At the end of a dusty drive through winding sugar cane roads, you will find a beautiful sandy beach carved into a rocky point, a beach astonishing in its wild beauty, the surf crashing against the rocks and sand, the churning turquoise water almost glowing with sunlight. Beautiful it is, but often not safe enough for swimming. Unless surf on the whole south shore is flat, you may find the waves crashing with enough force to knock you down, and currents powerful enough to make even local people wary.
Mahaulepu is a lovely beach for walking and exploring. On the eastern end, a lovely half-moon of golden sand nestles at the base of a rocky cliff. Around the point, an even longer stretch of beach is protected by an offshore reef where the waves roll in long, even swells.
You might see a fisherman casting his line or even a swimmer snorkeling among the rocks if the sea is calm. When the tradewinds are strong, windsurfers splash color on the sparkling sea.
At the westernmost end, at Gillins Beach, you will find a new house built on the spot where plantation manager Gillin once lived. Sunwarmed tidal pools are shallow and still, and kids can catch tiny fish in nets.
At the far eastern end of Mahaulepu is a rocky bluff. After a moderate uphill climb, you will come to a promontory with spectacular views of the coastline, and incredible rock formations and sea pools sheltering interesting pools of tiny sea life. Though more people are discovering Mahaulepu, it's still the best hidden beach on the south shore.
For more beach reviews, consult your Kauai Underground Guide.