Vacation Rental in Princeville Kauai
and Kauai Travel Guide
Kauai South Side Sights
The landscape on Kauai's south side lifts from the bluffs, ledges, and beaches of
the shoreline through tilted sugar cane and agricultural country to peak in sharp-
You approach the south side from Lihu‘e by following the Kaumuali‘i Highway (Highway
50) through Knudsen Gap. This is the gateway between the Ha‘upa Ridge, or Hoary
Head Range, and Mt. Kahili, the 3,089-
A sign for Highway 520 indicates the path south to Koloa and Poipu. Highway 520,
or Maluhia Road, begins with the Tunnel of Trees. Over the two-
Maluhia Road leads to the old town of Koloa, which in Hawaiian means, "tall sugar cane." Original Polynesian settlers brought sugar cane to Hawaii. Kauai farmers had names for at least 40 varieties of sugar cane. The tallest variety, kô, grew up to 30 feet in height. It was perhaps not a coincidence then that the first sugar cane to be successfully grown and harvested commercially in Hawaii was at the Koloa Plantation. Started in 1835 by Ladd and Company, the Koloa Plantation continued under a string of owners until McBryde Sugar Co. shut down in 1996.
Koloa was also busy as an early missionary center. The Gulick family started the
first station in 1835. Thomas Lafon M.D. joined the station two years later and
was the first medical doctor on Kauai. Where the Koloa Mortuary now stands was the
site of the missionary school for white children run by Daniel Dole. Attending the
Koloa School in the 1850s was Daniel's son, Sanford, who went on to become instrumental
in the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy and served as president of the short-
Standing at Koloa's main intersection is a brick chimney; a relic of what was the plantation's third sugar mill, dating back to 1841. In the center of the park, a monument immortalizes the many ethnic groups that worked the sugar plantation. Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Portuguese, Filipino and Puerto Rican workers wearing native field dress are sculpted in bronze. The Hawaiian worker wears a loincloth called a malo and has a poi dog by his side. A plaque on the wall gives reference to a haole overseer. Finding the image of a Caucasian boss seated on a high horse unacceptable, local people caused the politically incorrect depiction to be omitted from the statuary at the last minute.
Koloa's main street is lined with false-
From Koloa's main street, you have two choices in routes to Poipu. One is to turn south at the Chevron station and follow Highway 530. The other is to turn south onto Weliweli Road and follow it to the new Po‘ipu Bypass Road. Signs from Weliweli Road also mark Hapa Road, which leads half a mile to St. Raphael's Church, the oldest Catholic church on Kauai. Buried in its adjoining cemetery are some of the first Portuguese immigrants to settle in Kauai.
Rising above the fields to the east of the bypass road, just before reaching Poipu is a volcanic cinder cone called Pu‘u Wanawana. The symmetrical cone was breached on one side when a lava flow erupting from its base floated part of the cone away.
Weather and ocean spurred the resort development of the south shore area of Poipu.
So reliable and consistent is the sunshine that it has earned the often-
Resort development at Poipu began in the early 1960s when the Wai‘ohai Hotel was
constructed as a branch of the exclusive Halekulani Hotel at Waikiki. The Wai‘ohai
sat empty and damaged for many years after Iniki until Marriott bought the property
and developed it into time-
In 1938, when Poipu was part of a sugar plantation, manager Hector Moir and his wife
started a garden of cacti and exotic flowers and plants. Over the years, the gardens
grew larger and more lavish. Now the Moir Gardens are surrounded by the Kiahuna
Plantation Resort (across from Poipu Shopping Village) and are maintained by two
dozen gardeners. Thousands of varieties of flora and a lagoon adorn the 35-
When Poipu Road passes the Hyatt Regency it turns into a dirt cane road. If you follow the dirt road for 1.8 miles to a stop sign and turn right you will end up at the wildly beautiful Ma Ha‘ulepu coastline. The coastline, marked with three beaches (see Beaches chapter), features lithified beach rock and cliffs. A group of sand dunes were probably actively moving here until sea level rose rapidly at the end of the last great ice age, about 11,000 years ago. The sea submerged the dunes and cemented the sand into solid limestone. Centuries of wear from waves and rain have twisted and channeled the stones. Hawaiian monk seals frequently come ashore at Ma Ha‘ulepu.
A walk along the Ma Ha‘ulepu coastline provides interesting, up-
According to legend, Ma Ha‘ulepu was the scene of a fierce battle in 1796 between local inhabitants and an invading squadron of Kamehameha's war canoes. The king, who was attempting to unify the Hawaiian Islands by force, led the attacking fleet that launched from Oahu. While crossing the treacherous Kauai Channel, strong winds and high seas swamped the canoes. Reluctantly, Kamehameha ordered his warriors back to Oahu. Some of the squadron didn't receive the order to return and continued on to Kauai, landing at Ma Ha‘ulepu Beach, exhausted from fighting the storm all night. While they slept on the beach, waiting for their comrades, armed men from Ma Ha‘ulepu attacked, clubbing most of the invading force to death. A few of Kamehameha's men managed to escape on their canoes. Ashamed of their defeat and afraid of facing their king's wrath, the men headed directly to the big island of Hawaii to hide out with their families. The ruse worked as Kamehameha historians mention only that the fleet returned to Oahu or perished at sea.
An interesting geological feature, a sandstone sinkhole, is close to Gillin's Beach, the first of the three beaches at Ma Ha‘ulepu. A small stream empties into the ocean at the west end of the beach. Cross the stream and head uphill along the trail for about 100 yards. To the right of the trail is the large sinkhole. The hole is about 50 feet deep and wide. It has sheer walls and openings to caves on its floor.
Ma Ha‘ulepu's future as an undeveloped, natural area is threatened. As early as
1974, Grove Farm officials, who owned the land, proposed a residential community
that included four hotels, four golf courses and thousands of homes. The State Land
Use Commission denied permit application. When the golf course was built adjacent
to the planned Hyatt Regency Resort in 1988, an environmental group sued; on the
grounds that it was an illegal use of zoned agricultural land. The Hawaii Supreme
Court ruled in favor of the developer. Shortly after AOL's founder, Steve Case,
bought the Grove Farm property, the Kauai County Council passed a resolution committing
Kauai County to work with state officials on a plan to preserve the 2,900-
At the intersection of Poipu Road and Highway 530, the road also branches west to
become Lawa‘i Road. Half a mile from the intersection is Prince Kuhio Park. A monument
in the park marks the birthplace of Prince Jonah Kuhio Kalaniana'ole. Kuhio was
a great grandson of King Kaumuali‘i and nephew of Queen Kapiolani, who adopted him.
Prince Kuhio took an active part in the attempt to restore the monarchy in 1895
and was imprisoned for his actions. Later he was elected as the Territory of Hawaii's
delegate to Congress— a position he held for 20 years. Although he didn't have voting
power in Congress, Kuhio worked hard to benefit the Hawaiian people. He spearheaded
the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act, which provided homesteads for native Hawaiians.
A short distance farther down Lawa‘i Road is Spouting Horn blowhole. Ocean waves
created the blowhole by cutting under a flat lava shelf. Waves surging under the
shelf are forced through a lava tube, escaping as a geyser of water and air, sometimes
30 feet high. Depending on the force of the south swell, the water and air can emit
a plaintive groan or make a loud "whoosh" as it erupts through the blowhole. Spouting
Horn is most spectacular in the summer when the surf is highest on the south coast.
At any time it is usually more impressive than the blowhole at Koko Head on Oahu.
Spouting Horn is one of the most-
Across the road from Spouting Horn is the visitor center for the National Tropical
Botanical Garden. Converted from a 1920s plantation-
Of the five gardens that make up the National Tropical Botanical Garden, three are
on Kauai, and two are here, adjacent to each other on the banks of the Lawa‘i Stream.
The NTBG has assembled what is believed to be the largest collection of federally-
A guided tour of the Allerton Garden or the McBryde Garden begins with a bus ride
along an old railroad grade overlooking the once private estate and Lawa‘i Bay. Tourers
of the Allerton Garden leave the bus and follow the direction of expert volunteer
guides on a leisurely mile-
Since the McBryde Garden is spread over 252 acres, guided tours use a bus to transport
visitors between sections. The McBryde Garden doesn't have buildings or sculptures,
as does the Allerton, giving it the feel of a wild preserve. It is home to the largest
ex situ collection of native Hawaiian flora in existence. Extensive plantings of
palms, flowering trees, heliconias, orchids and many other plants have been wild-
Travelers leaving Poipu have two choices when returning to Koloa. If you are headed to Lihu‘e, then Highway 520 is the route to take. Those heading west can turn left at the Chevron station and take Highway 530, or Koloa Road, to Highway 50 and the village of Lawa‘i. Farmers in the rolling hills of this area and west to Kalaheo raise cattle, poultry, fruit and coffee. In 1860, a Scotsman by the name of Duncan McBryde leased land in the Kalaheo countryside to start a cattle ranch. He married Elizabeth Moxley that same year and together they had six children. When Duncan McBryde died in 1878 his widow and his son, Walter, took over operations and added sugar cane to their ventures. In 1899 his property was incorporated into the McBryde Sugar Company. Walter turned over a large tract of land to the territorial government with the agreement that it would be used for homesteading. Between 1906 and 1914, families were able to buy land near Kalaheo for between one and five dollars an acre. To qualify for ownership, the homesteaders had to live on the land, cultivate small crops and plant trees. Today, many of the residents of Kalaheo are descendants of Portuguese immigrants who came to homestead and work for the McBryde Sugar Company. In its early years, Kalaheo was called "Homestead." By 1918, the Postal Service was having difficulty directing mail because other communities went by the same name so the name was changed to Kalaheo, which means "proud day."
Immediately west of the intersection with Highway 540 at Lawa‘i, Kaumuali‘i Highway is crossed by Wawae Road, the entrance to the 88 Holy Places of Kobo Daishi, a Buddhist shrine. Follow Wawae Road, makai of the highway past a few houses to the hillside shrine or follow a short footpath from the highway, 200 yards west of Wawae Road, next to utility pole #344. The setting for 88 miniature cement shrines, a steep, rocky hillside under the shade of eucalyptus trees, reflects the traditional aesthetic sense of the Japanese worshippers. Each shrine is named for a Buddhist saint and in each are small offerings. Under the shrines are buried the sacred sands brought from the original 88 Holy Places that was erected by Kobo Daishi, a great teacher of the Shingon sect of Buddhism in Japan more than a thousand years ago. The number of shrines signifies the 88 sins committed by man. Buddhist pilgrims believe worshiping here will release them from the 88 sins.
Kukuiolono Park, once the estate of Walter McBryde, is one of the oldest gardens
and golf courses on Kauai. It is situated on the crest of a broad hill to the south
of Kalaheo. To find it turn left at Kalaheo's only signal light and follow Papalina
Road for three quarters of a mile. Walter McBryde built an elegant park on his hilltop,
laying out trees, shrubs, flowering plants and expanses of lawn open to the superb
views. A Japanese garden, with its carefully selected and placed rocks, is a key
feature. Nearby lies Walter McBryde's grave. McBryde gathered legendary stones
significant to early Hawaiians from around the island and assembled them into an
interesting collection of Hawaiiana. Among them is Pohaku Awa or the fish stone.
Fish being taken from Nomilo Pond near the coast to pools in higher land were kept
overnight in cool water in the bowl-