Juliette Binoche once said, “What I like most of this crazy life is the adventure of it.” This is exactly what I was thinking while hiking to Queen’s Bath on the island of Kauai.
Queen’s Bath, Kauai: Adventure, Jungle, and Ocean
Adrenaline rush, new experiences and discoveries are just a few things you can expect from any adventure. For some, the adventure includes a visit to desert on the hottest summer day. Others skydive, climb mountains, and participate in extreme sports to build their confidence and tolerance for the unknown. Whatever the reason, the adventure rewards you in many ways and helps you learn what you are capable of. I had one of my most unforgettable moments during a hike to the Queen’s Bath on Kauai.
Queen’s Bath, Kauai
I didn’t expect the solo hike down a muddy trail to one of the hidden beaches of Kauai to be such an adventure. Located in picturesque Princeville on the north shore of the island, the infamous Queen’s Bath doesn’t resemble a typical sandy beach with lush tropical greenery in the background.
Formed primary of large black lava rocks, the Queen’s Bath is one of the least safe places on the island. The impressive lave shelf, towering 10 to 15ft above sea level, can create illusionary sense of security. However, this safety vanishes at once in the face of deadly surf with smashing 4ft and above waves. These gigantic waves are known for sweeping over the rocks and pulling unfortunate vacationers into waters. Unable to get out of the ocean, people have drowned after being swept off the rocks.
Although the biggest surfs usually happen in winter, from October through May, the unpredictable high waves can arrive at any season and any time of the day. It’s not recommended and often highly discouraged to visit the Queen’s Bath without checking the surf report beforehand. And it’s definitely advised to stay away from the edge when visiting the Queen’s Bath.
Is Queen’s Bath Worth It?
Why then so many people hike to the Queen’s Bath despite the potential danger? The answer to this question is hidden in waters of this natural tide pool on the north shore of Kauai. Separated from the ocean by the lava rocks, the unique pool received its name after the mother of Prince Albert who, reportedly, used it once as a bathing place. Years passed by since Princess Louise of Saxe Gotha Altenburg bathed here, but the Queen’s Bath, an immortal witness of the island’s history and its natural beauty, still allures all kinds of adventures, ocean whisperers, and nature lovers.
Adventure and Jungle
I started my adventure completely unaware of the deadly history and dangerous side of the Queen’s Bath…
My husband, baby, and I were driving for a little bit over an hour in attempt to find Secret (Kauapea) Beach. It was late afternoon when we finally reached a narrow road on the left hand side of the entrance to Kilauea Lighthouse. We hoped it was the way to the beach. My iPhone showed 4:03 p.m, and alas, the road was closed, and so was the entrance gate to the lighthouse. After exchanging a few words with other unlucky visitors, we headed out to the nearest attraction on the north shore.
A mere 15 minutes-drive took us to the Queen’s Bath trailhead. It took us one quick glance to realize that there was no way to carry the baby down the slippery path. So, we decided I would hike alone.
Starting as smudged stairs, the path very soon turned into a narrow, steep, and extremely slippery trail. It could be more appropriate for sledding (never mind the absence of the snow) if not for massive tree roots, sticking out all over the trail.
“The roots are your friends. Hold onto them.” Without comprehending at first what a slender woman with covered with mud hands and feet meant, I took her advice seriously. This tip helped me complete the hike to the Queen’s Bath without slipping down even once.
As I went farther into the jungle, I met a few other adventurers, mostly hiking in small groups of 3 to 6 people. After a cheerful “Hi”, my new acquaintances quickly shared other tips on how to conquer the Queen’s Bath trail. Some of them even offered a helpful hand when at one point I was stuck between two roots. Those who, despite their best effort, had fallen in the muddy puddles on the path, were joking about their bad luck. I laughed with them, but at the same time was holding tighter onto those trees. The possibility of walking around covered with mud from head to toe didn’t look appealing to me.
Halfway through my mini Hawaiian journey, I spotted first out of two Queen’s Bath Waterfalls. The tumbling from 15-30ft height water ended in a small, tranquil pool. The dense vegetation hid this little gem from any outsiders, not willing to get down the muddy path. Raw and unspoiled, the upper waterfall was a perfect spot to rest and regain strength before resuming the hike.
Approximately 7 minutes later I found the second (lower) waterfall that looked more like a stream. This one was open to the surf and strong winds blowing from the ocean. Its waters were plunging into a churning inlet, surrounded by the cooled volcanic rocks. The place was beautiful, but the infamous Queen’s Bath continued beckoning me.
Queen’s Bath at Last
The Queen’s Bath is a natural tide pool, resembling a large swimming pool, separated from the ocean by the huge rocks. From time to time, the ocean water spills over the lava rocks to refresh the water in the pool. The Queen’s Bath is also home to small fish and sea creatures such as Hawaiian sea urchins and angelfish.
Open to the wind and big North Pacific surf, the “lava beach” amazes with its uniqueness and roughness. It’s definitely not a place to lie on beach towel and sunbath. This place is good for the adventure, hiking, and maybe swimming, although I wouldn’t recommend it.
Approaching the famous Queen’s Bath, I couldn’t stop gazing at massive mountains, towering over the ocean in the far. In the dimming light of the evening they appeared less green and dustier with their peaks already hidden in foggy clouds. I couldn’t ask for a better place to end the day!