middle where it was more than six feet deep. And so we swam and soaked, with ocean waves crashing on the rocks just a few feet away.


Another family had wandered past us as we just reached the lava pool, but they kept going up to the bluff above the lava shelf, so we had the place all to ourselves. Just us, the clear, still water, the little fishes, and the sea.


Ease of following designated hike: 8.
Best season to hike: A visit to the Secret Lava Pools requires calm seas, which pretty much limits this hike to sumertime.
Our hike time: .5 hour hiking time, unlimited swimming and sunning time.
Solitude: 6. We lucked out and had the lava pool all to ourselves, but there were a fair number of people on the beach.