Located along Kauai’s Nā Pali Coast, Hanakapiai Beach is one of the world’s most gorgeous beaches. It’s also one of the deadliest.
The secluded beach is only accessible via the Kalalau Trail, and is approximately a two-mile hike from the trail head, which begins at Ke’e Beach.
After making the trek, to reach Hanakapiai you must cross the Hanakapiai River, which flows down from the soaring cliffs and meets the ocean. The river can oftentimes be dangerous due to the current and murky water. There’s even a sign posted to warn visitors of the risks involved with enjoying such a magnificent place on the island. The sign not only warns of the danger involved, but it also lists the number of deaths that have occurred on the beach. Roman numerals are carved into the wood sign to keep track of those who have perished.
This place is literally a death trap.
Despite the warnings, people still make the deadly mistake of thinking they can handle the ocean, mainly because it looks calm enough to go in. What they are unaware of is that the strong currents can drag someone out to sea in just a matter of seconds. Once the beach ends, all that remains are miles of coastline and jagged rocks. The nearest safe shore is about six miles away. Due to the remote location and lack of cell service, getting emergency help is usually not an option.
To understand the magnitude of just how treacherous swimming here is, the currents are allegedly so powerful that there are more than 15 drowning victims whose bodies have never been recovered. It’s simply not recommended to do anything that involves getting in the water at this beach. Yes, this means even dipping your feet in the water or wading up to your waist.
Although many people desire to jump into the water after the hike to cool off, it’s never worth it. Before visiting this pristine coastline, it’s imperative to do your research beforehand and make sure to respect the ocean.