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Kauai East Shore
Kauai east shore north of Lihue is also known as the Coconut Coast. The Coconut Coast offers a beautiful respite for all who visit with white sandy beaches, condominiums, and a lot of great shopping. There are a lot of great attractions in Kauai that will keep you busy for your entire stay. We’ve listed some of them below so you can check out several of the greatest things going on.
Old Kapa'a Town
This is a beautiful place to visit as it is truly like a step back in time. This was originally a 19th-century plantation town and is now a bustling area overflowing with businesses as well as abundant shopping. You can find just about any sort of shop in Old Town including high-end boutiques to those hole-in-the-wall types that have a lot of style and character that is not quite like anything else.
Located at 174 Wailua Road you can visit Smith’s Tropical Paradise from 8:30 am until 4 pm. This is a beautiful piece of land that is about 30 acres in size and is full of beautifully kept orchards, the most exotic plants, tropical birds, lagoons, and themed settings that visitors will enjoy. This is a very popular place to get married because the setting is just so beautiful. Smith’s Tropical Paradise is the site of a very popular lu’au banquet on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 5-9pm.
Fern Grotto is a place that everyone should visit if they have the opportunity. When you visit Fern Grotto you’ll start off at the Wailua Marina. Visitors will be delighted as they ride along the Wailua River on a flat bottom boat, which will have a very festive theme on board as a talented band, singers, and dancers create a one of a kind experience. The Fern Grotto is a great experience and for those that have never visited a natural amphitheater, they will find the hanging ferns and lush plant life truly one of a kind and quite exciting. When you visit Fern Grotto you can’t help but sway your hips from side to side Hawaiian style as you take the boat trip back down the Wailua River after your visit.
Fern Grotto Homestead
Highway 58, ½ south of Nawiliwili Road
Lihue, HI (808)245-3202
This is an 80-acre plantation that has been very well preserved to give visitors a look at what a sugar plantation was like in the past. The home was once the home to George N. Wilcox and is a very popular place to visit on a day trip. Tours to the area are booked in advance, so you should attempt to reserve your place on the tour before you come to the area so you don’t miss out on this extraordinary tourist attraction.
Lydgate State Park
If you are looking for some great family fun during your stay, Lydgate State Park is the place to be. Families will enjoy a gorgeous beach with just enough sand to build sandcastles, areas to picnic, playgrounds to run off energy, and lava pools that offer children shelter from the surf. There are also areas that are safe for snorkeling, even if this is your first time in the water. Lydgate State Park is considered a “must-see” for families that come to the area.
Hauola Place of Refuge
Just as its name would indicate, the Hauola Place of Refuge once served as a place of protection for Hawaiian residents that broke the law or even for those that were a member of a defeated army. After seeking protection here individuals had to go through rites conducted by local priests. Once the individuals had gone through the rites, they were free to return to their homes unharmed. This is an interesting place to visit and will teach visitors much about Hawaiian history.
Hikina Akala Heiau
Located at the north end of the beach at Lydgate State Park, Hikina Akala Heiau is a great place to visit when in the area. Built around 800 A.D., the location is notable because it is the first place that the sun touches in Wailua each morning. The name actually means rising of the sun and as the sun touches the ground first thing in the morning it is a very remarkable site because everything else around is yet to be touched by the morning light.
Menehune (Alekoko) Fishpond
Also known as Alekoko Fishpond, visitors will find this treasure located off Nawiliwili Road. Hawaiian Legend says that there was a race of little people in the ancient times known as the Menehune. This race of little people was known to accomplish large tasks while the rest of the world was sleeping. The legend also says that these little people built the pond in just one night as a gift for a princess. Overlooking the pond has a somewhat magical feel, especially if you believe even for a moment that the Menehune people existed.
Kauai West Shore
The Kauai West Shore is a beautiful place to visit and if you are hoping for dry weather you will find it here as it is known for dry weather, but also very little development. The West shore is considered wilderness and it boasts 17 miles of white sandy beaches that no one can resist. The West shore may be relatively undeveloped but there are still plenty of attractions for visitors to check out while here.
West Shore Attractions:
This is a beautiful place for visitors to see when they are in Koke’e and it is known as the Grand Canyon of the Pacific. The Waimea is a massive 3,600 feet deep, two miles wide, and an extraordinary ten miles long. This is definitely a camera-worthy adventure that the old and young alike will find very exciting.
Kokee Natural History Museum
Located at Kokee State Park at the top of Waimea Canyon Road.
(808)335-9075, 10-4 daily. Admission is free.
The Kokee museum is a very small museum, but the drive there is worth the trip. You’ll drive past the Waimea Canyon and then you will visit this museum that may be small in size but is a great place to go to learn more about the natural history of Hawaii and see some of the beautiful flora and fauna that can be found in the area. Shells, artifacts, and Hawaiian history are the topic of the museum, all of which are highly interesting.
Waimea Canyon Drive, 4 miles north of Koke'e State Park
Located in Koke’e State Park, the Kalalau Lookout is located at the beginning of a beautiful hiking trail. This lookout, as well as the trail, will allow visitors to see breathtaking valleys, awesome ridges, and awe-inspiring waterfalls. Weather can be unpredictable in the area, so hikers should bring along layers of clothing to keep warm on their adventure.
Russian Fort Elizabeth State Historical Park
This area was originally built to encourage Russian fur trading with those living in Hawaii and is a beautiful place to visit as the Hanalei fort looks over the bay. This is a great place for history buffs to visit, though anyone with a camera will enjoy this destination
Paying homage to Hawaiian culture, the salt ponds near Hanepepe are a great place for the young and old to visit. The art of salt making can still be experienced at the Salt Pond as relatives of the ancient salt makers are still practicing the art. This is a unique experience that is worth checking out if you have the chance.
Home to a group of great restaurants, this little town may seem nothing more than a little town at first glace, but it is worth visiting. The area was founded by Chinese rice farmers of the past and today is home to quaint galleries, antique shops, art shops, and more. The quaint little town was where the mini-series “The Thornbirds” was shot and has brought in a lot of new visitors as a result.
Kauai North Shore
The Kauai North shore is a bit different than any shore you’ll visit. The North shore is known to be very beautiful and many claim that it is the most beautiful location in all of the Hawaiian Islands. The North shore does get a bit more rain than other areas, but not so much that you cannot get in some great sightseeing. The North shore is home to many people, as it is home to Princeville, which is the largest development in Kauai.
North Shore Attractions:
Kilauea Lighthouse and Kilauea Point
National Wildlife Refuge
Kilauea Lighthouse Road, Kilauea, HI (808)828-1413
Open daily from 10 am until 4 pm, the lighthouse is notable because it offers the largest clamshell lens in a lighthouse in the entire world! The lighthouse is nestled in the Kilauea Wildlife Refuge, which will allow visitors to see some of the most beautiful seabirds in Hawaii, many of which are endangered. The lighthouse is quite old, having been built in 1913; it no longer is used for sea going traffic management but is a great sight for visitors.
First developed in 1853 as a large coffee plantation, this 11,000-acre development is now home to many residents as well as a vacation spot for those that come to Hawaii to enjoy themselves. The development is no longer a coffee plantation; instead, it offers resorts, golfing, beaches, and waters that are great for surfing as well as snorkeling.
Na Pali Coast and State Park
If you are looking for great hiking when you are here, you’ll definitely want to visit the Na Pali Coast and State Park. Na Pali actually translates in English to mean “the cliffs” and the name serves it well. There are oceanside cliffs that will provide you with a spectacular view of the water and white sandy beaches.
Ke'e Beach State Park
The western end of Highway 56, Ha'ena, HI
This beach will provide you views not only of the blue water but also of Na Pali. If you are in the mood for hiking you will find this an ideal beach as it is the start of the Kalalau Trail, which is an 11-mile trail. The area also offers a beautiful path that leads to a breathtaking stone altar known as the Lohai’au’s Hula Platform. Legend has it that the goddess of hula, Laka, did her best dancing in this spot. This is a great place to visit for the young and old and offers spectacular views that are definitely camera-worthy.
Kauai South Shore
The South shore is often said to have the best weather on the island. Not only does the South shore have great weather, but it also offers plenty of beaches, numerous lodging accommodations, shopping, and more. Not only does the South shore have everything you need, but there is also a lot to do.
South Shore Attractions:
Spouting Horn is also known as the Old Faithful of Lawa’i Bay. This is an adventure when you will definitely want to have your camera ready as waves that shoot up through lava tubes create a geyser effect, in which gravity seems not to exist for a few moments with each wave. Visitors will also enjoy curb side vendors that sell souvenirs, jewelry, and local art. This is an experience the whole family will love.
Located at 4428 Rice Street, the Kaua’i Museum is truly in the heart of Lihue. The museum is known for its great collection of local art, artifacts, and local history for the islands of Kaua’i and Niihau. Visitors will be delighted with their geology, flora, and fauna displays. This is a great museum no matter what your age if you enjoy learning more about the areas that you visit.
Old Koloa Town
If towns filled with quaint and obscure shops and restaurants sounds like a lot of fun to you, then this is a place that you will want to visit. The town of Koloa was the first sugar plantation in Kaua’i and was built sometime in the 1830s so not only can you shop and eat well; you can also get a bit of a history lesson while in Old Koloa Town.
Lawa'i Road , Po'ipu, HI (808)332-7361Located in Po’ipu, Hawaii this is a great place to visit! The botanical gardens boast a 252-acre scientific research center as well as a 100-acre estate property that is dedicated to botany and horticulture. The visitor center is a force to be reckoned with, showing more than 2,600 plant species. Reservations have to be made for a 2 1/2 hour walking tour and the tour is a lot of fun and quite interesting. The botanical gardens can be reached at (808) 332-7361 if you have questions or would like to make reservations.
Stay Up-To-Date on Kauai Ocean Conditions
Be sure you know what the ocean conditions are like while you are vacationing on Kauai! This website will keep you up to date with any high surf warnings, small craft advisories, etc. There are also live updates on conditions of popular beaches on the island.