Kauai’s East Shore Sights: Lihue
As you are driving from Kapa’a you will want to take Ma’alo Road before you ever reach Lihu’e. The reason why is so that you can see the Wailua Falls! Keep in mind that you don’t want to jump off of these falls as they are approximately 173 feet tall! That’s a long way down. Men used to think jumping off the top of the falls to the pool below was a great way to prove their masculinity and manhood. However, this act frequently resulted in the man’s death, which was not such a manly thing.
When you see the Wailua Falls you may notice people down below swimming around and having a good time. They most certainly didn’t jump from the top to reach the pool below. Instead, they took one of the two trails to reach the bottom. The state has signs posted saying not to take the trails down to the bottom, but people do it anyway. Just be careful as you are descending because the path can become fairly slippery at times.
Another Lihu’e must see is the Kauai Museum. The museum is located on Rice Street and it is a great place to learn Kauai’s history. In fact, one of the displays names is “The Story of Kauai” and it is definitely worth checking out.
If you continue on Rice Street to the east you will arrive at Nawiliwili Harbor. This is a great place to watch ships go by and just enjoy the beach and the fresh air. If continue down this same street you might want to visit the Running Waters Beach or the Ninini Lighthouse. The views from the Ninini lighthouse are simply magnificent so if there is a volunteer on duty ask if you can go up to the top.
Nawiliwili Road will also take you to Hulemalu Road where you can veer off and check out the Menehune Fishpond. It is believed to be as old as one thousand years and is really a historic landmark. It’s not as beautiful as it once was because it is not maintained as it should be, however it is still worth checking out.
Once you have visited the fishpond and get back on the road you will find yourself driving south along Hwy 50, also known as Kaumuali’i Hwy. Here you will find one of the island’s largest shopping centers about a mile down called the Kukui Grove Shopping Center. It has been worked on significantly over the past few years and now looks great and is a good place to shop.
Kilohana is on this same highway past mile marker 1 and on the right. It was the home of the Grove Farm Plantation’s manager and his wife, Gaylord and Ethel Wilcox. After being restored to its full glory it is a wonderful place to tour and learn all about Kauai’s sugar history. The mansion itself is worth a look because it is 16,000 square feet and simply amazing. There are Clydesdale pulled carriage rides that are truly enjoyable as well as a restaurant, lu’au, galleries, and more. This is a tour you don’t want to miss simply because it is enjoyable and historical.
Mile marker 3 on Highway 50 also offers a great Kauai experience. Here you can reach Kipu Road and from there the Kipu Falls. This is a wonderful place to relax as the waterfall falls into a deep pool of water. It really is idyllic here with the cliff along the sides and the scenery. You can use a ladder on the side of the tree to climb up and reach a rope swing. Here you can swing over the water and let yourself fall into the pool below. It is beautiful, fun, and can be crowded. So, if you want to check out this activity you should probably do so on a weekday to avoid crowds. Keep in mind the ropes and ladders should be evaluated for safety first before using them.
After your trip to the Kipu Falls you will need to get back on Kipu Road and continue driving. In just a moment or two you will pass a large stand of Cook Island pines. These pines were used as masts for ships in days long gone. You will also see Ha’upu Mountain and just behind that is the wonderful beach of Kipu Kai. This is a magnificent beach but reaching it is nearly impossible. It requires a boat or passing over the Kipu Ranch’s private road that is not open to the public. It is possible to walk to Kipu Kai beach from Ha’ula Beach but it is not a very good idea. The reason why is there are so many plants, thorns, and the like that it makes the walk almost impossible not to mention painful. So, you might consider checking it out via an ATV tour or simply taking a boat to the coveted beach. Otherwise, there are plenty of other Kauai beaches that are gorgeous and worth your time and effort!