Kauai’s South Shore is a must-visit destination for anyone looking to experience the best of Hawaii. Located on the southern side of the island, opposite to the North Shore, this region boasts sunny weather and calm waters, making it a popular spot for beachgoers and water sports enthusiasts.
One of the most famous beaches in Kauai’s South Shore is Poipu Beach, which has been named one of the best beaches in the United States by multiple travel publications. Visitors can enjoy swimming, snorkeling, surfing, and other water activities while soaking up some sun on its golden sands.
Apart from Poipu Beach, there are several other attractions that visitors can explore on Kauai’s South Shore. One such attraction is Spouting Horn, a natural blowhole that shoots water up to 50 feet in the air. The sound of waves crashing against rocks creates an incredible atmosphere that leaves visitors awestruck.
If you’re interested in history and culture, then you should definitely check out Old Koloa Town. This charming town was once a bustling sugar plantation town but now serves as a hub for shopping and dining with an old-world feel. You can also visit McBryde Garden to witness rare plants and flowers from around the world.
Kauai’s South Shore has something for everyone shopping centers, spas, golf courses, hiking trails and many more amenities.
When planning your trip to Kauai’s South Shore consider checking out these frequently asked questions:
Q: What are the waves like on Kauai’s South Shore?
A: The waves on Kauai’s South Shore are generally calm due to its protected bays which makes it perfect for swimming or learning how to surf.
Q: What is a good itinerary for Kauai’s South Shore?
A: A good itinerary for Kauai’s South Shore would include visiting Poipu Beach, Spouting Horn, Old Koloa Town and McBryde Garden. You can also add a day trip to Waimea Canyon or a helicopter tour.
Q: What is the weather like on Kauai’s South Shore?
A: The weather on Kauai’s South Shore is typically sunny with temperatures ranging between 70-85°F (21-29°C). However, it can rain occasionally so bring an umbrella just in case
Top Beaches on Kauai’s South Shore
Shipwreck Beach: A Surfer’s Paradise
Shipwreck Beach is a must-visit destination for surfers and beachgoers alike. Located on the eastern end of Poipu Beach, this picturesque stretch of sand offers stunning views of the ocean and the nearby cliffs. The beach gets its name from an old shipwreck that can still be seen offshore, adding to the area’s unique charm.
While Shipwreck Beach is known for its excellent surfing conditions, it’s also a great spot for swimming and sunbathing. The waves can be quite large at times, so it’s important to exercise caution when entering the water. Lifeguards are on duty during peak hours to ensure everyone stays safe.
In addition to its natural beauty, Shipwreck Beach is surrounded by several amenities that make it a convenient place to spend the day. There are restrooms, showers, and picnic tables available for public use, as well as several restaurants within walking distance.
Poipu Beach Park: Perfect for Families
If you’re looking for a family-friendly beach with calm waters perfect for swimming and snorkeling, look no further than Poipu Beach Park. This popular spot features two crescent-shaped beaches separated by a sandbar that creates a shallow pool perfect for kids.
The crystal-clear waters at Poipu Beach Park are ideal for snorkeling and scuba diving enthusiasts who want to explore the colorful marine life just offshore. Visitors can also rent paddleboards or kayaks if they prefer to stay above water.
Like Shipwreck Beach, Poipu Beach Park offers plenty of amenities such as restrooms, showers, and picnic areas. There are also several hotels in the area if you’re looking to stay overnight.
Lawai Beach: A Hidden Gem
Lawai Beach may not be as well-known as other beaches on Kauai’s South Shore, but it’s definitely worth checking out if you’re looking for a more secluded beach experience. This hidden gem is tucked away behind a residential area, giving it a peaceful and secluded feel.
The crystal-clear waters at Lawai Beach make it an excellent spot for swimming and snorkeling. The beach is also known for its tide pools, which are home to a variety of marine life such as sea urchins and crabs.
While there aren’t many amenities available at Lawai Beach, its secluded location makes it the perfect place to escape the crowds and enjoy some peace and quiet.
Snorkeling and Water Activities in Poipu
Poipu Beach: A Snorkeling and Water Activities Haven
Poipu Beach is one of the most popular beaches on Kauai’s south shore, and for a good reason. It offers visitors a wide range of water activities, including snorkeling, surfing, swimming, and more. The beach is known for its calm waters and abundant marine life, making it an ideal spot for snorkeling.
Snorkeling in Poipu Beach
The best time to go snorkeling at Poipu Beach is during the summer months when the water is calmer. Visitors can expect to see colorful fish such as butterflyfish, tangs, parrotfish, and more. If you’re lucky enough, you might even spot some sea turtles or dolphins! There are several companies that offer guided snorkeling tours, which are perfect for beginners or those who want to learn more about the marine life in the area.
If you’re looking for a more secluded and relaxed atmosphere with your family and young children while still enjoying the beauty of Poipu Beach, Baby Beach is just a short walk away from Poipu Beach. This hidden gem offers shallow waters that are perfect for kids to swim in without worrying about waves.
Another natural wonder that visitors shouldn’t miss out on while visiting Poipu Beach is Spouting Horn. It’s located near Lawai Road and is easily accessible by car or foot. Spouting Horn gets its name from the water that shoots up through a lava tube in the sea. The sound it makes as it spouts water into the air sounds like a hissing noise followed by a loud roar.
For those looking to explore further out at sea beyond what Poipu has to offer on land can rent boats for various water activities such as fishing or sightseeing. Boat rentals are available throughout Kauai’s south shore area.
Exploring the Koloa Heritage Trail
The Koloa Heritage Trail: A Journey Through Kauai’s Rich History
Ancient Hawaiian Temples and Cultural Landmarks
The Koloa Heritage Trail is a 10-mile self-guided walking tour that takes visitors on a journey through the rich history of Kauai’s south shore. The trail features 14 different stops, including historic sites, cultural landmarks, and natural wonders, each with its own unique story to tell. Visitors can explore the remains of ancient Hawaiian temples such as Hapa Road and learn about their significance in Hawaiian culture. These temples were built by the early Hawaiians to honor their gods and ancestors. The trail also includes stops at cultural landmarks such as Prince Kuhio Park, which celebrates the life of Prince Jonah Kuhio Kalaniana’ole, a beloved leader who fought for Native Hawaiian rights.
Sugar Plantation Era
The sugar plantation era played an important role in shaping the history of Kauai’s south shore. Visitors can learn about this era by visiting sites such as the Old Sugar Mill of Koloa and Ladd & Company Store. The Old Sugar Mill was built in 1835 and is considered to be the first successful sugar mill in Hawaii. It was a major contributor to Hawaii’s economy during the plantation era. Ladd & Company Store was established in 1840 and served as a company store for workers on nearby plantations. Today, it has been restored and houses shops where visitors can purchase souvenirs.
In addition to historic sites and cultural landmarks, the Koloa Heritage Trail also features several natural wonders that are worth exploring. One of these is Spouting Horn Park, where waves crash against lava rocks creating a spectacular spray that shoots up into the air like a geyser. Another natural wonder is Poipu Beach Park, which offers pristine white sand beaches perfect for swimming or sunbathing.
Hiking the Maha’ulepu Heritage Trail
The Maha’ulepu Heritage Trail is an incredible hiking trail that spans two miles along the south shore of Kauai. The trail offers breathtaking views of the ocean, cliffs, and beaches, making it a popular destination for hikers of all skill levels. One of the best things about this trail is that it’s easily accessible from the Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa, which is located near the trailhead.
Ancient Hawaiian Ruins
As you hike along the Maha’ulepu Heritage Trail, you’ll have the opportunity to see ancient Hawaiian ruins. These ruins offer a glimpse into Hawaii’s rich history and culture and are a must-see for anyone interested in learning more about Hawaii’s past. Some of the ruins you’ll see include heiau (temples), house sites, and agricultural terraces.
Another highlight of hiking the Maha’ulepu Heritage Trail is seeing wildlife in their natural habitat. The area is home to many different species of birds, including albatrosses, shearwaters, and nene geese. You may also spot monk seals lounging on the beach or sea turtles swimming in the ocean.
Unique Geological Formations
The Maha’ulepu Heritage Trail is known for its unique geological formations that were formed over millions of years. As you hike along the trail, you’ll see towering cliffs made up of layers of lava rock that have been eroded by wind and water over time. You’ll also see sinkholes and caves created by waves crashing against limestone rocks.
Driving Through Koloa’s Tree Tunnel
The Tree Tunnel in Koloa is one of the most popular attractions on Kauai’s South Shore. This scenic drive through a canopy of eucalyptus trees is a must-do trip for anyone visiting the island. Here are some things you need to know about driving through Koloa’s famous Tree Tunnel.
A Century-Old Legacy
The Tree Tunnel was created over a century ago to provide shade for sugar plantation workers and their mules. Today, it remains an iconic landmark that draws visitors from all over the world. As you drive through the tunnel, you’ll feel like you’re transported back in time to an era when life moved at a slower pace.
Spouting Horn Park
Along the way, visitors can stop at Spouting Horn Park to see a natural blowhole and explore nearby caves. The park is named after its most famous feature – a natural blowhole that shoots water up into the air with incredible force. The sound it makes is reminiscent of a whale spouting water from its blowhole, hence its name.
Turtles near Port Allen
Turtles can often be spotted sunbathing on the beaches near Port Allen, which is just a short drive from the Tree Tunnel. These gentle creatures are protected by law, so it’s important not to disturb them or get too close. If you’re lucky enough to spot one, take some time to appreciate their beauty and grace.
Visiting Old Koloa Town
Exploring Old Koloa Town: A Trip to Kauai’s Past
Old Koloa Town is a charming historic district located on the south shore of Kauai. The town offers visitors a glimpse into the island’s past, with its many restored plantation-era buildings and fascinating history center. Here are some of the highlights that make Old Koloa Town worth a visit.
Restored Buildings and Local Businesses
One of the main draws of Old Koloa Town is its many shops, restaurants, and galleries, which are housed in beautifully restored plantation-era buildings. Visitors can stroll along the town’s quaint streets and take in the unique architecture while browsing for souvenirs or enjoying a meal at one of the local eateries.
The town also boasts an impressive art scene, with several galleries showcasing works by local artists. One such gallery is Banana Patch Studio, which features beautiful paintings, ceramics, and jewelry inspired by Hawaiian culture.
Koloa History Center
For those interested in learning more about the area’s sugar plantation history, a visit to the Koloa History Center is a must. The center provides an in-depth look at how sugar plantations shaped life on Kauai and includes exhibits on everything from labor practices to community life.
Visitors can also explore the nearby Sugar Mill Building, which houses artifacts from the plantation era and offers stunning views of Old Koloa Town from its rooftop observation deck.
Lawai International Center
Just minutes away from Old Koloa Town lies Lawai International Center, a hidden gem that offers guided tours of its beautiful gardens and sacred Hawaiian sites. The center was once home to one of Hawaii’s largest Buddhist temples and now serves as a peaceful sanctuary for visitors seeking spiritual renewal.
Guided tours take visitors through lush gardens filled with exotic plants and water features before culminating at ancient Hawaiian stone structures known as heiau. These sacred sites provide insight into traditional Hawaiian culture and offer a glimpse into the island’s rich history.
Old Koloa Town is conveniently located near the visitor center for the Napali Coast, one of Kauai’s most popular attractions. Visitors planning to explore this stunning natural wonder can easily make a stop in Old Koloa Town before or after their trip.
In addition to its proximity to the Napali Coast, Old Koloa Town is also just a short drive from other south shore destinations like Poipu Beach and Spouting Horn. Its central location makes it an ideal starting point for exploring all that Kauai’s south shore has to offer.
Botanical Gardens to Visit in Poipu
National Tropical Botanical Garden: A Must-Visit Garden in Poipu
The National Tropical Botanical Garden (NTBG) is a paradise for plant lovers. It spans over 200 acres and features an extensive collection of tropical plants from around the world. The garden has several sections, each with its unique theme and plant species. Visitors can explore the Allerton Garden, McBryde Garden, and Limahuli Garden, among others.
One of the highlights of NTBG is the McBryde Garden, which showcases diverse plant species from Hawaii and other tropical regions worldwide. The garden has over 50 acres of land that visitors can explore on guided tours or self-guided walks. Some must-see areas include the Canoe Garden, featuring plants used by ancient Hawaiians for food and medicine; the Desert House, showcasing cacti and succulents from around the world; and the Tropical Fruit Orchard, where visitors can taste exotic fruits like rambutan and lychee.
McBryde Gardens: Diverse Plant Species to Explore in Poipu
Another section of NTBG worth visiting is Allerton Gardens. This garden stands out because it combines natural beauty with man-made features like sculptures and waterfalls. The garden was once a private estate owned by Robert Allerton before being donated to NTBG in 1993. Visitors can explore different parts of Allerton Gardens on guided tours lasting about two hours.
Some notable features of Allerton Gardens include the towering Moreton Bay fig trees that have been featured in movies like Jurassic Park; the Bamboo Grove, a serene area filled with bamboo trees that rustle in the wind; and the Spouting Horn Grotto, where waves crash into a rocky cove creating spectacular sprays of water.
Allerton Gardens: A Unique Mix of Natural Beauty & Man-Made Features
Apart from botanical gardens, visitors to Poipu can also check out the Kauai Coffee Plantation. The plantation is located on the outskirts of Poipu and offers tours that take visitors through the coffee-making process, from harvesting to roasting. Visitors can also taste different types of coffee and buy bags of locally grown beans to take home.
Kauai Coffee Plantation: Tours & Tastings in Poipu
Golfing on Kauai’s South Shore
World-Class Golf Courses with Breathtaking Ocean Views
Kauai’s South Shore is a golfer’s paradise, boasting of world-class golf courses that offer breathtaking ocean views and challenging terrains. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a beginner, there’s something for everyone in this island paradise. The Poipu Bay Golf Course, designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr., has hosted the PGA Grand Slam of Golf for 12 years and offers stunning views of the Pacific Ocean from every hole.
The Kiahuna Golf Club, located in the heart of Poipu, has been named one of Hawaii’s best courses by Golf Digest and features lush fairways and fast greens. The Puakea Golf Course is another popular choice among golfers, with its unique layout that takes you through deep ravines and over rolling hills. Each course offers its own set of challenges to keep players engaged and entertained throughout their game.
Variety of Clubs and Tours Catering to Different Skill Levels
Whether you prefer to bring your own clubs or rent them on-site, there are plenty of options available on Kauai’s South Shore. The golf clubs offer rental sets for men, women, and juniors at affordable rates. If you’re looking to improve your skills or take your game to the next level, there are also lessons available from experienced instructors who can provide personalized coaching based on your skill level.
For those who want to experience more than just one course during their vacation, there are various tours available that cater to different skill levels and preferences. Some tours include transportation to multiple courses throughout the island, while others offer exclusive access to private courses that aren’t open to the public.
Other Activities Beyond Golfing
While golf may be the main attraction on Kauai’s South Shore, visitors can also enjoy other activities such as surfing, tennis, exploring nearby parks and galleries during their stay. Surf enthusiasts can catch some waves at Poipu Beach or Hanalei Bay, while tennis players can book a court at one of the many resorts in the area.
For those who prefer to take it easy, there are plenty of parks and galleries to explore on the island. The Allerton Garden is a beautiful botanical garden with stunning views of the ocean, while the Kauai Museum showcases the island’s rich history and culture. Visitors can also enjoy live music performances at various venues throughout the South Shore, or relax at one of the beachfront bars after a day on the white sand beaches.
Experience the Best of Kauai’s South Shore
Vacation Rentals for Kauai Vacation Rental Guests
South Kauai offers a wide range of vacation rentals for Kauai vacation rental guests. Whether you’re looking for a beachfront property, condo, or private home, there are plenty of options to choose from in South Kauai. Many vacation rentals offer stunning ocean views and easy access to nearby beaches.
When choosing a vacation rental in South Kauai, consider the location and amenities offered. Some properties may be closer to popular attractions like Poipu Beach Park and Spouting Horn, while others may offer more privacy and seclusion. Amenities can vary greatly between properties as well, so be sure to check what is included before booking.
Outdoor Activities on Kauai’s South Shore
Visitors to Kauai’s South Shore can enjoy a variety of outdoor activities. Hiking is a popular activity in the area, with trails ranging from easy walks to more challenging treks through lush forests and scenic coastal areas. Snorkeling is another popular pastime in South Kauai, with clear waters teeming with colorful fish and other marine life.
For those looking for some adventure on the water, surfing lessons are available at many local beaches. Kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding are also great ways to explore the coastline and nearby waterways.
Attractions on the South Shore
The South Shore is home to several popular attractions that are worth checking out during your visit. Poipu Beach Park is one of the most famous beaches in Hawaii, known for its calm waters and excellent snorkeling opportunities. Spouting Horn is another must-see attraction in the area, where water shoots up through a natural lava tube creating an impressive display.
In addition to these natural wonders, visitors can also experience local culture by attending events like the weekly farmer’s market in nearby Koloa town. Here you’ll find fresh produce grown by local farmers as well as handmade crafts and other goods.
Why Kauai is the Best Island
Kauai is often considered one of the best islands in Hawaii, thanks to its stunning natural scenery and laid-back atmosphere. The island offers a wide range of outdoor activities, from hiking and surfing to whale watching and ziplining. Visitors can also explore charming towns like Hanalei and Waimea, which offer a glimpse into Kauai’s rich history and culture.
While Kauai may be more expensive than some other Hawaiian destinations, it’s worth the extra cost for the unparalleled beauty and unique experiences that the island has to offer. From luxurious resorts to rustic cabins, there are plenty of accommodations to choose from on Kauai that will fit any budget.
In conclusion, Kauai’s South Shore is a paradise for beach lovers, nature enthusiasts, and adventure seekers. With its stunning beaches, crystal-clear waters, lush botanical gardens, and scenic hiking trails, there’s no shortage of things to see and do on this side of the island.
Whether you’re looking to relax on the sand or explore the great outdoors, Kauai’s South Shore has something for everyone. From snorkeling in Poipu to golfing at one of the many world-class courses in the area, there are plenty of activities to keep you busy during your stay.
But perhaps what makes Kauai’s South Shore truly special is its rich history and culture. From exploring the Koloa Heritage Trail to visiting Old Koloa Town, there are plenty of opportunities to learn about the island’s past and immerse yourself in its unique traditions.
So if you’re planning a trip to Kauai and want to experience all that this beautiful island has to offer, be sure to add the South Shore to your itinerary. With its breathtaking scenery, warm hospitality, and endless activities, it’s sure to be an unforgettable vacation destination.
Looking to explore the beautiful landscapes of Kauai? Learn about the distinctive features, unique attractions, and culture of each area with our comprehensive guide on Kauai Regions. Plan your trip now and make the most of your visit to this paradise.