As you might imagine, since it’s the oldest of the “main” Hawaiian Islands, Kauaʻi history is all around. In ancient times, people built temples here along the banks of rivers and upon the slopes of mountains. In more recent days, plantation life and the arrival of an international population added successive layers of historical sites to Kaua’i’s rich tapestry of life on the island. You’ll leave Kauaʻi with a new appreciation for the resourcefulness of the people who have over the years inhabited this isolated island chain. No matter how well you think you know the island, you’re bound to learn something new as you visit the many, many Kaua’i historical sites.
Probably the largest temple complex in the Hawaiian Islands, the Wailua Complex of Heiaus is located along the Wailua River, mostly near the river’s mouth. Along a beautiful navigable river (one of only two on the island), this was once the seat of chiefly power on the island. Included in the temple complex (which is a National Historic Landmark) are four heiau, or places of worship, a royal birthing stone (upon which chiefs were required to be born), and a bell stone. Please note that heiau are still considered sacred today by most residents of Hawaiʻi, and that it is forbidden to move any rocks or climb on the structures. The park is open daily, and there is no admission fee. The Wailua Heritage Trail has a map showing the locations of the various features.
The mouth of the island’s other navigable river, Waimea, marks the place where Captain Cook first made contact with the Hawaiians in 1778. Unlike his disastrous landing a year later at Kealakekua Bay on Hawaiʻi Island, Cook’s first landing here at Waimea was generously welcomed. A statue commemorating his landing can be seen here in Waimea Town.
The Birth of King Sugar
The town of Koloa is famous as the site of Hawaiʻi’s very first sugar mill in 1835. A great way to explore the area that spawned this most important crop is a self-guided tour of Ka Ala Hele Waiwai Hoʻoilina o Koloa, or the Koloa Heritage Trail. Walk, cycle, or drive this 10-mile trip, and enjoy some popular sites such as the Spouting Horn while learning about Kaua’i, Hawaii history. Download a free trail guide online, or pick one up from the Poʻipu Beach Resort Association office.
Peek into Kauaʻi’s history, and learn something new this vacation. An adventure you won’t soon forget!