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Poipu and Koloa

Poipu and Koloa

Shaka Guide's Poipu and Koloa Town Itinerary

Shaka Guide

The southern region of Kaua'i has preserved its rich history due to its many cultural sites and artifacts that span from the days when ancient Hawaiian villages dotted the land to the sugar plantation era of the early 1900s.

This tour covers a small portion of the island but packs a lot in! In addition to historic sites, you’ll visit:

  • beaches
  • a garden
  • a hike
  • a limestone cave
  • a blowhole and
  • an ancient fishpond!

NOTE: This tour has two starting points, one in Poipu and the other in Lihue. No matter where you start, you’ll visit the same spots.

*This itinerary starts in Poipu*

poipu and koloa tour map stops

MORNING

We recommend starting the tour by 9 a.m. This tour takes about 4-6 hours and has a total of 14 stops.

Prince Kuhio Park

Approximate time: 5 minutes

Pull over for a quick look at this park that’s named after a revered Hawaiian prince, Prince Jonah Kuhio Kalaniana'ole.

We’ll tell you all about this historic Hawaiian figure who is considered a hero to the Hawaiian people.

Lawa'i Beach

Approximate time: 30 minutes

Time to hit the beach! Start the day with a quick dip in the ocean. The beach is small, but it’s a great spot for snorkeling and swimming.

While you’re there, look out for Hawaiian sea turtles! If you see them, keep your distance -- these are protected animals, and getting too close will result in a large fine.

Spouting Horn

Approximate time: 15 minutes

At Spouting Horn, watch as the waves roll in and a blowhole shoots water up to 50 feet in the air!

This is more than a natural wonder, the site also has a mythical backstory that we’ll tell you along the way.

NOTE: This spot has plenty of parking and public restrooms.

Koloa Landing & Bay

Approximate time: 10 minutes

We’ll guide you to another pullover spot to learn about a former Kaua'i shipping port. Koloa Landing doesn’t look like much now, but in the mid-1800s this was the main port for the entire island.

Back in the day when ocean voyages across the Pacific easily took months to complete, this spot was used to replenish supplies and provisions because of its ideal position between the Americas and Asia.

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Kāneiolouma Cultural Complex

Approximate time: 10 minutes

At Kāneiolouma Cultural Complex, you’ll visit an ancient fishing village that dates back to the 1400s and spans 13 acres. Here you can find:

  • remains of houses
  • fishponds
  • religious shrines, and
  • altars with carved idols that have lain undisturbed for centuries

Poipu Beach & Brennecke's Beach Broiler

Approximate time: 1+ hour

white sand beach

Poipu Beach, Kaua'i

Poipu Beach is the perfect place for snorkeling or just relaxing and enjoying the scenery.

Water here can get a little choppy in the spring and summer. The fall and winter are usually more calm.

Although it can get crowded at times, the frequent sea turtle and Hawaiian monk seal sightings definitely make up for it! Maybe you'll get lucky and see one.

If you're hungry, grab a bite to eat at Brennecke’s Beach Broiler before heading to Poipu Beach. Brennecke’s is known for its pupu platters, ahi burgers, and a variety of seafood options to choose from.

Then after you swim, grab some delicious shave ice at Brennecke's Beachside Deli.

PRO TIP! If you aren't interested in swimming, you can skip Poipu Beach and head straight to Shipwreck Beach to hike the spectacular Maha'ulepu Heritage Trail.

Shipwreck Beach & Maha'ulepu Heritage Trail

Approximate time: 45+ minutes

Start your visit to Shipwrecks with a hike on the Maha'ulepu Heritage Trail for stunning panoramic views of the bay. 

The path from the beach leads to the top of a large rock cliff. The vantage point from there is absolutely breathtaking.

If you're visiting between December and April, you might even spot migrating humpback whales.

The trail also offers views of the ancient Pa'a Sand Dunes which have slowly been turned to stone over time.

Note: Shipwrecks is not suitable for casual swimming, and cliff jumping is not advised. Please follow the posted signs for your safety.

Makauwahi Cave

Approximate time: 30 minutes

sinkholeExplore a historic sinkhole and learn more about Hawaii’s geology in Makauwahi Cave

Just a few miles from Shipwreck Beach is Makauwahi Cave, a fascinating sinkhole inside a large limestone cave.

Geologists believe that the cave began its formation up to 400,000 years ago as a sand dune. Today, it's one of the richest fossil sites in Hawai'i! 

Take the short hike down to the cave. Then, crawl through the opening into another world.

Volunteer guides offer free tours, but donations are appreciated.

When you finish, walk down past the cave and visit the small nature preserve and tortoise sanctuary. The kids will love it. 

Note: The road to Makauwahi is rough and rocky and not suitable for low-clearance vehicles.

Pu'uwanawana Volcanic Cone

Approximate time: 5 minutes

Here we will pull over to see the Pu'uwanawana cinder cone, which you can think of as a mini-volcano.

This cinder cone, along with lava rocks on the beach, and other volcanic features that dot these islands, tell the story of how Hawai'i came to be.

Koloa Jodo Mission Buddhist Temple

Approximate time: 20 minutes

There’s loads of history on this tour, and the Koloa Jodo Mission Buddhist Temple is no exception.

It’s a little temple that was built back in 1910 by Japanese immigrants who came to work in the sugar cane fields.

Koloa Town

Approximate time: 45 minutes

outside of cafe with cars parkedDusk Falls on Koloa Town, Kauai, Photo by Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) Tor Johnson

End your day by visiting the unique shops and boutiques in Old Koloa Town. 

Take your time to walk around the town here and absorb its unique heritage. There are also some great spots to grab dinner.

We recommend Koloa Fish Market which has phenomenal poke bowls and other great local food plates.

Alekoko Menehune Fishpond

Approximate time: 40 minutes

pond in the middle of the forestLearn more about Hawaiian history by visiting the Alekoko Menehune Fishpond

After visiting Koloa Town, you can take a bonus drive a couple miles out of town to see a beautiful valley with a historically significant fishpond.

This ancient fishpond was said to have been created by the legendary Menehune who are believed to be the first people to inhabit Hawai'i.

This fishpond is a masterpiece of engineering invented in ancient Hawai'i, and the scenery that surrounds it is beautiful.

Return to Poipu

After you’ve explored Koloa Town or taken the bonus trip to the fishpond, we’ll point you towards Lihue or guide you back towards Poipu where you can end your day at the beach, grab some dinner if you haven’t yet, or do some shopping.

When you’re in Hawai'i, we ask that you act respectfully toward the locals, land and wildlife. 

Please pick up your trash; never touch any marine life, plants, or other animals; and avoid unsafe spots. Hawaii’s natural resources are precious. It’s up to all of us to help preserve these resources.

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Ready to take the Poipu and Koloa Town Driving Tour? Here's everything you need to know before you go!

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