Sights on Kauai’s South Shore
If you are staying on Kauai’s south shore then you probably want to know what is out there for you to see! Fortunately the sunny south shore of Kauai has plenty of sights that will please you and keep you wanting more. Most sights are easy to see because there is little rainfall on the south shore and the sun is almost always shining. There is a lot to see and enjoy on Kauai’s south shore so let’s start exploring!
As you are driving down the main highway from Po’ipu to Lihu’e you will pass Knudsen Gap. This is between mile markers 6 and 8 and although safe now it wasn’t always that way. In fact, a century again Knudsen Gap was one of the scariest places to pass through because it is located smack dab in between two mountains. There is no other available route and this location put passersby at risk for an ambush. However, today you should be able to pass through and see the area without fearing an ambush!
As you pass mile marker 6 you will also come across Maluhia Road. Many people refer to this road as the tree tunnel because there are so many eucalyptus trees planted along the road. They are there because volunteers planted them there in the early 1900s when Walter Duncan McBryde donated over 500 eucalyptus trees to the county because they were left over from landscaping his home.
You will continue driving down Hwy 520 and eventually come across the small town of Koloa. This is a charming town and it was in fact the first sugar plantation town in all of the Hawaiian Islands. As a result it has a character and charm all its own. You will notice an old sugar mill that was built more than 150 years ago that is just across the street from the Crazy Shirts Store and Lappert’s Ice Cream. The mill is an interesting sight to see not to mention it has an old history regarding sugar on the island.
After you pass through the Old Koloa Town you will arrive upon Po’ipu. Remember to follow the speed limit in this area because it is strongly enforced. While some folks might like to return to Kauai for a court date it is not really the best plan for most. So, drive slowly and carefully and just enjoy the scenery. Here you can check out an old lava tube cave. There is a ladder if you want to descend, but that is up to you and its safety is not known.
If while you are driving to Po’ipu and you don’t really care to see the old cave you might prefer to take a right at the fork in the road. If you do you will arrive at Prince Kuhio Park. There is a monument here in memory and honor of the last Hawaiian heir to the throne. The Ho’ai Heiau is also located in the park and is almost perfect.
After checking out the park your next stop should not be missed or even cut short so make sure you have adequate time. You will drive down Lawa’i Road and approach Spouting Horn Beach Park. Here there is a blowhole and the water is forced by the waves into the blowhole where it is then squirted high into the air. The Spouting Horn as it is called is incredible at any time but significantly so at high tide. Be sure not to miss it!
Another place you definitely want to see while on the South shore of Kauai is the National Tropical Botanical Gardens. There are 186 acres known as the La’wa’i Gardens and another 100 known as the Allerton Gardens. Even non-garden folks enjoy the tour of these gardens. You will even see the huge ficus tree that was in the movie Jurassic Park. There are many other types of plants here that you just don’t see everywhere and the tour is only about two hours long. If you have a chance check it out and if you are a garden lover you don’t want to miss it. Tours cost about $30 per person and reservations are required.
If you head back to the fork in the road you will find a road that will take you to Koloa Landing. This landing is really interesting because it was once the main port of Kauai. Anything that entered Kauai did so from this landing or else through Waimea. If you are interested in SCUBA this is a great place to dive. Also, whaling ships spent the winters in this port. It is a historical sight to see and won’t take long so do be sure to check it out.
Head out to the road again but this time take the opposite fork in the road, which would be the fork to the left. Continue down this road and you will pass nice hotels and condos and see lots of turtles. You are in the area with the best beaches and one of them is Maha’ulepu. This beach is simply amazing and definitely worth your time and effort to stop and see it. The sandstone cliffs are out of this world and there are some great places to hike. If you like to fish, ride horses, snorkel, windsurf, or other beach activities you will find this beach the perfect place.
At this point in your trip you might be pretty hungry. If so take a break at Taqueria Nortenos. The portions are huge, the food is good, and the price is affordable. There aren’t many restaurants on Kauai like this!
As you continue driving you will approach Kalaheo. If you didn’t stop at the Mexican restaurant before now is the time for you to stop and enjoy Kauai’s best pizza. Then you can check out one of Kauai’s gems, which is the Kukuiolono Park and Golf Course. This course was once the private course of Walter McBryde and he donated it to the island. It is a source of pride to the locals and really a great place to check out. If you play golf or just want to learn then this is the most affordable place to do so. It costs only $8 per day, which is definitely affordable and can be a lot of fun! There is also a Japanese garden that is worth checking out.
After your game of golf you will continue driving and will pass through the Kauai Coffee plantation. There are more than 4,000 acres of coffee plants although the coffee is not particularly great. The Big Island of Hawaii does have outstanding coffee, but that is not the case with the coffee on Kauai. It’s nice to see the plants and you can stop at the tour center if you like. However, there is not much to see and it really is a waste of time unless you just love to learn anything there is to learn about coffee.
Keep on driving and you will come across the Hanapepe Valley Lookout. This is around mile marker 14. This is an amazing sight to see but it is even more amazing after you learn about what happened here. Long ago a bloody battle took place in the area visible from the Lookout. It is incredible to imagine something like this happening on Kauai, but it did. Kauai’s last king had a son who was bitter and revolted against the government. As a result the government sent troops to get control of the situation. And, the way they got control was from brutally killing men, women, and children. This slaughter lasted for 10 days and was completely unnecessary. It goes down in Kauai’s history books as the worst battle ever.
Kauai’s South shore has plenty of other amazing sights that are definitely worth checking out. The ones mentioned here are just to give you an idea of where to start and a good tour to take. You will love the beaches on Kauai’s south shore because the sun is almost always shining, it rarely rains, and this is perfect weather for outdoor activities.
After you have seen the South shore of Kauai you can continue driving and arrive at the West shore.