Northern Kauai

Northern Kaua‘i

Na ‘Āina Kai Botanical Garden

Na ‘Āina Kai includes 12 acres (5 ha) of gardens along with 110 acres (44.5 ha) of tropical hardwood trees and 45 acres (18 ha) of exotic fruit trees. Twelve well-maintained theme gardens grace the grounds, with various attractive features, including gazebos, koi-filled ponds, and topiary.

Na ‘Āina Kai also has a Japanese tea house, a cactus garden, a carnivorous plant house, and more than 65 bronze statues of people and animals designed in Americana style.

A well-groomed hedge maze consists of 2,400 mock orange plants. The Garden’s 56,000 tropical hardwood trees are primarily teak, but also zebra wood, Indian rosewood, and three types of mahogany.

[Na ‘Āina Kai Botanical Gardens, 828-0525,]

Kāhili Beach (Rock Quarry)

Kāhili Beach is commonly known as Rock Quarry due to the past use of the area. Located on Kīlauea Bay, Kāhili is a great swimming beach relatively well-protected at its northwestern side near the mouth of the Kīlauea Stream. The beach is also frequented by surfers.

[Kāhili Beach (Rock Quarry). Directions: Turn north from Kūhiō Highway (Hwy. 56) onto Wailapa Road between Mile Markers 21 and 22. About ½-mile (.8 km) down Wailapa Road is a dirt road on the left leading about ½-mile (.8 km) down to the beach.]

Guava Kai Plantation

With about 480 acres (194 ha) of guava in cultivation, Guava Kai Plantation claims the title “guava capital of the world.”

Guava Kai is located just mauka (mountain side) of Kūhiō Highway (Hwy. 56), across from Kīlauea town. Turn mauka (toward the mountains) on Kuawa Road, at the large guava wearing sunglasses that announces the way to Guava Kai. (This fancy sign is not always on display, but there is also a permanent sign at the intersection of Kuawa Road and the highway.)

Guava Kai’s Visitor Center sells jellies, juices, and other products made from the sweet, pink fruit. Information is also provided about the growing and processing of guava.

Agronomical engineering at Guava Kai has the goal of producing a better guava, and cultivates a hybrid guava species that attains a size about twice as large as the guavas growing wild around Kaua‘i.

Ninety percent of the guava trees at Guava Kai are of the Beaumont variety. The other ten percent include Gushiken, Red Indian, and Ruby Supreme varieties.

As the largest guava plantation in the United States, Guava Kai harvests about 10 million pounds (4.5 million kg) of guavas each year, producing about half of the Hawaiian Islands’ crop and also exporting the products to the United States Mainland as well as Canada.

Guava Kai’s guava processing plant may be seen operating during the harvest season from August to December. The plantation also has a hiking path that leads to tropical trees with identifying labels.

[Guava Kai Plantation, 808-828-6121, open 9-5 daily. Directions: From Kūhiō Highway (Hwy. 56), about 34 miles (55 km) north of Līhu‘e, turn mauka (toward the mountains) on Kuawa Road near Kīlauea, about ¼ mile (.4 km) south of Kolo Road (the entrance road to Kīlauea town).]

Kīlauea Town

Kīlauea began as a sugarcane plantation town housing the workers of the Kilauea [Kīlauea] Sugar Company, which was established in 1880 by British and American partners, who imported many plantation laborers from China.

In 1881, Princess Lili‘uokalani (Hawai‘i’s future Queen) came to Kīlauea to dedicate the new railroad, which included 24 railroad cars, a railroad engine, and three miles of track.

Kīlauea is entered from Kūhiō Highway (Hwy. 56) by turning makai (toward the ocean) on Kolo Road, just past Mile Marker 23 (look for the Shell gas station).

Just past the gas station on Kolo Road is the historic Christ Memorial Episcopal Church, built in 1941 with walls of cut lava stones and stained glass windows imported from England. A Hawaiian Congregational Church was once located on this site, and the adjacent cemetery has gravestones dating to the 1800s.

Across from the historic church is the beginning of Kīlauea Road. Less than 1 mile (1.6 km) down Kīlauea Road is a small group of stores surrounded by a nice courtyard area that provides a nice place to eat and relax.

The stores include: the Kong Lung Center (a boutique); Island Soap and Candle Works; Kīlauea Bakery and Pau Hana Pizza; the Lighthouse Bistro restaurant; and some other small shops. Proceeding farther down Kīlauea road leads to the Kīlauea Point National Wildlife Refuge (see below).

[Kīlauea Town, 25 miles (40 km) north of Līhu‘e on Kūhiō Highway (Hwy. 56).]

Kīlauea Point Lighthouse

Perched atop a peninsula jutting out from Kaua‘i’s northern coastline is the Kīlauea Point Lighthouse, a historic landmark originally built to provide a guide for ships arriving from the Orient.

Panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean make the peninsula bluff a great place to see a variety of native birds, including several endangered species. (See Native Birds of the Hawaiian Islands, Chapter 7 for more information about the birds listed below.)

Native Bird Species seen at Kīlauea Point National Wildlife Refuge


Red-Footed Booby

Sula sula rubripes


Great Frigatebird

Fregata minor palmerstoni

Koa‘e ‘Ula

Red-Tailed Tropicbird

Phaethon rubricauda rothschildi

Koa‘e Kea

White-Tailed Tropicbirds

Phaethon lepturus dorotheae


Pacific Golden Plover

Pluvialis fulva


Laysan Albatross

Diomedea immutabilis


Hawaiian Goose

Branta sandvicensis

‘Ua‘u Kani

Wedge-Tailed Shearwater

Puffinus pacificus chlororhynchus

The Lighthouse bluff is also the northernmost point in the main Hawaiian Islands, and provides great views of the north shore coastline extending to Princeville and beyond, as well as the nearer coastal area of Kauapea Beach (commonly called Secret Beach), where dolphins often congregate in the morning (see below).

Kīlauea Point Lighthouse stands 52 feet (15.8 m) high, atop a cliff that is more than 200 feet (61 m) above the ocean. The point on which the Lighthouse sits was acquired by the United States government in 1909. The Lighthouse was officially dedicated on May 1, 1913 and for the next 62 years served as a navigational aid for ships.

The Fresnel lens installed in the Kīlauea Point Lighthouse was made in France and cost $12,000. The 4-ton (3.6-mton) lens of the Lighthouse is the world’s largest clamshell lens (though it is no longer in service).

The lens was turned by a weighted cable and pulley system that required rewinding ever 3½ hours. After being rewound, the weighted cables would again slowly descend as the lens flashed every 10 seconds. Light was produced using an oil-vapor lamp.

Kīlauea Point Lighthouse was credited with saving the crew of the Fokker C-2-3 Wright I trimotor plane Bird of Paradise, which completed the first non-stop flight to the Hawaiian Islands from the United States on June 28-29, 1927.

The Bird of Paradise crew included Albert Hegenberger and Lester Maitland, two lieutenants in the United States Army. Low on fuel and slightly off course, Hegenberger and Maitland saw the double flash of the lighthouse beacon and turned back. They landed in Honolulu to complete the first trans-Pacific flight to the Hawaiian Islands from the western coast of the United States.

In 1930, an electric lamp replaced Kīlauea’s Lighthouse’s oil-vapor lamp, and a 200-watt radio beacon was also added. The new light generated ½-million candlepower, which was double the illumination that had been generated by the oil-vapor lamp.

The light and the radio beacon were turned off during World War II, and a secret radar site was built on Crater Hill above the Lighthouse (the bunkers are still visible).

By 1958, Kīlauea Point Lighthouse was generating up to 2.5-million candlepower. The installation of an electric drive ended the need for manual rewinding. The Lighthouse was decommissioned in 1976 when an automated electronic beacon was placed in the tower.

Kīlauea Point Lighthouse is part of the 203-acre (82-ha) Kīlauea Point National Wildlife Refuge, which was established after the United States Coast Guard left in 1985. In 1988, the Refuge was expanded to include Mōkōlea Point and Crater Hill.

Refuge staff offer hikes up to Crater Hill, which is reached by following a trail up from the Lighthouse along the seacliffs. During the 1 mile (1.6 km), two hour hike to the top of Crater Hill, guides provide information about native plant and bird life as well as local geology. The guided hikes are given Monday through Thursday at 1 p.m.

The Refuge’s extensive habitat restoration efforts and fenced perimeter allow many native plant and bird species to thrive that would otherwise be at extreme risk due to local dogs, cats, pigs, and other non-native species.

Native species propagated on the Refuge include naupaka kahakai (Scaevola sericea, beach naupaka), ‘ilima (Sida fallax), hala (Pandanus tectorius, screwpine), ‘akoko (Chamaesyce species, spurge), and ahea‘hea [(Chenopodium oahuense, from dict., (‘āheahea), and ālula (Brighamia species).

Kīlauea Point Lighthouse was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1979. In 1992, the waters offshore of the Wildlife Refuge were designated a National Marine Sanctuary with the intent of helping the endangered koholā (Megaptera novaeangliae, humpback whale), which visit Hawaiian waters each winter to mate and give birth.

Also seen in the waters offshore of the Lighthouse bluff are nai‘a (Stenella longisrostris, spinner dolphins), leaping from the water with acrobatic flips and spins. The dolphins often swim close to shore, particularly in the early mornings of spring and summer.

Other marine life seen offshore of Kīlauea Point includes ‘ilio-holo-i-ka-uaua (Monachus schauinslandi, Hawaiian monk seals); honu (Chelonia mydas, green sea turtles), and nai‘a (Tursiops truncatus, bottlenose dolphins).

The Kīlauea Point National Wildlife Refuge now receives more than 200,000 visitors per year. The Visitor Center at the Refuge includes a gift and book shop as well as interpretive displays about native wildlife.

Just offshore of Kīlauea Point is a small, rocky islet called Moku‘ae‘ae, which means “Fine (small) island.”[i] Moku means “Island” or “Islet,” and ‘ae‘ae means “rise of the tide; froth of the sea.”[ii] A meaning sometimes given for Moku‘ae‘ae is “Fragment frothing in the rising tide.”

Albatross Tagging Project

In 1999, ornithologists working in conjunction with Kīlauea Point National Wildlife Refuge and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service attached transmitters to mōlī (Diomedea immutabilis, Laysan albatross) nesting near Kīlauea Lighthouse.

When the birds left Kaua‘i to find food for their young, the transmitters sent signals to a satellite that relayed the birds’ latitude and longitude data back to Earth.

Results from a previous study based on Tern Island found that one albatross flew 24,843 miles (40,000 km) in just 90 days. The bird traveled all the way across the North Pacific and back, a distance equal to flying all the way around the world. Another bird made repeated trips east to the San Francisco Bay area and then back to the Hawaiian Islands to feed its young.

Continuing research will reveal more about the large, graceful albatross birds, including their unique courtship habits and their amazing journeys in search of food. Updates on the tagged birds may be seen on the internet site: More information is provided in the Refuge’s Visitor Center, which also features displays and dioramas about native species and geology.

[Kīlauea Point National Wildlife Refuge, Kīlauea Road, Kīlauea, 808-828-0168,, 10-4, daily; Guided hike to Crater Hill, Mon.-Thurs, 10 a.m. by reservation. Directions: take Kolo Road to Kīlauea Road, to the end at Kīlauea Point,
Kīlauea Lighthouse Fact Sheet

Lighthouse Height: 52 feet (15.8 m).

Size of Kīlauea Point National Wildlife Refuge: 203 acres (82 ha).

Height of Peninsula Bluff: More than 200 feet (61 m) above the ocean.

Weight of Lens: 4-ton (3.6-mton)—World’s Largest Clamshell Lens (no longer in service).

Cost of Fresnel Lens: $12,000 (built in France).

Original Light Source: Oil-Vapor Lamp.

Kīlauea Point Timeline

1909—Peninsula bluff is acquired by United States government.

1913—Kīlauea Point Lighthouse is officially dedicated on May 1.

1930—Oil-vapor lamp is replaced by electric lamp (½-million candlepower).

1930—200-watt radio beacon is installed.

1958—Illumination up to 2½ million candlepower.

1976—Lighthouse decommissioned, automated electronic beacon installed.

1985—United States Coast Guard leaves; Kīlauea National Wildlife Refuge is established.

1988—Refuge is expanded to include Mōkōlea Point and Crater Hill.

1979—Kīlauea Point Lighthouse is added to the National Register of Historic Places.

1992—Waters offshore of the Refuge are designated a National Marine Sanctuary to help in the preservation of the endangered koholā (Megaptera novaeangliae, humpback whale).

Kauapea Beach (Secret Beach)

To get to Kauapea (Secret Beach), from Kūhiō Highway (Hwy. 56) take Kalihiwai Road just west of Kīlauea at Mile Marker 24. The pavement quickly turns to dirt, and at the end of this dirt road is a trail that provides access down to the beach.

The trail may be a bit slippery at a few points if it has been raining, but generally is a very gradual easy walk about ¼ mile (.4 km). The beach itself is long and wide, with fine golden sand interspersed with lava rocks.

[Kauapea Beach (Secret Beach)—Directions: From Kūhiō Highway (Hwy. 56), turn north on the first (eastern) Kalihiwai Road, just before Mile Marker 24, and then turn right on the first dirt road, which leads down to the parking area at the head of the trail down to the beach.]

Kalihiwai Bay / Kalihiwai Beach

Kalihiwai Beach is a nice crescent of sand along Kalihiwai Bay. At the eastern end of the beach is the mouth of the Kalihiwai River. Kalihiwai Falls is visible from the main highway just north of Mile Marker 25 while crossing over Kalihiwai Bridge.

‘Anini Beach

Just west of the first Kalihiwai Road is the second intersection of Kūhiō Highway and Kalihiwai Road. This second Kalihiwai Road has a fork in it: left leads to ‘Anini Beach (see below); right leads to the west side of Kalihiwai Bay, where the road once connected through before the bridge along this route was destroyed by the 1957 tsunami. (See Tsunamis, Chapter 4.) In the Kalihiwai Stream you can still see the remnants of the old bridge.

‘Anini Beach is about 2 miles (3.2 km) long, and mostly protected along its whole length by a fringing reef. Several surfing spots are located along the reef, and the protected waters of ‘Anini are popular among windsurfers, particularly beginners and those taking lessons.

Also along ‘Anini Beach are county campgrounds. An estate in this area was used in the movie Honeymoon in Vegas starring Sarah Jessica Parker and James Caan.


A few miles west of Kīlauea is the resort area of Princeville. Just before the entrance to Princeville is the Princeville Airport, which is now used primarily as a departure point for helicopter tours.

The airport was also used for scenes in the 2002 movie Dragonfly starring Kevin Costner. Formerly located upstairs in the airport building was the local bar called Landing Pad (formerly called Amelias). The club’s lease was not renewed, and the future of the site remains uncertain.

Just west of the airport is the Prince Golf Course clubhouse and Princeville Health Club and Spa. The luxurious health club weight room has floor to ceiling windows looking out over the golf course with the Pacific Ocean in the distance.

Just a short distance farther is the entrance to the resort community of Princeville, easily identified by the large fountain, statue, and pools with small waterfalls. At night these water features are lit up, providing quite a regal entrance.

The name “Princeville” was the result of an 1860 visit to Hanalei by Queen Emma [Emma Na‘ea Rooke; Kalanikaumakeamano; Kaleleonālani] and King Kamehameha IV (Alexander Liholiho ‘Iolani) with their young son, Prince Albert. The boy’s full name was Albert Edward Kauikeaouli Leiopapa o Kamehameha, Ka Haku o Hawai‘i (The Prince of Hawai‘i).

The royal party came to Hanalei as the guests of Robert Crichton Wyllie, the Minister of Foreign Affairs for the Hawaiian Kingdom. Wyllie was also an agricultural entrepreneur and landowner in Hanalei.

The King, Queen, and Prince stayed at Wyllie’s plantation manager’s house, called Kikiula (later called the Princeville Plantation House and then the Princeville Ranch House), which was situated on a plateau above the east side of the Hanalei River.

In the summer of 1860, to honor the young Prince Albert, Wyllie changed the name of his estate to the Princeville Plantation and made the young Prince the intended heir to the Hanalei estate.

Wyllie planned on petitioning the government of the Kingdom for his estate to be officially designated “Barony de Princeville.” Tragically, however, Prince Albert passed away in 1862 at the tender age of four, and then King Kamehameha IV (Alexander Liholiho ‘Iolani) passed away in 1863 at the age of 29.

Robert Crichton Wyllie passed away on October 19, 1865 at his Rosebank estate on O‘ahu, and was buried at Honolulu’s Royal Mausoleum in Nu‘uanu, O‘ahu at Mauna‘ala (“Fragrant mountain”[iii]). Wyllie’s Princeville Plantation continued on under various owners, eventually becoming Princeville Ranch, primarily involved in raising cattle.

Princeville Resort had its beginnings in July of 1968 when Harry Trueblood of Eagle County Development Corporation, a Denver-based subsidiary of Consolidated Oil and Gas Company, bought all but about 50 acres (20 ha) of the Princeville Ranch from a subsidiary of American Factors Ltd. (Amfac). (See Chapter 11, Timeline: 1849.)

In the 1970s the development of Princeville as a major resort area began. In 1971, Princeville’s Makai Golf Course opened, including three nine-hole courses called Lakes, Woods, and Ocean.

In 1982, the Princeville Hotel Corporation was formed with the intent of constructing a major luxury hotel at Pu‘u-pōā on the shoreline of the east side of Hanalei Bay. In September of 1985, the Sheraton Princeville Hotel opened, with 300 rooms available for visitors. The development of the Prince Golf Course along the shoreline above the eastern side of Princeville began in 1986.

In 1987, the Qintex Group of Queensland, Australia purchased the “resort” and then from 1989 to 1991 an extensive refurbishment of the hotel took place. Renamed as the Sheraton Mirage Princeville, the hotel was upgraded to a 5-star standard.

Also in 1989, construction of the 60,000-square-foot (5,575-sq.-m) Prince Clubhouse began adjacent to the Prince Golf Course.

Today the majority shareholder in the Princeville Corporation is the Japanese company Suntory, Ltd., which acquired a major controlling share in the corporation in June of 1990. Two other Japanese companies, Nippon Shinpan & Co. Ltd. and Mitsui & Co. Ltd., are equal shareholders as minority partners. The resort’s name officially became Princeville Resort and the hotel reopened on May 15, 1991 as the Princeville Hotel.

After Hurricane ‘Iniki[iv] severely damaged the Princeville Hotel on September 11, 1992, the hotel was closed, and $30 million in repairs were required. The hotel’s 250-person staff finally returned to work on October 15, 1993, and in May of 1995 the hotel was designated “Hotel of the Year” by ITT Sheraton.[v]

Today Princeville is an 11,000-acre (4,452-ha) resort destination and Kaua‘i’s largest planned community, stretching from the upper eastern slopes of Hanalei Valley (on the west) to ‘Anini Beach and Kalihiwai Valley (on the east). The 252-room Princeville Hotel sits on 23 acres (9 ha) atop Pu‘u-pōā Ridge and terraced into the oceanfront hillside.

Princeville’s two expansive golf courses are rated among the top in the nation, and the luxurious Princeville Health Club and Spa offers a spectacular setting, with ocean views and a wide array of opportunities for exercise and rejuvenation.

Princeville also includes 16 time-share condominium complexes, and several more are planned. Also found throughout Princeville are hundreds of private homes.

Fort Alexander

During Schäffer’s brief adventure in the Hawaiian Islands, he also oversaw the construction of two forts in Hanalei: Fort Alexander and Fort Barclay.

Fort Alexander stood above the mouth of the Hanalei River, and the outline of the foundation (now covered by a grass lawn) may now seen just adjacent to the Princeville Sheraton. A small pavilion includes displays with information about the old Russian fort.

Queen’s Bath

Queen’s Bath is a large pool formed by a depression worn into a lava shelf along the shoreline beneath the cliffs of Princeville.

Use extreme caution in this area, however, because the shoreline around Queen’s Bath is directly exposed to the Pacific Ocean’s waves, and may create extremely dangerous conditions when winter swells arrive on Kaua‘i’s north shore.

The pool known as Queen’s Bath is directly connected to the ocean, and dangerous conditions occur much of the winter and occasionally during the summer months. Numerous drownings and injuries have occurred at Queen’s Bath, so use extreme caution and do not go in the water when the waves are breaking. Remember, the larger waves often come in sets that may arrive only once every ten or twenty minutes, or longer.

Even when the water appears calm, it may be deceiving as a large wave may arrive with little warning. The dangerous conditions occur more often during the winter months, but may occur at any time of year.

Again, use extreme caution, and the best advice is to only visit this location with someone from Kaua‘i who is experienced around the ocean and has particular knowledge of this site.

[Queen’s Bath, Directions: From Princeville’s main road, Ka Haku Road, turn makai (toward the ocean) on Punahele Road, and follow it to Kapi‘olani Loop where there is a small parking area near the trailhead. At the bottom of the trail, go about 260 yards (238 m) to the left.]

Hanalei Valley

Hanalei is a quiet little seaside town on Kaua‘i’s north shore. Known for its fine beaches as well as its scenic lo‘i kalo (taro patches), Hanalei is surrounded by steep green mountains on one side and the warm, blue waters of Hanalei Bay on the other side.

Archaeological studies show that the early Polynesian settlers of the Hawaiian Islands were growing taro (Colocasia esculenta, taro) in Hanalei Valley at least 800 years ago. This tradition continues today as more than 60% of the taro grown in the Hawaiian Islands is grown in the Hanalei region, and most of it is milled into poi, still a staple of the Hawaiian diet.

The Hanalei Valley Lookout is located alongside Kūhiō Highway (Route 56) just west of the Princeville Shopping Center. The Lookout provides amazing views of Hanalei Valley and the patchwork of lo‘i kalo (taro patches) on the Hanalei Valley floor.

Flowing into Hanalei Bay are the rivers and streams of four major valleys, more properly known as ahupua‘a, the traditional Hawaiian land divisions extending from the mountains to the sea including the offshore coral reefs. The four ahupua‘a bordering Hanalei Bay are, from east to west: Hanalei, Wai‘oli, Waipā, and Waikoko.

From the Hanalei Valley Lookout, Kūhiō Highway changes from Route 56 to Route 560, and descends a long hill into Hanalei Valley. At the bottom of the hill, the road crosses over the Hanalei Bridge, a historic one-lane truss-bridge built in 1912, and now considered the “gateway to Hanalei.

Hanalei Bridge is the Hawaiian Islands’ oldest American-made, steel, through-truss bridge, and the first of seven bridges North Shore bridges accommodating just one direction of traffic.

The Hanalei Bridge is a single span, steel bridge spanning 113 feet (33.5 meters) over the Hanalei River. Hanalei Bridge was placed on the State and National Registers of Historic Places in 1978.

Just past Hanalei Bridge is ‘Ōhiki Road, which leads along the Hanalei River to the historic Haraguchi Rice Mill, built in 1930 and now completely restored.

The rice industry thrived in the Hawaiian Islands, and particularly in the Hanalei Valley, from the late 1800s to about 1930. By 1960 the Haraguchi Rice Mill was last operating mill in the Hawaiian Islands. Today it is the only one remaining.

Tours are given for educational groups by reservation (808-823-9287). A small parking area about ¾ mile (1.2 km) down ‘Ōhiki Road is near the trailhead leading on a nice hike up to a promontory overlooking Hanalei Valley and Hanalei Bay.

After crossing over Hanalei Bridge, Kūhiō Highway (Route 560) meanders along the course of the Hanalei River alongside the taro fields until reaching the town of Hanalei.

[Ho‘opulapula Haraguchi Rice Mill, 808-823-9287, 4708 Road, on Hanalei Valley National Wildlife Refuge.]

Hanalei Town

In the center of Hanalei Town is the old Ching Young Store building (1905), and several other structures from the rice era, including the Say Dock House (1895), and a former Japanese Shingon Buddhist Temple (1934).

Just east of Aku Road is a former Hongwanji Japanese Buddhist Temple originally built in Līhu‘e in 1901 and then moved to Hanalei in 1985.

Many historic Hanalei structures from the late 1800s and early 1900s are related to the region’s prosperous rice industry during that period. The rice farmers were primarily from China, until the Hawaiian Islands were annexed to the United States in 1898, and then the majority of rice farmers in Hanalei were immigrants from Japan. This was followed by the integration of numerous other ethnicities, including an influx of Filipino rice farmers in the Hanalei area in the 1930s.

Also still standing in Hanalei Town is the Old Hanalei School, originally built in 1926 near the current Hanalei School (which is just down the road), and later moved to the center of town where it now houses shops and a restaurant.

On the western end of Hanalei Town is St. Williams Catholic Church, built in 1955. The bell hanging in front of St. Williams is from Hanalei’s first Catholic Church, which was built near the Hanalei rivermouth in 1864.

Across the street from St. Williams, in the old Kaua‘i Electric Building, is the relatively new Hanalei Poi Company, which mills the taro of the Hanalei region into poi that is sold throughout the Hawaiian Islands as well as in many United States Mainland markets.

Just to the west of the Hanalei Poi Company is the Lily Pond dug there by Chock Chin, a prominent Hanalei rice farmer and store owner. Just behind and to the west of the Lily Pond is the building now known as the Lily Pond House, built in 1933 near the shore of Hanalei Bay and later moved on coconut tree rollers to its current site.

Just to the west of these buildings is Wai‘oli Park, known by locals as the Hanalei soccer fields. On the far side of the park is Wai‘oli Hui‘ia Church, built in 1912 by Sam, George, and Albert Wilcox in honor of their parents, the pioneer Wai‘oli missionaries Abner and Lucy Wilcox. The American Gothic style church is notable for its beautiful stained glass windows.

Adjacent to Wai‘oli Hui‘ia Church is Kaua‘i’s oldest surviving church building, Wai‘oli Mission Hall (the old Wai‘oli Church) and Wai‘oli Church Belfry, both built in 1841. The Belfry is the only surviving example of this type of structure in the Hawaiian Islands. The original bell, brought from Boston in 1843, is now in Wai‘oli Hui‘ia Church belltower.

Across the lawn and tucked back behind the trees, is the Wai‘oli Mission House, which was originally built from 1834 to 1837 by William Patterson Alexander, the north shore’s first missionary, along with hired carpenters.

One of Kaua‘i’s first Western style frame houses, the Wai‘oli Mission House later became the residence of missionaries Abner and Lucy Wilcox, who served the Hanalei area from 1846 to 1869. Their descendants have left a legacy on Kaua‘i, from Grove Farm Plantation to Wilcox Hospital.

In Hanalei town is Hanalei Poi Company, a poi mill co-owned by Wilcox descendant Hobey Beck and Bino Fitzgerald, who both continue to farm taro in the Hanalei region.

The Wai‘oli Mission House was completely restored in 1921 along with Wai‘oli Mission Hall. A short distance farther down the main road are two more historic bridges crossing over the streams flowing from the valleys of Waipā and Waikoko into Hanalei Bay. At Waipā, an ancient loko i‘a (fishpond) is being restored.

Kūhiō Highway (Route 560) then curves closer to the white, sandy shoreline of Hanalei Bay as it passes the coastal regions of Wai‘oli, Waipā, and Waikoko valleys that border the long, curved shoreline of Hanalei Bay. At the western side of the bay the road climbs a hill and winds around a bend before descending into the valley of Lumaha‘i, which has its own spectacular beaches.

[Wai‘oli Mission House, 808-245-3202, free guided tours, 9-3, Tues., Thurs., Sat.]

[Wai‘oli Hui‘ia Church, 808-826-6253; service Sun. at 10 a.m.]

Hanalei Bay

One block makai (toward the ocean) from Hanalei town is Weke Road, which leads to various beaches. Accessed from Weke Road are the beaches and surfing spots commonly known as Grandpas, Pine Trees, The Cape, Pavilions, and finally Kiddies, which is adjacent to Hanalei Pier.

Hanalei Pier was originally built in 1892, and then rebuilt in 1911 when the rice industry was thriving and a longer, more substantial pier was needed. The rebuilt Hanalei Pier was completed in 1912 using the relatively new technique of reinforced concrete. The firm of Conney and Morris provided the architectural design for Hanalei’s new reinforced concrete pier.

When the interisland steamer arrived, it docked in the bay’s deeper waters while cargo was rowed to and from the pier. The pier had a wooden deck, and at the foot of the pier was a freight storage warehouse connected to the pier by narrow gauge tracks. Remnants of the tracks may still be seen near the pier.

In 1921, Hanalei Pier’s wooden deck was replaced with reinforced concrete and the pier was extended. Nāwiliwili Bay became the preferred loading and unloading point for freight after a breakwater was built there in the early 1930s.

Hanalei Pier was listed on the National and State Register of Historic Places in 1979. Damage caused by Hurricane ‘Iniki on September 11, 1992, Hurricane ‘Iniki[vi] required a major reconstruction of the pier.

Many motion pictures have utilized Hanalei Pier in movie scenes. During the 1960 filming of Wackiest Ship in the Army (starring Jack Lemmon and Ricky Nelson), the filming barge at Hanalei came loose twice, causing damage to Hanalei Pier.

Scenes from Bird of Paradise were filmed on Hanalei Bay in 1950. The popular movie South Pacific was filmed in 1957 near the Hanalei rivermouth and at other north shore sites. Other major movie productions with scenes filmed at Hanalei Pier include Miss Sadie Thompson (1953); Beachhead (1953); and Pagan Love Song (1950).

The grass area between Hanalei Pier and the Hanalei rivermouth is known as Black Pot Beach Park. The park is named after the big black iron pot that was once used to cook fish caught during hukilau, when seine nets were used to trap groups of fish (huki means “to pull”; lau means “seine”). The catch was then shared among the members of the community.


Just past Hanalei is Lumaha‘i Valley, including the deep sands of Lumaha‘i Beach. The first entrance to Lumaha‘i Beach is just past Mile Marker 4, where a shoulder on the side of the road provides a place to park. A trail leads down to the east end of the beach, which is often referred to by locals as “Tourist Lumaha‘i.”

Farther down the road are some nice lookouts that provide great views over the north shore coastline. The road then descends a long hill, and at the bottom of the hill, about ¾-mile (1.2 km) past Mile Marker 5, is a turnoff to a parking area at the west end of Lumaha‘i Beach. From this location there are great views mauka (toward the mountains) up into the Lumaha‘i Valley.

The west end of Lumaha‘i Beach is remarkably wide, especially at low tide. Look for patches of greenish sand along the shoreline from olivine mineral deposits washed up on the beach. At the far left (west) side of Lumaha‘i Beach is the rivermouth of the Lumaha‘i Stream, with a lava outcropping jutting out on the far side of the river.

Swimming at Lumaha‘i Beach may be extremely dangerous during most of the winter and also sometimes during the summer months. Slamming shorebreak waves and strong nearshore currents combine to create the dangerous conditions.

When the ocean is relatively calm, however, Lumaha‘i Beach is nice for swimming, particularly at the eastern end. Use extreme caution, however, as conditions may intially appear calm, but waves may arrive with little notice, and many people have drowned after being surprised by large waves. The best advice is to visit this location with an experienced local person who has direct knowledge of the site’s conditions.

One would be remiss not to mention that Lumaha‘i was the location where Mitzi Gaynor sang Wash That Man Right Out of my Hair in the 1957 movie South Pacific.


Wainiha Valley is the site of ancient lo‘i kalo (taro patches), heiau (sacred places of worship), and numerous other culturally important sites.

A census in 1820 (Kaua‘i’s first census) stated that 65 people in Kaua‘i’s upper Wainiha Valley claimed their nationality to be menehune. Menehune are also known as a legendary race of ancient people of physically small size.

However, no human skeletal remains of a physically small people have ever been found on Kaua‘i or on the other Hawaiian Islands. Of course this doesn’t mean that menehune never existed, and one never knows if, when night falls, menehune might mysteriously appear to ply their trades. (See Menehune section, Chapter 3.)

A small store at Wainiha offers a last chance to get some supplies for the trip to the end of the road. Heading mauka (toward the mountains) from Wainiha on Wainiha Powerhouse Road (just before Mile Marker 7) leads up into the steep-walled Wainiha Valley. This area has no tourist attractions, just private homes tucked into the hillsides and along the river.

Also up Wainiha Powerhouse Road is the Wainiha hydroelectric power plant, which was built by the McBryde Sugar Company in 1906 and remains in service today.


Hā‘ena (“Red hot”[vii]), is located just west of Wainiha. Many of the homes in this area are built high off the ground (on “stilts”) with the intent of protecting them from tsunamis and floods. The 1957 tsunami destroyed or severely damaged more than 75 homes along Kaua‘i’s north shore, including 25 of the 29 homes in Hā‘ena.

Located in Hā‘ena today are many small cottages along the beach as well as numerous larger estate homes. Hā‘ena is also the site of a YMCA camp as well as the Hanalei Colony Resort and an adjacent restaurant.

[Hā‘ena, Kūhiō Highway (Route 560), past Wainiha to Kē‘ē.]

Mākua (Tunnels) Beach

The premier snorkeling and shore diving location on Kaua‘i’s north shore is Mākua, commonly known as Tunnels Beach due to the many underwater tunnels and caves in the reef or to the hollow shape of the waves at the popular surfing spot outside the reef. Mākua means “Parents.”[viii]

[Mākua, Kūhiō Highway (Route 560) between the Mile Markers 8 and 9. Due to the lack of available parking, Mākua (Tunnels) is best accessed by parking at Hā‘ena Beach Park and then walking back along the beach. Two unmarked dirt roads may have closer parking space. One is ½-mile (. 8 km) west of Mile Marker 8, and another is about ¼-mile (.4 km) further west.]

National Tropical Botanical Garden—Limahuli

Limahuli was established as a National Tropical Botanical Garden in 1976 by Mrs. Juliet (Rice) Wichman (1901—1987). The Limahuli Reserve was established in 1974 by Charles “Chipper” Wichman, who also added his own donation, another 985 acres (399 ha) of adjoining land. A 17-acre (6.9-ha) lower portion of the valley was opened to the public in 1995.

The ancient taro terraces of Limahuli hearken to old Hawai‘i. The trail through the botanical garden is about 2/3-mile (.3 ha), passing many native and Polynesian-introduced plant species, and climbing about 200 feet (61 m) to an overlook with views of the north shore coastline and the Pacific Ocean.

The American Horticultural Society recognized Limahuli’s excellent design as well as its research, conservation, and education efforts in 1997, naming Limahuli the United States’ best natural botanical garden.

[National Tropical Botanical Garden, 808-826-1053 (tours/gift shop), 332-7631 (information), 5-829 Kūhiō Highway (Route 560), near Mile Marker #9 just before the end of the road. Open Tues.-Fri. and Sun. from 9:30-4. Guided tours are given from 10 to 2 by reservation;]

North Shore Caves

Located near the western end of Kūhiō Highway (Route 560) near Kē‘ē Beach are three caves, including one dry cave and two wet caves. The caves at Kē‘ē were formed many thousands of years ago when the sea level was higher. The wet caves are associated with the Hawaiian volcano goddess Pele, who is said to have created these caves.

The dry cave is called Manini-holo (“Traveling manini fish”[ix]), and is located across from Hā‘ena Beach Park. Manini-holo Dry Cave has a relatively wide opening facing the road, and water drips down from the cave’s ceiling onto the dirt floor.

The wet caves are called Waikapala‘e (“Waters [of] the lace fern”[x]), and Wai-a-kanaloa (“Water [used, made] by Kanaloa”[xi]). Waikapala‘e is commonly known as the “Blue Room” due to the light shining into a chamber on the back right of the cave, which sometimes may only be accessed by swimming beneath the rock cave wall and then emerging into the interior cave.

Other times the water level is lower, and it is possible to swim directly into the opening leading to the hidden interior cave. People have died in this cave, so use extreme caution. A bit farther down Kūhiō Highway (Route 560) and just to the side of the road is Wai-a-kanaloa.

[Kē‘ē Caves, western end of Kūhiō Highway (Route 560).]

Kē‘ē Beach

Kē‘ē Beach is located at the western end of Kūhiō Highway (Route 560) on Kaua‘i’s north shore. Kē‘ē is known for its crystalline clear blue waters as well as its prime location beneath majestic cliffs at the edge of the Nāpali Coast.

A reef surrounding Kē‘ē Beach provides a great protected swimming area unless the waves beyond the reef are too large, in which case currents near the reef may be extremely dangerous. When the ocean is relatively calm (most of the summer and sometimes during winter), the area just outside of Kē‘ē’s fringing reef provides excellent snorkeling opportunities.

According to Hawaiian legend, the body of the Kaua‘i chief Lohi‘au was placed in a cave on a cliff near the beach. This occurred after Lohi‘au died of his love for the volcano goddess Pele. Hi‘iaka (Pele’s sister) and her friend Wahine‘oma‘o (“Green woman”[xii]) ascended the cliff and used prayers and herbs to bring Lohi‘au back to life, causing three rainbows to appear in the sky.

The end of the road at Kē‘ē is also the site of the trailhead of the Kalalau Trail, which leads to the spectacular cliffs and spires of the Nāpali Coast. The trail begins mauka (on the mountain side) of Kūhiō Highway (Route 560) where it ends about 8 miles (9 km) past Hanalei.

The Kalalau Trail leads over a rugged 11 miles (18 km), climbing and descending along the weather-worn coastline to the remote Kalalau Valley. (See Nāpali Coast below.)

Just before the end of the road is a nice stream with a swimming hole appropriately known as pool the Cold Pond. This is a nice place to cool off on hot days, and rinse off the saltwater from the beach.

[Kē‘ē Beach, west end of Kūhiō Highway (Route 560), dirt road on right leads to parking spots (the few spots at the end of the road are usually full).]

Hula Heiau

Located at the base of the cliffs just above the shoreline of Kē‘ē Beach is an important Hawaiian cultural area still revered for its place in Hawaiian history as well as its continuing mana (spiritual power).

In pre-contact times, hula dancers and chanters came here from throughout the Hawaiian Islands, and perhaps from throughout Polynesia, to receive intense training from a kumu hula (hula teacher) in the arts of hula and mele (chanting). (See Hula and Mele section, Chapter 3.)

One of the two heiau (ancient sacred places) at Kē‘ē is known as Ka-ulu-Paoa (“The inspiration [of] Paoa”[xiii]), referring to a legend regarding the Kaua‘i chief Lohi‘au and his friend Paoa, who trained in the sacred art of hula at the site beneath the lava cliffs.

The stones showing the outline of the foundation still remain at Ka-ulu-Paoa, which is located about 150 feet (61 ha) past where the beach’s sand ends and the boulders begin.

A hālau (a structure where hula was performed) was formerly located about 150 yards (137 m) up a stone path on the uppermost of the stone terraces above the shoreline of Kē‘ē, and beneath the mountain peak called Makana (“Gift”[xiv]).

Makana is often referred to as Bali Hai due to its depiction as a mystical distant island in the 1957 movie South Pacific. Makana Mountain is a north shore landmark that can be seen from as far away as Kīlauea.

Nearby to Ka-ulu-Paoa is another heiau, known as Ka-ulu-o-Laka (“The inspiration of Laka”[xv]). A flat area and the remnants of a stone wall are all that remain of this important heiau dedicated to the hula goddess Laka, who is said to have begun her hula at this location. According to legend, this is also where the volcano goddess Pele first fell in love with the Kaua‘i chief Lohi‘au.

A large rock located along the Kē‘ē shoreline at the base of the trail is known as Kilioe. The deeply-grooved basalt boulder is considered a pōhaku piko, where a baby’s piko (umbilical cord) is placed to help ensure a long and healthy life for the child.

A large stone near Ka-ulu-o-Laka “...was named Kilioe for a mo-o goddess; umbilical cords of infants were deposited here.”[xvi] These sites are extremely sacred to the Hawaiian people, and should not be disturbed.

[i] Pukui, Mary Kawena, Elbert, Samuel H., and Mookini, Esther T. Mookini. Place Names of Hawaii: Revised & Expanded Edition. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1974.

[ii] Pukui, Mary Kawena, and Elbert, Samuel H. Hawaiian Dictionary: Revised and Enlarged Edition. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1986.

[iii] Pukui, Mary Kawena, and Elbert, Samuel H. & Mookini, Esther T. Place Names of Hawaii: Revised & Expanded Edition. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1974.

[iv] Hurricane ‘Iniki struck Kaua‘i on September 11, 1992, causing more than $3 billion in property damage on Kaua‘i, including damage to over 70% of the island’s homes, and completely destroying 1,421 homes. (See Hurricanes and Tsunamis, Chapter 5.)

[v] p. 27, Cook, Chris. Princeville’s History. Honolulu: Hawai‘i, 2002.

[vi] Hurricane ‘Iniki struck Kaua‘i on September 11, 1992, causing more than $3 billion in property damage on Kaua‘i, including damage to over 70% of the island’s homes, and completely destroying 1,421 homes. (See Hurricanes and Tsunamis, Chapter 5.)

[vii] A saying is noted: “a Lohi‘au-ipo i Hā‘ena lā, ‘ena‘ena ke aloha ke hiki mai,” which translates to “and Lohi‘au-ipo at Red-hot, hot the love that comes”, p. 34, Pukui, Mary Kawena, and Elbert, Samuel H. & Mookini, Esther T. Place Names of Hawaii: Revised & Expanded Edition. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1974.

[viii] Pukui, Mary Kawena, Elbert, Samuel H., and Mookini, Esther T. Mookini. Place Names of Hawaii: Revised & Expanded Edition. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1974.

[ix] Pukui, Mary Kawena, Elbert, Samuel H., and Mookini, Esther T. Mookini. Place Names of Hawaii: Revised & Expanded Edition. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1974.

[x] Pukui, Mary Kawena, Elbert, Samuel H., and Mookini, Esther T. Mookini. Place Names of Hawaii: Revised & Expanded Edition. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1974; also called Waiokapala‘e.

[xi] Pukui, Mary Kawena, Elbert, Samuel H., and Mookini, Esther T. Mookini. Place Names of Hawaii: Revised & Expanded Edition. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1974.

[xii] Pukui, Mary Kawena, Elbert, Samuel H., and Mookini, Esther T. Mookini. Place Names of Hawaii: Revised & Expanded Edition. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1974.

[xiii] Pukui, Mary Kawena, Elbert, Samuel H., and Mookini, Esther T. Mookini. Place Names of Hawaii: Revised & Expanded Edition. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1974.

[xiv] Pukui, Mary Kawena, Elbert, Samuel H., and Mookini, Esther T. Mookini. Place Names of Hawaii: Revised & Expanded Edition. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1974.

[xv] Pukui, Mary Kawena, Elbert, Samuel H., and Mookini, Esther T. Mookini. Place Names of Hawaii: Revised & Expanded Edition. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1974.

[xvi] p. 94, Pukui, Mary Kawena, Elbert, Samuel H., and Mookini, Esther T. Mookini. Place Names of Hawaii: Revised & Expanded Edition. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1974.