The Sunny South Shore
A tunnel of tall eucalyptus trees marks the gateway to Kauai’s sunny South Shore. Perfect weather and golden beaches make the south side of Kauai a favorite hang out for both visitors and locals. Old Koloa Town is home to Hawaii’s first active sugar mill, the birthplace of the Hawaiian sugar industry, which was the state’s strongest economy for more than a century. Although the mill is inoperational now, the charming town thrives with activity from the many restaurants, boutiques and shops that line the wooden sidewalks. The best way to really experience all Koloa has to offer is with Kauai ATV. You can explore Koloa and the beautiful vistas, plantations, movie sites and a secluded waterfall on an ATV. Fun!
Just a couple of miles south of Koloa lies sunny Poipu, a major resort destination with beachfront condos and restaurants developed around some of the best beaches on the Island. Once there, you will see why Poipu Beach has been voted America’s Best Beach by the Travel Channel. It’s no wonder, as Poipu provides beachgoers a place to snorkel, swim, wade, boogie-board, kayak, surf and sunbathe. Swimming at all levels can be enjoyed from the protected natural saltwater pools to the more exciting wave action for the experienced. With three bow-shaped bays each with their own environment, Poipu thrives with a multitude of marine life.
Looking to satisfy the explorer in you? Then discover the secluded and diverse landscape of Mahaulepu. With rugged limestone cliffs, ancient burial grounds and rocky sea caves your journey will be unforgettable. If trekking by foot, start at Shipwreck Beach, located just east of the Grand Hyatt Kauai. (Hint: If you see locals jumping from a 50ft sand dune at Makawehi Point, you’re headed in the right direction.) Once in the ironwoods, you should be able to pick up the trail. If you have a 4WD and a watch, you can drive in. But if you do drive, pay attention to your watch. Park hours are 7:30am-7pm (summer) and 6pm in the winter. They will lock you in.
At Prince Kuhio Park, you can pay your respects to Hawaii’s first delegate to the U.S. congress, Prince Jonah Kuhio Kalanianaole. He was known for spearheading the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act. This sets aside 200,000 acres of leasehold land for indigenous Hawaiians. A state holiday is observed in his honor, while the park honors his birthplace. To the west of the park is Spouting Horn, a cascade of water that shoots up like Old Faithful from an opening of an ancient lava tube with every incoming wave when the tide is high.
A visit to the Garden Island wouldn’t be complete without visiting a garden or two. The National Tropical Botanical Garden and the Allerton Garden are two stunning examples of native landscape and design. The NTBG provides a haven for tropical endangered plant species to thrive and focuses on the cultivation of traditional medicinal plants. The Allerton Garden sits on the site of Hawaii’s Queen Emma’s summer cottage. This 80-acre retreat hosts the Island’s living treasures in an enchanting garden and also has a private beach turtles use to lay eggs. It’s a good idea to make advanced reservations for the Allerton Garden since tours are limited.
Just a little inland from the opulent coast, is the modest town of Kalaheo. Take a drive through the neighborhood and experience true island living. Stop and picnic in paradise in Kukui O Lono Park. Because the park is set up on top of a hill, you will enjoy spectacular panoramic vistas in every direction including the south coast and Lāwa‘i Valley. Stroll through the lovely serene Japanese-style garden or play the public golf course. By blending luxury and tradition, the South Shore of Kauai is sure to provide something for everyone.
As featured in Kauai Traveler magazine