Honopu Beach & Valley
One of the most dramatic and mysterious sections on the Napali Coast is Honopu, which consists of two pristine white-sand beaches, backed by steep 1,200’ cliffs and separated by the famous 90’ Honopu Arch. The name Honopu means “conch shell” in Hawaiian, because of the sound the northerly winds make when they blow through the arch.
Because it’s extremely difficult and dangerous to access, most visitors to Hawaii will never step foot on the beach at Honopu. Boats and even kayaks are not permitted to land on the beach, so anyone wanting to go has to literally swim there, which is quite dangerous given the strong rip currents and pounding surf.
This is just as well since Honopu is most definitely sacred.
Archeological evidence discovered in the 1920s suggests that a human population flourished in this valley but then disappeared suddenly, which is why Honopu is sometimes called the Valley of the Lost Tribe. It’s also rumored in some circles that Honopu Valley was the last home of Kauai’s fabled Menuhune tribe of little people.
Legends aside, we know for certain that the Honopu cliffs were used as burial sites for ancient chiefs that ruled along the Napali Coast. See, Hawaiians believed that their chiefs were direct descendants of gods and that their bones contained powerful amounts of the gods’ mana or life force. It was imperative to bury a chief’s remains in a secret location because it was believed that the mana contained within could be used against the tribe if discovered by the wrong people. Thus, when a chief died, a capable warrior was designated for the honorable yet fatal task of burying his bones. Yes, honorable yet fatal. The warrior would climb hundreds of feet up the steep cliffs, a search for a suitable cave in which to carefully place the chief’s remains. When the warrior was satisfied with the placement of the remains, he’d jump to his death, thus securing the location’s secrecy forever.
Let that sink it!
It’s said that, to this day, the bones of these warriors can be found in the sand dunes, underneath the cliffs, after being exposed to heavy rains or winds.
Despite the regulations the Department of Land and Natural Resources enforces to limit visitors and respect Honopu’s sacred history, they’ve made several exceptions for Hollywood. Movie scenes have been filmed at Honopu for the 1976 remake of King Kong, Six Days Seven Nights, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Honeymoon in Vegas and Jurassic Park 3.
Unless you’re Steven Spielberg or Harrison Ford or Johnny Depp, you might just want to get a ride out to Honopu and admire it from offshore with us, Holo Holo Charters, on one of our daily Kauai boat tours of the Napali Coast.