Hawaii Kauai Beach Cook James Cook Niihau Polihale Hauola Waioli Grove Farm

The island of Kauai is the oldest of the Hawaiian islands and the fourth largest. The first settlers of the island came around the fourth or fifth century A.D. bringing with them basic food items like the taro, which is used to make poi, one of today’s highlight in Hawaiian luaus.

Kauai, the “Garden Isle,” was found by British explorer Captain James Cook in 1778 – he called the archipelago “Sandwich Isles,” after the Earl of Sandwich. The current population of Kauai is 61,929 and its capital city is Lihue.

Kauai and Niihau (also part of Kauai County) were the last of the Hawaiian islands to join the Kingdom of Hawaii. King Kamehameha had tried twice to conquer the islands but failed both times (the first time a storm was to blame, the second time an epidemic). However, when the ruler of the two renegade islands, Kaumualii, knew of a third try he decided to peacefully join the kingdom in 1810, to avoid more bloodshed. This way, Kauai (and Niihau) was the only island not conquered by force by King Kamehameha.

There are several historical sites in Hawaii you shouldn’t miss if you are a history enthusiast. Here are the main ones:

Polihale Heiau

Heiau means temple, and this one in particular, the biggest on the island, still houses ancient idol sites. Polihale is the name of the beach on Kauai where this heiau (or temple) was built. According to the mythology, Polihale means “House of Po” and Po is the Hawaiian afterworld.
This temple is a terraced structure 25-30 yards wide with walls that are eight feet thick!

Hauola Place of Refuge

Hauola (dew of life) was one of two places of refuge on Kauai where people could go if they had broken a kapu’ (forbidden thing). They could also come to the site if they belonged to a defeated army. Once in this sanctuary they would go through rites performed by priests and then they were free to go back home.

Waioli Mission House

Built of coral limestone blocks in 1837, this House was the home of early Christian missionaries Abner and Lucy Wilcox. It is amazing how the house and grounds captures rural life on Kauai 160 years ago. When visiting, don’t forget to check out the wall clock which was installed in 1866 and still works like a wonder! Restored in 1921.
FYI: admission free; nonprofit organization; guided tours; handicap access.

Grove Farm Homestead Museum

This 80-acre sugar plantation shows life in Hawaii during the plantation era in 1864. It belonged to George N. Wilcox, and it was turned into a museum in 1978. The condition of the main house on the grounds is outstanding, and it looks virtually the same as it did when Mr. Wilcox lived there with period furniture, walls and staircase made of native Koa wood, and plantation artifacts, among other items. This constitutes the best remaining example of a sugar plantation homestead.
There is a wash house, a tea house, a guest cottage, the worker’s quarters and tropical gardens on the grounds as well.
FYI: Book tours well in advance.

Kauai Museum

This museum was established in 1960 to preserve the culture of Kauai. It contains ancient artifatcs, exhibits and murals which portray the history of Kauai, as well as galleries dedicated to the culture of the island and works of local artists. It constitutes the cultural sanctuary for the art and artifacts of Native Hawaiians.
The museum hold it its mission to inspire the community to appreciate and respect the indigenous and immigrant people of both Kauai and Niihau, and their culture.
This museum is a privately owned non-profit organization, so all sales go to the exhibitions and programs dedicated to education.
FYI: Here you’ll find the best gift shop in all of Lihue!