Posted by: kauaikolea2 | April 6, 2012

Listen! Waves Roaring, Sand Singing….

One of the nicest things about vacationing on Kaua’i — and there are many to choose from — is the roar of the waves.  We love to sit on the beach during the day and be mesmerized and calmed by the periodicity of the waves breaking on the sand.  At night, we love to keep our lanai doors open, screen doors in place, and fall asleep to the same gentle rhythms.

The sound of waves on island is a given, but did you know that Kaua’i also has sand that sings?

Singing sand?  Actually, we call it barking sand.

First, a physical geology lesson!

On some beaches around the world, dry sand will make a singing, squeaking, whistling, or barking sound if a person scuffs or shuffles their feet with sufficient force. The phenomenon is not completely understood scientifically, but it has been found that quartz sand will do this if the grains are very well-rounded and highly spherical. It is believed that the sand grains must be of similar size, so the sand must be well sorted by the actions of wind and waves, and that the grains should be close to spherical and have dust-, pollution-, and organic-matter-free surfaces. The “singing” sound is then believed to be produced by shear force as each layer of sand grains slides over the layer beneath it. The similarity in size, the uniformity, and the cleanness mean that grains move up and down in unison over the layer of grains below them. Even small amounts of pollution on the sand grains reduces the friction enough to silence the sand. Others believe that the sound is produced by the friction of grain against grain that have been coated with dried salt, in a way that is analogous to the way that the rosin on the bow produces sounds from a violin string. It has also been speculated that thin layers of gas trapped and released between the grains act as “percussive cushions” capable of vibration, and so produce the tones heard.

Not all sands sing, whistle or bark alike. The sounds heard have a wide frequency range that can be different for each patch of sand. Fine sands, where individual grains are barely visible to the naked eye, produce only a poor, weak sounding bark. Medium-sized grains can emit a range of sounds, from a faint squeak or a high-pitched sound, to the best and loudest barks when scuffed enthusiastically.Water also influences the effect. Wet sands are usually silent because the grains stick together instead of sliding past each other, but small amounts of water can actually raise the pitch of the sounds produced. The most common part of the beach on which to hear singing sand is the dry upper beach above the normal high tide line, but singing has been reported on the lower beach near the low tide line as well.

Barking Sands Beach is on the west (dry) side of the island of Kaua’i, and is located on the grounds of the Pacific Missile Range Facility. Barking Sands Beach is part of the 17-mile-long beach that extends from Polihale Beach to Kehaka Beach.  These beaches are near the west end of Highway 50 (Kaumualii Highway). If you plan on visiting Barking Sands Beach, remember that the beach is within the perimeter of a United States military facility and you may not be able to get to the beach.  You may wish to call them at 808.335.4221. or 808.335.4229 to check if the gates are open on the day you wish to visit.

When you do get to Barking Sands, you will need to find dry sand and try to make the sand talk or bark at you!  You will have yet another story to tell about your Kaua’i vacation.

Come, stay with us at one of our affordable luxury Kauai vacation rentals.  You can see all our properties and book safely on line 24/7 at



  1. […] Listen! Waves Roaring, Sand Singing…. ( […]

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