Guide To East Kauai
Lihue is the main town of the Kauai County, which includes the ‘forbidden island’, Ni`ihau. The small town used to be completely surrounded by sugar plantations. The smokestacks of the old Lihue Sugar Company still loom above the city as a reminder of the times when the sugar industry was the essential industry on the island. Boston businessman Henry Peirce and Honolulu banker Charles Reed Bishop founded the city in 1837.
Today Lihue is Kauai’s main traffic junction. The airport is just a few minutes east of Lihue and both main roads, Rt. 56 and Rt. 50 meet here. Currently the expansion of the runways is being contemplated, so that long haul jets can land there and bring those needed visitors directly to Kauai. At the present time, Lihue airport can only accommodate inter island jets, operated by Hawaiian Air and Aloha Airways. The extension would be very helpful for Kauai’s tourism industry, but environmentalists oppose this project.
Compared to Maui and Oahu, Kauai is a very quiet and more rural island. Lihue has two museums, which give you a glimpse into Kauai’s past, history and culture.
Grove Farm Homestead Museum - Nawiliwili Road, Lihue, Tel: 245 3202
The Grove Farm is an old sugar plantation, which was opened in 1864. The main building is a museum. You can also see Hawaiian grass huts, authentic workshops, and tropical flowers. There is also a restored railway line, which runs infrequently. The regular tour lasts approximately 2 hours, and you have to have a reservation. Drop in visitors will be turned away.
Kauai Museum - 4428 Rice Street, Lihue, Tel: 245 6931
This museum will give you an excellent overview about Kauai’s history and culture. The museum used to be the public library until 1970, but was then converted . It features a permanent exhibit of geology, flora, fauna, pre-contact Hawaiiana, and artifacts from the missionary and plantation periods.
Kapaa is the most populated city on Kauai, and is located 14 miles north of Lihue. A typical sugar town, with colorful houses made of wood.
Inside and around the former Coconut plantation some good hotels have been built, along with the Coconut Shopping Center. The Kauai Coconut Beach, Islander on the Beach, the Kauai Beachboy and the Kauai Sands are some of the best value accommodations on Kauai.
Kapaa and its vicinity is a great place to stay, not only does it put you right in the middle of the sights of Kauai, and you can take convenient day-trips to the North or South, but also has a milder climate, since it tends to get hot in the south of the island during the summer. Above Kapaa, next to waterfalls and with magnificent views of the Wailua river, you will find Hale Lani and Hale Aina Lani rentals, two great vacation homes which are real bargains.
The town of Kapaa offers shops and restaurants and a great
small town atmosphere. You can stroll around and enjoy the atmosphere. Don't
forget to look for Cafe Coco, which is a charming place to spend your evening. Another excellent eating place is the Mermaid Cafe, with a super selection of vegetarian cuisine. Alternatively try the Small Town Coffee Co for a rich cup of coffee.
Between Wailua and Kapaa on Rt. 56 is the biggest Coconut Grove on Kauai, the Royal Coconut Grove. The trees were planted by the German immigrant William Lindemann in the 19th century. He wanted to use the coconuts to extract oil, but his project failed. Today the grove is not only popular with the visitors, but also with Hollywood. Scenes from the movie ‘South Pacific’ and ‘Blue Hawaii’ were shot here. For one of the movies a wedding chapel was built. More than 3000 marriage ceremonies have been held here since.
Wailua means ‘two waters’ in Hawaiian and refers to the Wailua river and the ocean. The Wailua river is the only navigable river on Hawaii. The first Polynesians settled down in the area after the legendary Mu, a group of people similar to the Menehune, had lived there. The location was chosen by the Ali'i because of its strategic location and the fertile grounds, as well as the river which provided for plenty of food.
Today the river and its valley are the magnificent backdrop for many of Kauai's most beautiful B&B's and several vacation homes, which overlook magnificent waterfalls, pastures and the lush green landscape. Check out Ihona Cottage or Honua Lani Gardens, two of the best bargains in the area. The rural atmosphere is inviting to guests who like to stay in the country but don't want to be far away from shopping and a little entertainment.
The Smith family runs boat tours along the Wailua river to the Fern Grotto, a huge rock amphitheatre. The somewhat commercial tour is still a lot of fun, since all the different generations of the Hawaiian family participate in telling jokes, dancing hula just having a good time The grotto are well worth seeing, it is also a popular location for weddings with visitors from the US mainland.
A huge and beautifully landscaped garden has been built inside the valley and gives the visitor a nature experience and a glimpse into a Hawaiian fishing village of days gone by. Enjoy the wild peacocks and the colorful plants everywhere. If you like paddling, you can also go on kayak tours along the river.
The Wailua Falls, two 80 feet waterfalls can be seen from Hwy. 583. The legend says that chiefs to be had to risk a jump over the cliff to prove their courage. You are not required to do the same, but you can hike down to the fresh water pool and take a bath.
East Coast beaches are rarely protected by reef, so they are exposed to the full power of the ocean. Swimming conditions are at times dangerous. Check ocean conditions before swimming. Some parts of the beaches are good for windsurfing and surfing.
Wailua Beach, Kapaa Beach and Donkey Beach are the best three beaches on the east side of the island.