The Koloa Heritage Trail is a self-guided 10-mile walk, bike ride or drive that will take you to some of the Poipu and Koloa region’s most significant cultural, historical and geological sites. Along the way you’ll find informative plagues describing the importance of each of the 14 spots.
This is a pleasant walk on fairly flat terrain, making it doable for most all ages and fitness levels.
Spouting Horn Park is home to the awe-inspiring Spouting Horn blowhole. This is one of the most photographed spots on the island. Here the water rushes into the narrow opening of a natural lava tube, releasing a huge spout of water as the ocean swells. The hissing and roaring sound gave birth to a Hawaiian legend of a lizard that was caught in the lava tube. It is said to be the lizard’s roar and her breath that sprays from the blowhole.
Next you’ll see the site of Prince Kuhio’s birth. Prince Kuhio Kalanianaole was the last royal heir to the throne and as a delegate to Congress he worked diligently for the rights of native Hawaiians. The foundation of his royal home remains can be found here at Prince Kuhio Birthplace & Park.
The third spot, Hanakaape Bay & Koloa Landing, was the site where as many as 60 ships were anchored each year during Hawaii’s 19th century whaling boom. At Moir Gardens you’ll see what began as a hobby garden and was transformed into one of the best in the world of its kind, featuring water lilly-filled rock ponds, orchid, a variety of cactus and more.
Just east at stop number five, the ancient temple that once stood here, Kihahouna Heiau was dedicated to several Hawaiian gods, including Kane the god of creation. The temple was 130 feet by 90feet and today, three hala-lihilihi-ula trees mark the heiau perimeter.
Poipu Beach Park is a popular attraction with the opportunity to see the endangered native Hawaiian monk seal as well as Green sea turtles. From December through April, this is also a good spot to view majestic humpback whales.
Keoneloa Bay is the home to some of the island’s oldest occupied sites, dating back to 200-600 AD. At stop number 8 you’ll come to the Makawehi & Pa’a Dunes and one that many feel is a highlight on the trail. The sand dunes are made up of fossilized bird bones, plant roots, crab claws and other substances. You’ll find many birds nesting and roosting here, especially from March to November.
Next, the Pu’uwanawana Volcanic Cone is one of the younger cones that make up the 5-million-year-old island. Number 10, Hapa Road was utilized as a supply and emergency evacuation route during World War II and there is also evidence that Hawaiians have lived in the area since 1200 AD. The Koloa Jodo Mission is a Buddhist Temple built in 1910, providing Japanese immigrants a place to worship, study their language, learn martial arts and take part in social events.
Finally, the Sugar Monument commemorates Hawaii’s first sugar mill, opened here in 1835 and just across the street is the Yammamoto Store & Koloa Hotel which was a booming establishment during the region’s sugar-plantation area. The last stop, number 14, is the Koloa Missionary Church, the first congregational church in Kauai and part of a homestead once owned by medical missionary Dr. James W. Smith.