Hawaii, USA: Polihale Beach, Kauai, Standup Paddle-Surf Session

Enjoy pristine conditions, low crowds, and punchy waves at one of Hawaii’s most remote–and deadly (sharks, no lifeguards, and powerful winter swells)–beaches. This is the veritable end-of-the-road on Kauai’s westernmost shore, at the southern end of the legendary Na Pali Wilderness coastline. Polihale means “house-bosom”, and was considered the sacred source of life by the ancient Polynesians–who also happened to invent the great holistic sport of surfing. Queen’s Reef (which forms Queen’s Pond in the summertime when things settle down a bit) is located just a little bit north of Major’s Bay. I have personally spent many fine days in solitude/near- solitude in this general area hiking, surfing, and swimming. Typical winds are sideshore (try nearby Mana Point when those days happen), but when they swing offshore this is a spectacular reef break offering primarily fast rights, but a few nice lefts do come through.
On this magical day, a critically-endangered Hawaiian Monk Seal (Neomonachus schauinslandi) hauled out onto the beach for a sunbath and a rest while I was out surfing. There are less than 175 of these nomadic creatures left on the planet, so I felt extremely fortunate for the encounter. Folks who might happen upon one should stay far enough away so as not to disturb the animals or alter their behavior.