Hanakapiai Beach is both exceptionally beautiful and exceptionally dangerous. This destination located on Kauai's Nā Pali Coast is reached by hiking 2 miles west from Keʻe Beach on the famous Kalalau Trail. The hike to the beach offers panoramic views over the ocean and Na Pali Coast, while the trek crosses over a number of streams and will take you up and down over rolling terrain.
What makes the beach so dangerous is that there are extremely strong rip currents. These currents are so strong because Kauai’s Na Pali Coast is not protected by any reef to reduce current strength. To highlight this danger, as you hike out to the beach from the Kalalau Trail you will see a sign tallying the number of people that have been killed by the ocean currents. While the 80+ tallies carved into the wooden sign are thought to be exaggerated, a local newspaper reported that approximately 30 people had drowned at the beach from 1970 to 2010.
The reason why you don't see any open, sandy beach in the photographs is because the beach itself is usually covered by high tides and rolling waves in winter months. During the summer, tides are lower and the beach sand is exposed.
The word Hanakāpīʻai literally means "bay sprinkling food" in Hawaiian.