Our Favorites

 

Just about any place on Kaua'i is beautiful. It's all up to you. Some are convenient, with clean restrooms and access, but have more people. It's seems that the difficult places to reach are the most stunning and free of crowds. We would be happy to give you more feedback on the locations around our island. It's important to us that you make the best use of your time here on Kaua'i.

SMITH'S LU'AU
Location: South

 

HISTORY

In 1946, Walter Smith, Sr. and his wife, Emily, started our family business with a small rowboat and a borrowed outboard motor. Four generations later, we continue Grandpa’s tradition of sharing our love of Kauai and its rich cultural heritage. During the two mile river journey, you’ll hear songs and stories of ancient Hawaii — like the King’s Highway, sacred Mount Kapu, and the First Hau Tree. In addition, guests enjoy learning the hula during a lesson provided by a young hula dancer. Everyone gets into the act during the river cruise! Smith's famous Wailua River cruise boats are powered by an ingenious rear-engine system invented by Walter Smith, Sr. The spacious, open-air boats provide excellent views from either side during the trip upstream. The Wailua River is known as “the only navigable river” in all Hawaii. The river’s fresh water pours down from Mt. Wai‘ale‘ale, one of the wettest spots on the planet. Lands along the river were the sacred capital of ancient Kauai and the birthplace of the island’s ali‘i, or royalty. At the Fern Grotto landing, you’ll enjoy a short nature walk through the rainforest to the lush Fern Grotto. The Fern Grotto is a geological wonder of Kauai. Ferns grow upside down from the roof of the grotto, which was formed millions of years ago. Native Hawaiian plants and colorful exotic tropical plants provide a rain-forest atmosphere.

 

SMITH'S TROPICAL PARADISE

This lush 30-acre botanical and cultural garden provides an idyllic escape to enjoy Mother Nature’s creations. The garden is centrally located on the east side of Kauai, known as “The Coconut Coast,” within the Wailua Marina State Park. Only minutes from the main highway, but far removed from traffic noise, this beautiful location is perfect for an afternoon picnic or garden stroll, and is home to Kauai’s most popular luau. View over twenty types of fruit in the Tropical Orchard including breadfruit, star fruit, jackfruit, macadamia nuts and soursop. Wander the Bamboo and Fruit forests or enjoy the colorful attraction of the Flower Wheel and Flowering Tropicals areas. Set amidst this natural backdrop are replicas of Polynesian and Filipino huts. 

KILOHANA
Location: South

 

PRONUNCIATION

KEE-LO-HAH-NAH

 

MEANING

"Kilohana" translates to "lookout" or "high point" (wehewehe.org)

 

HISTORY

In 1935, Gaylord Parke Wilcox, head of Grove Farm sugar plantation, decided to build his dream home with his wife, Ethel. He hired Mark Potter, an architect highly respected for his Diamond Head homes, to design the Tudor-style home that would become Kilohana. The 16,000 square foot mansion was the center of a 26,000 acre sugar tract and served as the family homestead for many generations. The home was richly crafted with fine woods and Art Deco detailing. Lumber and materials arrived by barge from the West Coast, with detailed moldings from England. Beautiful pine wainscoting and coffered ceilings graced the living room, hallways, foyer, library and staircase. Hawaiian artifacts were proudly displayed along with rare artwork imported from the Orient and the island kingdoms of the Pacific. Upon completion it was the most expensive home ever built on Kauai and it served as both a working homestead and host to many exuberant social gatherings and important diplomatic meetings.

 

Severely damaged by Hurricane Iwa in 1983, the home has been completely restored and today the original public spaces are filled with notable Hawaiian antiques, paintings, and carpet all reflecting the lifestyle of the Wilcox family. Visitors are encouraged to explore the home’s original and restored features while discovering rooms that have been repurposed as shops, galleries, restaurant and lounge.

MAHA'ULEPU
Location: South

 

PRONUNCIATION

MAH-HAH-OO-LAY-POO

 

MEANING

And Falling Together

 

HISTORY

Maha`ulepu, Kaua`i is a beautiful heritage place. Revealing 5 million years of continuous history, this undeveloped watershed is a living museum - a research site and habitat for rare and endangered plants and animals. Maha`ulepu is sacred and legendary to Native Hawaiians, many of whom are connected to this area by ancestral ties and by continuing cultural uses including fishing and gathering. In a rapidly urbanizing region. Maha`ulepu remains an important agricultural place. Maha`ulepu is a vitally needed recreational retreat, a source of renewal and connection to family and local culture for Kaua`i residents. Maha'ulepu is constantly under threat of development by Grove Farm and owner, Steve Case. http://malama-mahaulepu.org/

 

ACCESS

From the Hyatt, it's a 20-minute bumpy dirt road, 5-15 minute easy hike

 

NOTES

Gates are open around 7am and close around 6pm, but plan your stay that you check the times at the gate and leave the beach with enough time to reach the gate fifteen minutes prior to the stated close time. There is a LARGE fee to have someone open the gate (Approximately $650)

KEONELOA
Location: South

 

PRONUNCIATION

KAY-OH-NAY-LOH-AH

 

MEANING

Long Sand (AKA: Shipwrecks, Shippys, Shipwreck Beach)

 

HISTORY

Between 200 and 600 A.D., early visitors arrived at Keoneloa Bay, meaning long sand, likely from the Marquesas Islands. They used the area as a temporary fishing camp, leaving behind stone-age tools, remnants of heiau, or temples, and ahu, or altars. They prayed to Kane`aukai, an important fishing god. - poipubeach.org. Makawehi & Pa‘a Dunes: The eastern sand dunes of Makawehi, "calm face", and Pa‘a, "hard rock", yield fossilized plant roots, bird bones, crab claws and other treasures. Prior to extensive wave erosion, this prominent limestone ridge extended across Keoneloa Bay. During March through November, water birds visit and sea birds nest and roost in the dunes. - hmdb.org

 

ACCESS

Easy access, limited parking

 

NOTES

The cliff in the background you might remember from the movie "Six Days, Seven Nights" with Anne Heche and Harrison Ford.

HYATT
Location: South
 

ACCESS

Easy access, ample parking

 

PRIVACY

Limited

KEONELOA - WEST
Location: South
 

PRONUNCIATION

KAY-OH-NAY-LOH-AH

 

MEANING

Long Sand

 

HISTORY

Between 200 and 600 A.D., early visitors arrived at Keoneloa Bay, meaning long sand, likely from the Marquesas Islands. They used the area as a temporary fishing camp, leaving behind stone-age tools, remnants of heiau, or temples, and ahu, or altars. They prayed to Kane`aukai, an important fishing god. - poipubeach.org.

 

MAKAWEHI AND PA'A DUNES

The eastern sand dunes of Makawehi, "calm face", and Pa‘a, "hard rock", yield fossilized plant roots, bird bones, crab claws and other treasures. Prior to extensive wave erosion, this prominent limestone ridge extended across Keoneloa Bay. During March through November, water birds visit and sea birds nest and roost in the dunes. - hmdb.org

 

ACCESS

Easy access, limited parking

 

NOTES

This site is near The Point (Embassy Suites), away from the crowds of the Grand Hyatt

PLANTATION GARDENS
Location: South
 

HISTORY

Kiahuna Plantation Resort, in Poipu, is built on the grounds of what used to be the plantation manager's estate for Hawaii's first sugar plantation, Koloa Plantation. The historic manor house, dating back to the early 1930's, now houses the resort's front office and restaurant. The plantation manor, and about two acres of land, was originally a wedding gift to Alexandra "Sandie" Knudsen and Hector Moir from Sandie's father. The newlyweds moved into the manor house shortly after their wedding in 1930. Hector was employed by Koloa Sugar Company, and in 1933 became Manager of the company, the oldest sugar plantation in the Territory of Hawaii, having been founded in 1835. With Hector's new position, the manor house soon became the hub of plantation society on Kauai's south shore. As there were no hotels or restaurants of any size on the island, most entertaining done at home. The Moirs hosted many social gatherings, such as sit-down dinners and cocktail parties. The men wore coats and ties, and the ladies dressed in evening gowns. The house comfortably held 150 guests, and the parties – sometimes elaborate themed costume parties – often took months of planning.

 

The original house was a U-shape structure enclosing a patio. It was built of lava rock from the land, and consisted of a living room with fireplace, a dining room, pantry, kitchen, three bedrooms, two baths, and a maid's bedroom and bath. The wash house, storeroom, and garage were to the east of the house in a separate wooden building. The land had been cleared of the scrub brush and koa haole that was predominant in the area. All that was left was lava rock and three trees: two Java plums and a monkey pod. Sandie Moir started the now-famous gardens as a hobby. The first improvements were two groupings of water lily ponds: one in front of the house and one to the south-east. The first plantings were of tropical plants such as ginger, heliconia and others that required lots of water. Unfortunately, it soon became apparent that these plants would not thrive in an area with such low rainfall. Eventually, the Moirs purchased additional land surrounding their lot. Another grouping of ponds was built, along with new plantings of cactus and succulents, which thrived. Sandie found that dry land exotic plants did well in the arid climate of Kauai's south shore. Throughout the years, she continued to supplement the garden with rare and exotic cactus, succulents, trees such as coconut, wiliwili, and kou, and a section for orchids and bromeliads. The garden was lovingly landscaped with cascading pools and lava rock. By 1948, the garden had drawn international attention and was classified as "one of the ten best cactus and succulent gardens in the world," ranking with the likes of Huntington Gardens and the Royal Gardens of Monaco.

 

The Moirs received many requests for garden tours, and finally in 1954 opened the gardens officially to the public. They were open seven days a week and every visitor was given a guided tour of the grounds by Hector or Sandie themselves, sometimes assisted by their son Eric ("Iki"). The garden supported itself with the admissions paid, and by the mid-1960's thousands of people a year were visiting the "Pa'u a Laka Garden." (The gardens were named Pa'u a Laka after the ancient Hawaiian name for the area. It means "skirt of Laka," the Hawaiian goddess of hula.) The gardens have been acclaimed in publications worldwide, including Life and Sunset magazines and numerous newspapers and gardening journals.

 

In 1968, the Moirs retired from their "garden operations," moving to Phoenix Arizona, and leasing the manor house and land to a mainland corporation. Eventually Kiahuna Plantation Resort was built on the land surrounding the manor house and garden. Today, the Kiahuna staff cares for and maintains the gardens, which are open to the public, free of charge, seven days a week. The Moirs had one child, Eric "Iki" Moir, born in 1931. He married and he and his wife Beryl had four children. It is with Beryl Moir's kind, caring direction that Plantation Gardens Restaurant exists today. She has provided guidance and donated letters and numerous family photographs to help us tell the history of this wonderful home.

KUKUI'ULA HARBOR
Location: South

 

ACCESS

Convenient location, good parking and several photo location options. This harbor is a favorite with families, fishermen and kids jumping off of the small dock.

SECRET WATERFALL
Location: South

 

ACCESS

Limited parking to two vehicles. Muddy and slippery conditions. Five minute walk through muddy and slippery areas to waterfall. Mosquitoes are abundant. For waterfall photos, you will need to walk through a short crossing to the waterfall, up to your knees in water. Once to the waterfall side, you will need to scramble over slippery rocks to your sitting place. You will get wet.

 

NOTES

A memorable, adventurous experience

KAHEKA
Location: South
 

PRONUNCIATION: KAH-HEH-KAH

 

MEANING

"Kaheka" translates Pool, especially a rock basin where the sea washes in through an opening and salt forms; salt pan.

 

ACCESS

Limited access, limited parking

 

NOTES

This small beach has been called "Baby Beach"

BEACH HOUSE
Location: South
 

ACCESS

Valet parking

 

PRIVACY

Public Restaurant. Back in the 70's, this was the location of the Tahiti Long House. This area is also known as "PKs" or Prince Kuhio.

KUKUI'OLONO JAPANESE GARDEN
Location: South
 

ACCESS

Easy access and parking

 

PRIVACY

Events need to be reserved at the Kukui'olono Club House. This ensures privacy for portraits and weddings.

WAIMEA PLANTATION
Location: West
 

HISTORY

The flourishing sugar company built cottages in the early 1900s for its employees and their families. Today, they are enjoyed by people from all walks of life who come alone, as couples, in groups of family or friends. Here, time can stand still and one can enjoy the relaxing surroundings, the beauty of nature, and the many activities Kauai has to offer. The cottages are appointed with period furnishings of mahogany, rattan or wicker. Each cottage is unique and has been created or restored to retain a charming historical simplicity.

 

ACCESS

Ample parking

 

PRIVACY

Semi-private cottages

 

THE HISTORY OF KAWATE FAMILY

(Excerpt from the Waimea Plantation Cottages web site)

 

I write this history as if I were one of the Kawate Family. I am not really a Kawate. I did spend my first 18 years (1932-1950) as a pseudo-member of the “family.” The Hawaiians would call me a “hanai” son. The Kawate family home was only a two-minute walk from my home, “The Manager’s Estate” on the beach at Waimea. The Kawates were my “second family.” When my parents were away, I lived with the Kawates. When my parents were there, I was often staying at the Kawate home anyway.

 

There were three sons and we grew up like we were brothers. There was “Kenneth” (Kaziuki), the oldest, then “Buster” (Tsutomu), and finally “Bear” (Shoichi). Bear was just a bit older than I. So I was the “baby” of the family. Mama-san Kawate’s name was “Tamayo” and she was a second mother to me. Papa-san was just called “Kawate,” even though his Japanese name was “Kazumi Kawate.” He just wanted to be called “Kawate.” As children we were instructed to call him “Kawate,” period!

 

I admired the Japanese customs and especially their food. The Kawates participated in annual “Bon Dance” ceremonies. They ate a lot of fish and rice. We often fished together. I admired their games like “Hanafuda” also known as “Sakura.”

 

Best of all was the evening bathing, ending in a “furo” (redwood hot-tub). There was a pecking order. The first to bathe was always the oldest and on down to the youngest. The bathhouse had a shower in the middle of the room and a “furo” (redwood hot-tub) in the corner. The furo was heated daily by a charcoal fire outside the bathhouse under the furo. It was a ceremony, just heating the furo. One had to be totally clean from the shower and only then, could one climb into the furo to soak. I was always last, as the youngest, so the water was not boiling hot as it was for the first person.

NA 'AINA KAI
Location: North
 

PRONUNCIATION

NAH EYE-NAH KEYE (like "eye")

 

MEANING

Lands by the Sea

 

HISTORY

The founders of Na ‘Aina Kai developed their extraordinary artistic and horticultural vision based upon their strong love for the land and the people of the tropics.

 

NOTES

Spanning 240 acres, Na ‘Aina Kai is a living mosaic of diverse and bounteous gardens, a hardwood plantation, a moss- and fern-draped canyon, and a pristine sandy beach stretching between a meadow and the aquamarine waters of the Pacific. Gracing the gardens and wild areas throughout this once-private estate are more than 90 bronze sculptures, one of the nation's largest collections

KAUAPEA
Location: North

 

PRONUNCIATION

KOW-AH-PAY-AH

 

MEANING

Unknown. Kaua (war), Pe'a (several meanings: A cross or to cross. Bat. Starfish. Sail, as of a canoe. Forks or branches made of stalks of feathers bound at their bases. Boundary. Kite. Tileaf thatch bundle. Sacred house).

 

ACCESS

Steep 15-minute hike to beach.

 

NOTES

History of being a nudist beach due to its' past seclusion. No restrooms.

PALI KE KUA
Location: North
 

PRONUNCIATION

PAH-LEE KAY KOO-AH

 

MEANING

"Pali" translates to "cliff". "Kua" translates to "back" or "mountain."

 

NOTES

This beach is a short, but steep walk from the Pali Ke Kua Condos in Princeville

HANALEI
Location: North
 

PRONUNCIATION

HAH-NAH-LAY

 

MEANING

"Lei making"

 

HISTORY

Hanalei Valley was well-populated in ancient times, supporting a thriving native population and producing bounteous supplies of food from the land and sea. Large and well-irrigated lo‘i kalo (taro patches) grew in Hanalei and neighboring valleys, and Hanalei Bay was teeming with fish that were caught by hook and line as well as with nets and spears.

 

Hanalei’s earliest residents grew large amounts of kalo (taro), mai‘a (bananas), ‘ulu (breadfruit), ‘uala (sweet potatoes), pi‘a (yams), niu (coconuts), and other food plants that the first Polynesian settlers brought to the Islands on the their voyaging canoes.

 

ACCESS

Easy

 

NOTES

Limited privacy at Hanalei Bay, but a stunning backdrop

HA'ENA
Location: North

 

PRONUNCIATION

HA-EH-NAH

 

MEANING

Red Hot

 

HISTORY

Ha'ena is often referred to as the "end of the road" and marks the end point of the Kuhio Highway. The park provides access to beaches, trails, and several ancient Hawaiian sites, including sea caves estimated to be more than 4,000 years old. Archaeological sites associated with the hula, including a Heiau (shrine) dedicated to Laka, are located above the park's beaches.

 

ACCESS

Easy access. Limited parking.

 

NOTES

Lohi‘au: One of several sites associated with the Hi‘iakaikapoliopele story, the historic remnants of chief Lohi‘au's house can still be seen at Ha‘ena.

 

Hula School: Two sites in close proximity, Ka Ulu a Paoa Heiau and Ke Ahu a Laka hula shrine are part of the most renowned hula school in all Hawai‘i. Makana: The distinct profile of Makana Mountain defines the physical landscape of Ha‘ena. Throwing firebrands from the top of Makana was an event for which Ha‘ena was famous.

 

Hale Pohaku: One of two other heiau in Ha‘ena, the remains of Hale Pohaku lie on the shore near Makua Bay.

 

Manoa Heiau: A heiau about which almost nothing is none remains beneath the overgrowth that has taken over Manoa valley. - pacificworlds.com

KAPA'A
Location: East

 

PRONUNCIATION

KAH-(PAH-AH)

 

MEANING

"Solid" or "the closing"

 

HISTORY

Kapa'a is considered to be within the ancient district of Puna. Kawai Nui, slightly to the north of the town, was once known for its burly mud fish commonly called the 'o'opu ku'ia. It was believed that the Makalei tree, the legendary fish-luring brush brought to the land by the ancients of Pali'uli, called on to the 'o'opu fish, but since it ceased to exist, the fish seemed to disappear along with it. The peaceful Kawai Nui waters were also believed to be protected by Hauwahine, the mo'o goddess. The misty hills further north, also called the more pleasant Kapa'a, was the sacred land of its allegorical ruler, Olopana.

 

Through time, what used to be known as a mythical land slowly evolved into a plantation town. Today, Kapa'a is not only a charming community by the sea; it is also quickly turning into a vacation hub.

 

NOTES

Large logs wash up on the small beach here. Ceremonies are on the beach or on the grass.

© 2023 by Kawaiola Photography

Kawaiola Photography

3297C Kapau Road, Koloa, HI  96756

808-346-2495

email: kawaiola@ymail.com

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