This is the commercial centre of Kaua´i and runs from Lihu´e through Wailua and Waipouli to Kapa´a. It does have some lovely beaches with beautiful tropical plants everywhere.
Wailua River State Park
This is Kaua´i’s most popular state park. The park has the Wailua River running through it which starts at Mount Wai´ale´ale and runs all the way to the ocean on the eastern side of Kaua´i. This park contains some of the best waterfalls and the river is popular for kayaking because it’s so gentle and scenic. The park also contains sacred heiau sites from the days of Kaua´i’s royalty. A popular thing to do in the park is to take a kayak trip either independently or on a tour along the river to the Fern Grotto which is a lava cave surrounded by tropical ferns. Visitors to the cave are serenaded by musicians playing beautiful Hawaiian music and with the cave’s wonderful acoustics this is a magical experience. This not surprisingly is a popular place for weddings. Tour boats depart from the Wailua Marina which is found along Highway 56 every 30 minutes. You can also rent a kayak or canoe and travel up the river independently. There are several tour and hire companies available in this area and a good place to find some of these is on the official tourism site for Hawaii on the website below.
For information about the park visit the following website at: http://www.hawaiistateparks.org/parks/kauai/wailua.cfm
The official tourism site for Hawaii is the following website: http://www.gohawaii.com
Lydgate Beach Park
This beach is the safest one in Kaua´i to swim all year long because of its calm conditions and man-made ponds. It is also a good snorkelling beach with lots of colourful fish but no coral. There are plenty of facilities and parking.
This heiau is the largest one found on Kaua´i being 83 metres by almost 100 metres and is located in an abandoned canefield opposite the Holiday Inn Hotel. When it was used as a temple there was an altar in the middle of the enclosure and around the inside of the wall was a wide ledge on which people could sit during ceremonies. After Kaua´i royalty converted to Christianity the heiau was no longer used for religious ceremonies and eventually it was abandoned. In 1914 the Kaua´i Historical Society was formed to protect this site as well as others. There are plans to develop it further and incorporate it into Wailua River State Park.
Smith’s Tropical Paradise
This is an entertainment experience which revolves around a luau. You can also take a tram ride or walk around the 30-acre property of tropical plants. The luau is quite reasonable and there is music and dancing which is a lot of fun. All in all it is a reasonably priced and fun evening out for the family.
For information about Smith’s Tropical Paradise visit the website at: http://www.smithskauai.com
Highway 580 or Kuamo´o Road travels inland and passes many historical sites as well as some lovely scenic spots. Just a short way up the road from its start on the left hand side is Holoholoku Heiau which was a sacred place for royalty and there is a birthstone, ‘Pohaku Ho´ohanau’ which marks the place of royal births. Above the temple is a cemetery for Japanese labourers. Another temple found on a hill above the Wailua River just before the ´Opaeka´a Falls lookout but on the opposite side of the road is Poli´ahu Heiau. This fairly well-preserved temple was dedicated to the snow goddess Poli´ahu who was the sister of Pele. The lovely ´Opaeka´a Falls can be viewed from a signposted lookout. Opposite the falls you will find Kamokila Hawaiian Village along a short road. This re-created Hawaiian village gives you an idea of what a traditional native settlement would have looked like. The village is run by a Hawaiian family and they also provide guided canoe tours of the Wailua River.
For information about Kamokila Hawaiian Village visit the website at: http://villagekauai.com
Kauai’s Hindu Monastery
You can take a free tour around this amazing site but it is best if you call before you go as the dates for the tours change regularly and also if you are coming by car you will need to reserve a parking spot. The grounds are spectacular and are full of the loveliest tropical plants. You can take a self guided tour around the site but be aware that the temple is only open in the morning to visitors.
For information about the monastery visit the website at: http://www.himalayanacademy.com
Eastside Hiking Trails
There are several hikes you can do in this area some easier and more scenic. Probably the most scenic trails are the Moalepe and Kuilau Trails which give you some wonderful mountain, valley and ocean views. You start this hike around 6 kilometres from the junction of Highways 580 and 581 on the right just before Highway 580 crosses the stream at Keahua Arboretum. The trail is signposted and there is parking. The hike is around 15 kilometres and is quite easy and all well signposted. Other hikes that are more difficult include the Poweline Trail and Nounou Ridge Trail.
If you are interested in hiking and want to find out more about the different trails a good website is: https://hawaiitrails.ehawaii.gov
Waipouli has some of Kaua´i’s best restaurants and largest supermarkets. There are also a few places to visit if the weather is bad such as the Kaua´i Heritage Center which is found in Kaua´i Village. It has displays of traditional Hawaiian crafts as well as workshops. Another place in this village to visit in wet weather and you are travelling with children is the Kaua´i Children’s Discovery Museum which has lots of interactive displays as well as a day camp in the summer months for younger children. Just north of the Waipolu Complex is a lookout where you can see the outline of the Sleeping Giant on Nounou Ridge. Legend has a friendly giant falling asleep on the hillside after eating too much poi and being turned into rock.
For information about the Kaua´i Children’s Discovery Museum visit the website at: http://www.kcdm.org
Kapa´a is an old plantation town and is one of Kaua´i’s largest. In the Dragon Building in the town is the Hawaiian Art Museum which you may like to visit if you are interested in alternative medicine. It contains collections of Serge Kahili King who was the founder of Aloha International which promotes the idea of healing using the mind, body and spirit. The museum can only be visited by appointment but they do run free talks on Wednesday afternoons. Visit the website for information if you are interested. At the north end of the town is Kapa´a County Beach Park with its beautiful sandy shoreline and turquoise blue sea. There are plenty of facilities on offer at this beach and you can camp here with a permit. You can walk or ride a bike along the pretty path that runs along the beachfront. Driving north from Kapa´a the scenery along the way is just stunning with the ocean on one side and the mountains and sugarcane fields on the other and there are plenty of scenic lookouts for you to admire these views. Around 16 kilometres from Kapa´a you will find Kealia Beach which is a popular surf spot when the surf is up. Driving further north you will come to Donkey Beach which was once famous as a nudist beach but that is no longer the case. You can access this beach through an old sugarcane field which is private land but is accessible to the public. It is a popular surfing and boogey boarding beach but isn’t really suitable for swimming.
For information about camping permits visit the following website at: http://www.hawaiistateparks.org/camping
For information about the Hawaiian Art Museum visit the website at: http://www.huna.org
Anahola is a very small village going north on Highway 56. Turn down Kukuihale Road which is off the highway then drive down a dirt road and you will come to Anahola Beach Park. It is found on Anahola Bay which is a wide sandy beach bay popular with surfers. Another beach — ´Aliomanu Beach is found off ´Aliomanu Road. This secluded beach is lovely and quiet and you can walk along it without seeing anyone else for miles. Driving further north along the highway from Anahola you will see the Hawaii Visitor’s Bureau sign and if you park next to it and look back at the mountain you will see what looks like a smile on the rock face but is really light coming from a hole.