Lawai Beach Surf Breaks: PKs, Centers and Acid Drops

Prince Kuhio’s Beach (commonly known as P.K’s) is a five-minute drive south from Poipu Beach. P.K’s beach is well known as a great spot for snorkeling, fishing and it is the island’s top surfing playground during the summer months. Located at the water’s edge of Prince Kuhio hotel’s perfectly manicured lawn, there are shady spots to delight in and grassy areas to bask under the sun while enjoy the display of high-level surfing from three of the islands best southern surf breaks, it is definitely a show worth watching.

What’s in a name: Kuhio translated into Hawaiian means  “Chief who leaned forward as he stood”. The beach is named after Jonah Kūhiō Kalanianaʻole (1871 – 1922) who was the prince of the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi and the direct heir of the last ruling chief of Kauaʻi. 

Directions and Parking:  P.K’s beach is directly across from the Lawai Beach Resort and Prince Kuhio’s Hotel in the midst of Kauai’s South Shore. Parking is limited, there are clean bathrooms, a freshwater fountain, a working payphone and an outdoor shower.

Water Sports

Snorkeling: A slice of warm sand under one big tree is all there is between an abundant reef that stretches out from the beach swarming with tropical fish and plenty green sea turtles. During the winter, the conditions are glassy with little exposure to sea currents because the shape of the reef that hugs the beach and protects its swimmers. Beware of stepping on the long-spined venomous Sea Urchins, or “Wana” (pronounced ‘vah-na’ in Hawaiian), they spread out abundantly over the reef’s turf.  If you step on one, dipping your foot in white vinegar is a good home remedy that helps dissolve the urchin’s spikes.  While snorkeling, it’s common to spot green sea turtles feeding on ‘limu’ or seaweed. In Hawaii turtles are called “Honu”.  They are vegetarians that are the most valuable of all reptiles, fortunately, they are no longer hunted in Hawaii since 1978 when the Hawaiian green turtle was placed on the endangered species list.

Fishing: P.K’s pebbled beach is great for beach casing and shoreline fishing, except when the waves are up and the place quickly turns into a surfer’s playground.

Surfing: The waves come to the South during the summer months. The southern swells normally start by late May until September. P.K’s beach offers waves for all levels of expertise, ranging from beginner to intermediate, to expert only during high wave advisories. The wave starts breaking as a left point called ‘Smokeys’, it breaks left until it reef forms and turns into ‘P.K’s’, the consistent as a wave-pool steep right, that is often checkered with talented grommet’s attempting aerial maneuvers across its ramp-like form. 

A higher level surf break in the middle of the bay is appropriately called ‘Centers’. Further south, there is an expert-only break called ‘Acid Drops’ that is know for its hollow barrels, and a paddle even further, there’s an even gnarlier surf spot called ‘Heroines’. 

Because the surf conditions can change drastically, always check the surf forecast before going out and never swim alone.

Shade: There are a few shaded areas during the early morning, but as the sun rises they quickly disappear and there is nowhere to hide from the scorching sun but a few slim palm trees. It is highly recommended to bring a beach umbrella, tent or source of shade if planning on staying for a long time.

Food: “Riptides Shave Ice & Snacks” food stand has a succulent menu with local food choices like: organic fruit shave ice, smoothies, warm coffee, Hawaiian style hot dogs, ice cream, cold drinks and treats. It is open Monday through Saturday 11am to 5pm “Hawaiian Time”.

Annual Events:  Every summer, since 2012, Volcom sponsors The LIVE LIKE SION GROMFEST at P.K’s Surf break. The contest celebrates the life of Sion Milosky, Kauai’s native big wave charger who died while surfing Maverick’s on March 16, 2011. 

The grassroots event focuses on family core values and the love Sion had for the ocean. This year marks the 9th LIVE LIKE SION GROMFEST, tentatively scheduled on August 7th 2020. 

Historical Fact: When Prince Kuhio was in grade school, his French school teacher Pierre Jones said, “He is so cute, just like the pictures of the little cupid”. The nickname, “Prince Cupid” stuck with Prince Kūhiō for the rest of his life. 




For surf report check PK’S WEB CAM

PC: Andrea Gaytan



Mary Winnick

Mary Winnick

Mary Winnick is a writer, editor and web project manager based in the San Francisco Bay Area. She operates on two simple assumptions: Everyone has a story to tell. And a story well-told will always find an audience. Her work is characterized by exceptional clarity, depth and insight – no matter the topic covered. Haiken writes for AFAR, Forbes, Via, Yoga Journal and many other national magazines and websites. To view other articles on Hawaii by Mary click here.
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