Attractions

Hawaii State Public Libraries

There are six libraries on the Island of Kauai: Hanapepe, Kapaa, Koloa, Lihue, Princeville and Waimea and 50 branches in the State of Hawaii. What’s unique about the Hawaii system is that you can borrow a library book at any library in Hawaii and return it to any other. Non-residents can get a library card for 3 months for $10 or 5 years for $25. For information please click here.

The Hawaii State Public Library System offers free Wi-Fi access to cardholders in all of their branches.

The Hawaii State Public Library has a mobile app. The app can be used to browse the HSPLS catalog, scan a barcode from a book, DVD or CD to check availability, view a list of checked out items and renew items, view a list of reserved items and place and cancel holds, and check account information such as items borrowed, due dates and fines.

You may borrow as many books and cassettes as you want and ten of VHS, DVDs and CDS. You can request items from any other branch. You will be penalized $1 if you do not pick up a requested item.

It is a fantastic system.

Makauwahi Cave

Makauwahi Cave is located at Mahaulepu Beach and not many people even know it’s there and they are missing out! If you head to the south end (cliff side) of the beach there is a creek that flows into the river, take a right and head over the small bridge. You will see a small hole in the the wall — you may think when you get there that you’ve gone the wrong way, but don’t worry you’re not lost. You just have to simply crawl through the small crevice that opens into the magnificent Makauwahi Cave.

This massive cave and sinkhole is considered to be on the richest fossil sites in the Pacific. The sinkhole is the main attraction at the 42-acre Makauwahi Cave Reserve. Dr. David Burney, a paleoecologist who manages the reserve, was among the first to begin excavating in the cave since 1922. Since then, this collapsed chunk of earth has showed scientists a view of the last 10,000 years of Kauai’s history.

The sinkhole’s layers of sediment have preserved records of floods, hurricanes, droughts, a massive sunami, the pollen of extinct plants, and lots and lots of bones, including those of several extinct animals like the moa-nalo, an endemic flightless duck, and a giant owl species.

The reserve offers free guided tours of the cave four days a week, during which visitors can see some of the fossils and artifacts that have been unearthed over the years — from bones and shells to early Hawaiian fish hooks and tools. Guests can also visit with the several giant tortoises that roam the area, serving as natural lawnmowers for the area’s invasive species.

So make sure when you are looking for something to do in Poipu, to put the Makauwahi Cave at the top of your list. Especially since it’s a great thing for the whole family.

Kauai Museum

“History” isn’t a word that necessarily exudes excitement, more-so drawn-out speeches and grainy, black-and-white photos. Can it be boring? Well, sure, but that’s just me and my hours of lecture classes talking. Besides, not many people care to put effort into learning about what has already happened hundreds of years ago; people want to focus on the “now” and what’s to come ahead. Except, eventually you realize everything, both present and future, is the result of the precedence. Take a look at Kauai; you see the towns, the people, and the culture mix, they’re all a result of historic events. Imagine if Hawaii’s monarchy weren’t overthrown in 1893, can you picture the islands not being a part of the U.S and still being ruled by kings and queens? Crazy, right? There’s one place on Kauai to learn about this and so much more.

The Kauai Museum is located on Rice Street, just a few minutes away from the Lihue Airport. The dated, but timeless, architecture make it instantly recognizable for passersby. The museum is open everyday, except Sunday, from 10 am to 5 pm. Inside you will discover various artifacts, exhibits, and murals, ranging from the ancient Hawaiian times, early sugar plantation life, and World War II. There is a gift shop for special keepsakes to take home. History can be a fun experience by being just that, an experience. Visualize traveling to Machu Picchu, the Pyramids of Giza, or Stonehenge, they create wonder and interest because it’s all right there in front of you. That’s what museums look to accomplish, to give the perception of physically stepping back in time.

Spouting Horn

Spouting Horn is a blowhole located on the southern coast of the island along Lawai Road. Waves cause water to rush under the lava shelf and spout high into the air as it is forced up through a narrow tube in the rock. High tide and sunset are the best times to view Spouting Horn.

There used to be an adjacent blowhole called Kukui’ula Seaplume; however, it was blasted away in the 1920s by a sugar plantation owner who did not like the salt spray damaging his crops. As a result, the blowhole only blows air which is emitted with a loud groaning sound.

Legend states that this is actually the voice of a large and very hungry mo’o (lizard) who is trapped under the rock. The mo’o once guarded the coastline and ate anyone who tried to fish or swim there. It is believed the blowhole was the escape route of Liko, a man who once dared to swim there and who narrowly escaped through the hole when the mo’o attacked him. The mo’o chased him into the hole and, subsequently, got stuck. The moaning and groaning sounds you hear are the hunger pangs of the starving mo’o who is trapped under the rock forever!

It is very dangerous to venture out on the lava shelf or get too close to the blowhole.

Kilauea Lighthouse

Kilauea Point NWR was established in 1985 to preserve and enhance seabird nesting colonies and was expanded in 1988 to include Crater Hill and Mklea Point. The refuge is home to the historic Kilauea Point Lighthouse. The lighthouse was built in 1913 and has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places. It is situated on Kauai’s northernmost point and was used as a navigational aid for commercial shipping between Asia and Hawaii for 62 years.

The refuge is home to some of the largest populations of nesting seabirds in the main Hawaiian Islands. Every year, thousands of seabirds use the refuge for nesting, foraging and resting. You can view Laysan albatross, red-footed boobies, brown boobies, red-tailed and white-tailed tropicbirds, Pacific golden plovers, great frigate birds and wedge-tailed shearwaters. The refuge is also home to nene, an endangered species of goose endemic to the Hawaiian islands. Nene were reintroduced to the refuge in the 1990s and are making a comeback. Nene is the official bird of the state of Hawaii.

Kilauea Point is a popular place to watch whales in the winter! Besides the beautiful views, visitors may have an opportunity to see spinner dolphins, Hawaiian monk seals, green sea turtles (honu) and humpback whales (kohala). Visitors can learn about various Native coastal plants that have been restored on the refuge such as naupaka, ilima, hala, aheahea, and akoko. The endangered plant restoration program is giving species such as the rare alula a chance to survive in Kilauea Point’s environment.

Kilauea Point is the remnant of the former Kilauea volcanic vent that last erupted about 15,000 years ago. Today, only a small U-shaped portion remains, including a spectacular 568-foot ocean bluff. The Refuge is located 2 miles north of Kilauea town. Approximately half a million people visit the refuge each year to enjoy one of the greatest places on earth to observe seabirds and the endangered nene. Observation scopes and binoculars are available to see them up close and personal. Interpretation and education programs are available with volunteers and staff on site to assist you in identifying wildlife, as well as an information center and bookstore.

Bali Hai

Kee Beach, part of Haena Beach Park, is located at the “end of the road” on the North Shore of Kauai.  Makana Mountain, better known as Bali Hai,  provides a phenomenal backdrop to this ethereal lagoon-like beach that is perfect for swimming and snorkeling in the summer months. The 1958 film adaptation of the musical South Pacific, featured Makana Mountain as an exotic and forbidden island called “Bali Hai” and the name is still used to this day!  Makana rises 1,115 feet (340 m) above Limahuli Valley. Makana means “gift or reward” in Hawaiian. Limahuli Garden and Preserve preserves the valley below.

Just before Kee beach is the Kalalau Trail trailhead, an 11-mile (18 km) foot path that is the only land access into the Na Pali Coast State Park. The area surrounding the beach is vegetated by ironwood trees, coconut palms, ti, and guava.  There are several ancient Hawaiian sites in the Haena Beach Park Area, including sea caves estimated to be more than 4,000 years old. Archeological sites associated with the hula, including a heiau (shrine) dedicated to Laka, are located above the park’s beaches.

Hanalei Pier

Hanalei Pier is located at the mouth of the Hanalei River. This section of beach fronts Black Pot Beach Park, a popular camping area for local families. There is a small boat ramp where you can launch kayaks to paddle the Hanalei River.

Hanalei Pier has been used in numerous films including Bird of Paradise (1950) and The Wackiest Ship in the Army (1960). The beach on either side of the pier was the principal filming location for most of the beach scenes in South Pacific (1957). The Hanalei Pier was originally built of wood in 1892 and used to unload goods that arrived in Hanalei Bay by ship. In 1921 the wooden deck was replaced with concrete and the pier was extended. A shed roof was first built at the end of Hanalei Pier in the 1940s.

Today Hanalei Pier is a popular gathering place for local fisherman. Tourists and locals gather to watch the surf and the sunset and the keiki “children” take great pleasure using the pier as a launching pad into Hanalei.

Napali Coast

Please read the information about the reopening of the park in June of 2019.

The Na Pali Coast is a very special place. The pali, or cliffs, provide a rugged grandeur of deep, narrow valleys ending abruptly at the sea. Waterfalls and swift flowing streams continue to cut these narrow valleys while the sea carves cliffs at their mouths. Extensive stone walled terraces can still be found on the valley bottoms where Hawaiians once lived and cultivated taro.

Enjoy the incredible beauty of the Napali coast by boat, helicopter or for the fit and adventurous on your own two feet!

The trail is graded but almost never level as it crosses above towering sea cliffs and through lush valleys. The trail drops to sea level at the beaches of Hanakapi’ai and Kalalau.

The Kalalau Trail is an 11 mile trail that leads from Ke’e Beach to Kalalau Beach.

Originally built in the late 1800s, portions of the trail were rebuilt in the 1930s. A similar foot trail linked earlier Hawaiian settlements along the coastline. For most backpackers in good condition hiking the 11 miles will take a full day.

Kokee Museum

The Koke’e Museum is the one-stop visitor center for Waimea Canyon & Koke’e State Parks. It is operated by Hui o Laka, a nonprofit organization that seeks to preserve the beauty and essence of Koke’e. Although admission is free, donations are always welcome and appreciated. The museum is open every day from 9 AM to 4:30 PM; knowledgeable staff and volunteers will be able to help you decide on hiking trails and advise you on current conditions and hazards to ensure your day out will be a safe one. The museum also has a mini gift shop that contains collections of Hawaiian books, Kauai-made jewelry, hiking sticks, and exclusive t-shirts.

You may inquire about volunteer opportunities at the museum or contact the email and number below. Kokua Koke’e is the name of the forest conservation program and is guided by the Hui o Laka staff. Kokua translates to “help,” and by joining their team, you will work on beautifying trails, lookouts, and assist in the renovation and preservation of the Civilian Conservation Corps Camp (CCC Camp). All ages are welcome; the volunteering schedule will vary.

Aside from forestry services, you may support the Koke’e Museum by getting an annual membership with Hui o Laka for as little as $20 a year. Benefits and privileges include a 10 percent discount on purchases in the museum shop, being able to stay at the CCC Camp, and the ability to vote at the Annual Members Meeting.

info@kokee.org
(808) 335-9975

WaiKoa Plantation

Wai Koa Plantation, a working farm on 500 private acres, is located in the town of Kilauea on the North Shore. It began in 2007 when Porter Irrigation started supplying water to the farmers on Wai Koa by channeling water from the Kalihiwai Reservoir, the only active reservoir in the area. Over the next several years, guava trees were removed and replaced with the largest mahogany forest in the United States.

In 2010, the Porters began a new chapter of community service by completing and opening Kauai Mini Golf. Shortly thereafter, the Wai Koa Loop Trail was opened to the public, providing the community with free access to the historic Kilauea Stone Dam. The dam was completed in 1880, during the height of the sugar plantation era and received a prestigious Historical Site Award in 2004. The 5-mile loop trail winds through Mahogany trees and offers peaceful lagoons, a secluded swimming hole and panoramic views of Mt. Namahana.

For those of you looking to do something ‘off the beaten path’  the Wai Koa Plantation is for you. Starting at the Kauai Mini Golf in Kilauea back parking lot you will find The entrance to the 500-acre manicured ‘working farm’ is found in the back parking lot of Kauai Mini Golf in Kilauea.

It states that the trail is intermediate, however, it is more of a beginner trail, just a bit longer. There are fascinating signs and stops along the way, educating you about the Farm and the history of the Plantation. You will walk thru the largest Mahogany plantation in the United States and see where Kauai Fresh farms grow their delicious avocados. You will also stop in the middle at the historic stone damn. A magical place with manicured gardens and a babbling brook. This damn is about halfway through the hike and the perfect place for a picnic and a swim.

Depending on your speed the hike takes approximately 2 hours, longer if you stop for a picnic. Bring WATER, comfortable walking shoes, sunscreen, snacks, your bathing suit and your camera!

Kokee

From mauka to makai and back on up again. The beauty and excitement of Kauai extends as far as the sandy beaches of Poipu to the tip-top of Mt. Wai’ale’ale. It’s hard to completely take in all that is Kauai if you’re just sitting on a beach, but when you’re 5,000 feet above sea level, there, can you truly capture the vastness of this tiny rock in the middle of the ocean.

A great place to experience this side of Kauai is from the Koke’e State Park; it is located on the West Side of Kauai, North of Waimea town. Koke’e offers visitors an excellent spot to explore an estimated 45 miles of hiking trails; you will be able to witness valley lookouts, lush rainforests’, and swampy terrain. To learn more about the different hikes, click here. Those who have an interest in the geology, ecology, and climatology of Kauai, may want to checkout the Koke’e Museum. Visitors can gain some valuable tips on the surrounding area as well as information on volunteering to aid the forestry services. If you want to know more about the Koke’e Museum, click here. If you get an appetite while up in Koke’e, make a stop at the Koke’e Lodge, right across to the museum. It’s a fully operating restaurant that provides a place for visitors to unwind after a long day out adventuring or for those that are just preparing for the trek ahead. You may even inquire about cabin rentals if you’re thinking about spending a night in the wilderness.

One thing to remember, this is a fair warning: you will lose cellular service once up at Koke’e. That can’t be a bad thing, right?