Current conditions at Salt Pond Beach Park
Beach & Nearshore
Location: West of Pūʻolo Point, Hanapepe.
Description: Salt Pond Beach is a wide pocket of white sand that lies between two rocky points. A natural ridge of rock in the ocean joins the two points, creating a large saltwater pool between the beach and the ridge. The ridge is broken in many places, providing good circulation in the pool. Beyond the beach and ridge is a wide expanse of reef. Seasonal surf forms on the reef. Facilities include restrooms, showers, picnic pavilions, and parking.
Precautions: During periods of high surf, potentially dangerous rip currents form in the openings of the natural ridge. Swim nearshore if the surf is up. There are no lifeguards stationed here.
Highlights: Salt Pond Beach Park attracts many families with children to its protected, pool-like swimming area. It is also a popular surfing and windsurfing site. Surfers ride several breaks on the reef, and the prevailing trade winds provide good conditions for windsurfers. During periods of calm seas, snorkelers and scuba divers also frequent the reef.
Salt Pond Beach Park is unique in Hawaiʻi not so much for its ocean recreation activities as for its rock salt, salt that is produced when sea water evaporates in small, shallow ponds adjacent to the beach. This traditional method of making salt has been practiced here for many years and has changed little since precontact times.
Saltmaking is a summer activity that is dependent on extended periods of dry weather and hot sun. Rain disrupts the process and dilutes or dissolves the drying salt. Saltmaking begins in May when the ponds are cleaned of debris and filled with salt water. After several days the water evaporates, leaving crystallized salt in its place. The salt is raked into a mound in the pond and allowed to drain briefly. It is then removed and stored under cover where it can drain and dry completely. The final product is bagged and used as needed. The process is repeated continuously throughout the summer.
Most of the ponds at Salt Pond Beach Park are supervised by Hui Hana Paʻakai, an organization whose members are permitted by the state to manufacture salt there. Most of the group's members have been working these ponds since they were children, continuing a tradition that was practiced by their forebears and handed down to them. The salt they make is for home consumption and is not a commercial product.