The island of Kauai is alive with rich history. It is home to heritage sites and small towns with great historical significance. In this blog we offer a few things to see in Kauai during your next visit. Get a sample of what these historical sites are like and then go see for yourself!
Waimea Town and Valley
In ancient times, royalty (known as ali’i) used to frequent Waimea in the winter. In 1778, the English explorer Captain James Cook landed in Waimea marking it the first place in Hawaii that he came upon on his voyage. Nestled within Waimea are 14 miles of breathtaking panoramic views of Waimea Canyon State Park, aptly nicknamed “The Grand Canyon of the Pacific.”
Just east of Waimea is Hanapepe Town. From World War I to the early 1950s, Hanapepe was a thriving community. Bustling with G.I.s stationed there for training it became one of Kauai’s busiest towns. The town has been featured as locations for films like “The Thornbirds” and “Flight of the Intruder,” and even the Disney film “Lilo and Stitch” drew inspiration from the architecture. Today, “Kauai’s biggest little town” is an art capital home to charming shops, local eateries, and more art galleries than any other spot on Kauai. It’s a celebration of artists every time the local painters, sculptors, and craftsmen open the doors of their galleries and studios to the public.
Ka Ulu O Laka Heiau
On the Napali Coast, just over Ke’e Beach, stands a sacred spot where hula dancers still come to honor their strong traditions. The Ka Ulu O Laka Heiau, a sacred altar of rocks, often draped with flower leis and ti-leaf offerings, is dedicated to Laka, the goddess of hula. In Hawaiian myths, the handsome chief Lohiau danced here before the fire goddess Pele; their passion became Haena, meaning “the heat.” Often, the dancers of Hawaii’s hula schools climb the cliff to present small gifts and flowers. The site is said to be filled with what Hawaiians call mana, or power.
Note: Heiau are sacred to the Hawaiian people and can be fragile and easily damaged. Please treat them with great reverence and respect.
Built in 1912, The Hanalei Bridge is on the National Register of Historic Places. Seven one-way bridges lie between this entrance to Hanalei and the end of the road at Ke’e Beach. The Hanalei Valley is still known today for its crop of taro but once, rice also grew in this wet, fertile area as well.
See Kauai from the Sky
One of the best ways to soak in the historical sites is on a helicopter ride over Kauai. You’ll see things like Waimea Canyon; Napali Coast; and other areas that aren’t accessible by land. The views are unparalleled and the experience of the flight is one you’ll never forget.