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Distances and Driving Times
From LIHUE via Highway 50
To Koloa 11 miles, 15 minutes
Kalaheo 14 miles, 30 minutes
Waimea 24 miles, 58 minutes
Kokee 42 miles, 1 hour, 30 minutes
From LIHUE via Highway 56
To Kapaa 10 miles, 20 minutes
Hanalei 33 miles, 1 hour
NORTH SHORE/SOUTH SHORE
The colorful town of Lihue, Kauai’s commercial center, is the starting point for your tour of either half of the Garden Isle. If you’re off to the North Shore, first stop will be the Wailua River for a fascinating, three-mile ride on one of the river launches. At the very end passengers disembark to explore the hauntingly beautiful Fern Grotto. Your North Shore trip will be liberally sprinkled with a host of perfect beaches, sugar and pineapple fields and a variety of unusual churches. But the highlight will be the incredible beauty of Hanalei Valley and Hanalei Bay. Their magic will linger in your memory for decades to come. Past Hanalei and Haena Point is the unmatched spectacle of the Na Pali Coast, inaccessible by land. A helicopter service offers flights into this lost world of breathtaking beauty and will even deposit you on a virgin beach for a very private picnic.
Kauai’s South Shore is equally as lovely. You’ll travel high up into Kokee State Park to view the Grand Canyon of the Pacific Waimea Canyon. While there you’ll also visit Kalalau Lookout for a view of an awe-inspiring Na Pali Coast valley whose emerald cliffs plunge 4,000 feet to the crashing surf below. En route down from the park you’ll catch a glimpse of the privately-owned island of Niihau. Stops at the Nenehune Ditch, Spouting Horn, Hanapepe Valley, Captain Cook’s Landing and Nawiliwili Harbor are other highlights of your memorable South Shore adventure.
Points of interest
BOTANICAL GARDENS Abounding in natural vegetation, Kauai also has four botanical gardens which are open to the public for small fees. The Olu Pua Gardens at Kalaheo, Menehune Gardens in Nawiliwili and Paradise Pacifica at Wailua offer an unusual assortment of flowers, shrubs, cacti and other magnificent species of plant life.
CAPTAIN COOK’S LANDING, WAIMEA BAY First place in which the intrepid British explorer set foot in Hawaii, this bay was for many years a favorite provisioning port with Pacific traders and whalers.
FERN GROTTO Hauntingly beautiful cave, luxuriantly festooned with growing ferns.
HANALEI VALLEY Other name for Hanalei is Hanohano, meaning "glorious." You will want to stop at vantage point near marker to gaze long at this sweeping scene of majestic tranquility.
HANAPEPE VALLEY Note red cliffs and handsome color accent they give the valley’s myriad shades of green and blue.
KALALAU LOOKOUT Above Kokee Park, one of the most breathtaking views in all the islands, where the valley drops 4,000 feet to the shores of the Pacific. The valley is bounded by razor sharp cliffs sprinkled by many waterfalls.
KAUAI MUSEUM Devoted to Hawaiiana, this two-building museum in Lihue has a permanent exhibit entitled "The Story of Kauai" and changing exhibits featuring ethnic and cultural heritage shows.
KOKEE PARK Adjacent to Waimea Canyon this Park has picnic grounds, cabins and a wide variety of outdoor activities including trail riding, trout fishing and hiking. The Kokee Tracking Station is located nearby.
KUKUIOLONO PARK & GOLF COURSE A park situated on the crest of a broad hill to the south of Kalaheo, once the estate of Walter McBryde and open to the public at all times. Contains a 9-hole public golf course.
LUMAHAI BEACH Chosen for Nurses’ Beach in South Pacific, this lovely spot is undoubtedly the most photographed on Kauai.
MENEHUNE DITCH Only small portions remain of what was once a great water course or aqueduct. Archeologists say it was built before Hawaiians came, possibly by the Menehune.
MENEHUNE FISH POND, NIUMALU Remarkable stone walls, said to have been built in one night by the Menehune. Fish pond they enclose is still in use.
OLD RUSSIAN FORT Hoping to seize Kauai for his Czar, an employee of the Russian Fur Company of Alaska built this fort near the mouth of the Waimea River in 1817. Rocky ruins are all that remain of his efforts and dream.
OPAEKAA FALLS View of Wailua River in a dramatic plunge over high cliff. Opaekaa means "rolling shrimp" and dates from days when swarms of shrimp were seen rolling in turbulent waters at base of falls.
PARADISE PACIFICA It is an expansive 23-acre field with gardens, lagoons, exotic birds and unique narrated train rides which meander through a rain forest, a Polynesian village, a Japanese island, a Filipino village and other interesting and colorful exhibits. Several nights a week, a 75-minute extravaganza in the lagoon theatre features dances and music of Japan, Hawaii, Philippines and Tahiti.
POIPU BEACH Exceptionally fine bathing beach, frequent site of special picnics for hotel guests.
PRINCEVILLE World famous resort area along beautiful Hanalei Bay. Features a spectacular golf course designed by Robert Trent Jones as well as fine tennis facilities.
ROYAL BIRTHSTONES, WAILUA Women of Hawaiian nobility always tried to reach these stones in time for their children’s birth to insure their royal status.
SLEEPING GIANT Outline of mountain ridge shows striking resemblance to reclining giant.
SPOUTING HORN When tide is running high, waves pressured through lava tubes are forced through a hole in coastal rocks to burst into spectacular fountains of salt spray and foam.
WAIMEA CANYON This is more than a view, it’s an experience! You’ll treasure in memory its grandeur and jewel-tone colors, its awesome depth and breadth.
WAIOLI MISSION HOME Visitors are welcome to look through this quaint home, built in 1834 and recently restored by descendants of the first missionaries.
WAIPAHEE FALLS Accessible by cane field road and trail only, these falls form a natural rock slide and pool.
WET AND DRY CAVES OF HAENA Eerie caverns, one dry, the other filled with limpid green water, where chiefs are said to have gathered in ancient times.