Bath is a natural
rock pool on the lava shelf near the Princeville resort complex on the
north shore of Kauai. I read about it in a guide book, and as it was
quite close to Anini Beach
(where I was staying) decided to have a look.
The trail is pretty much unmarked, there is a small dirt (in Nov'04) parking lot near the start, that is one of a few paths from the Princeville resort down to the shore line. The parking lot is visible in the centre of this Google Satellite View. One of the golf greens is near the parking lot:
Typical Paradise on the Golf Course
This view of the golf course was taken from the west side of the golf course looking west, late in the day. From the satellite view it was probably taken looking between the shrubs that hide two buildings to the left of the parking lot.
Once you enter the path to the shore the world changes completely, you leave the immaculately manicured civilization of Princeville and enter a rather tame jungle, complete with a slippery red-dirt path (very slippery when wet) adorned with clutching tree roots:
A short way down the path is a little waterfall, in typical Kauai style its very pleasant and looks almost man made:
The red dirt path to the Queen's Bath
Waterfall near the Queen's Bath
Perhaps her shower?
A short way down from this you reach the shore, before you leave the jungle you are greeted by an informal memorial display and a number of hand written notices and newspaper clippings (from The Garden Island News) about the dangers of the Queen's Bath. It appears that there have been a number of drownings (when the tide was high or when rough seas were running) caused by large waves breaking unexpectedly into the bath and washing the occupants out to sea. This danger also extends to anywhere on the lava rock shelf you must cross to get to the bath, in this article it appears that the victims were not actually in the rock pool, but on the rocks above or near it when hit by a pair of large waves.
Informal Memorial Crosses
Some closeups of the notes follow.
Warning note on the ground below the surf board
Note on the surfboard
Once you leave the jungle and step out onto the lava rock shelf you will begin to appreciate why these sobering notes have been posted. The lava rock is rather tricky to walk across, and while not right at the edge of the surf (so you don't really get any feeling of "exposure") its something like a 20-30 foot drop into a very rough surf below. On the day I visited the surf was quite mild, yet you can see that there was considerable action. The following two photos are of an inlet you pass on the way to the bath, I've named this the Devil's Potty for its remarkable fill-and-flush action. The water level within this was varying about 20 feet even on a day with light surf.
The Devil's Potty Emptying
The Devil's Potty in Full Flush
Looking to the west (with the Devil's Potty in the foreground) you get this romantic sight:
Romance on the Rocks
From a photographic point of view I love the way that the shore line of Kauai often echoes itself, the mathematicians of the world would just say "yet more fractal self-similarities". I also like the atmospheric effect of the distant shore lines being faded out by the sea mists and cloud, again a common thing on Kauai.
About 5 or 10 minutes of scrambling over the unforgiving lava will get you to the bath, your first view will be something like this:
The Queen's Bath - looking west
Here a wave has just broken over the lip and is filling the bath with foam. From the south end of the pool you get this view:
Queen's Bath - looking North
While the surf entering the bath looks quite calm, within the 15 minutes or so we watched the bath, we saw a couple of events where the entrie pool was turned into a sea of foam - after the first of these the bathers left the pool.
In summary, its a pretty walk, you need good footware and need to be nimble to cross the lava, and don't bother going if the surf is up, you may end up being another tragedy.