Kilauea, Kauai – Home to a Historic Lighthouse, a Wildlife Refuge and more…
The small town of Kilauea lies on the northern side of Kauai. In fact, it’s the northern most area on the Hawaiian Islands. Here in Kilauea you’ll find picturesque views of the ocean, a beautiful lighthouse and a national wildlife refuge.
Kilauea’s most famous landmark is Kilauea Lighthouse, which sits atop a 568-foot cliff overlooking the ocean. Built in 1913, this 52-foot lighthouse has a nostalgic look to it, with a red top and clean white walls. At the time it was built, it had the largest clamshell lens in the world, but an automatic beacon replaced the lighthouse in 1976. The cliff, Kilauea Point, where it was built is the northern most point of all the Hawaiian Islands. Near the lighthouse on Kilauea Point is a nice little museum that provides historical information about the lighthouse and enhances the visitor experience.
The lighthouse is open Monday through Friday, 10 AM to 4 PM (808) 828-1413. Although visitors aren’t allowed to go up the stairs to visit the light, self-guided tours of the lighthouse are allowed. The cost is three dollars per person to get in. It’s also a great place for taking pictures, as the view of the ocean is spectacular here.
Directions to Kilauea Lighthouse: From Lihue take highway 56 North. Just past the 23-mile marker turn right on Kilauea Rd. Drive 2 miles to the end of the road. The lighthouse is within walking distance from there.
Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge
Surrounding Kilauea Lighthouse is the Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge. Every year the refuge is used by thousands of migratory seabirds nesting, foraging, feeding and resting. This is a great place for spotting laysan albatross, red-footed boobies, brown boobies, red-tailed and white-tailed tropicbirds, great frigatebirds, and wedge-tailed shearwaters. There is also a colony of nene geese (the Hawaiian state bird) that lives here. Besides birds, there are some other animals that can be seen here as well. Off shore visitors can see endangered humpback whales and the Hawaiian monk seal, some of which like to rest down on the beaches below the cliff. Another interesting sight is Moku‘ae‘ae Island, a tiny 5-acre rock just offshore from Kilauea Point. This little island is home to about 20 different species of seabirds.
Other Kilauea Areas of Interest
While you’re in the Kilauea area, there are a few other places you might be interested in visiting as well.
One such place, just north of Kilauea, is Banana Joe’s Fruitstand. Now if you’re going to vacation in an exotic tropical island like Kauai, it only makes sense that you would want to eat some delicious, exotic, tropical fruit. Well, Banana Joe’s has some of the best fruit on the island. They offer a wide variety of exotic fruits and specialty crops that are simply amazing; from more common tropical fruit like pineapple, mango, papaya and banana to some very exotic fruits that you may never have heard of such as sapodilla, lychee, atemoya, rambutan, canistel, jakfruit, caimito, mammey sapote and longan. Banana Joe’s is located on the mauka (towards the mountains) side of the highway, just north of Kilauea.
Another place you might find interesting is the Guava Kai Plantation. This plantation gives you the opportunity to peak inside Hawaii’s agriculture, see a beautiful guava orchard and of course sample some delicious guava juice. They also have a visitor center with various guava products. To get there, just take the same route as if you’re going to Kilauea Lighthouse except you’re going to turn mauka (towards the mountains) on Kuawa Rd, which is just before Kilauea Rd. Just look for the Guava Kai sign along the highway.
One other place near Kilauea that you might like to visit is Kilauea Bay also known as Quarry Beach. This is where Kilauea River flows into the ocean. It’s a relatively secluded sight with no buildings around, but plenty of trees and shade, making it a very nice area for a picnic – no facilities, although it does have picnic tables. The beach is a bit too dangerous for swimming, due to strong currents. Some people do swim, snorkel and surf here, but unless you’re familiar with the water conditions, it’s best not to swim.
Directions to Kilauea Bay: From Lihue take Highway 56, turn makai (towards the ocean) on Wailapa Road. Drive about half a mile; turn left to Kahili Beach on the dirt and gravel road. When this dead-ends, walk towards the water until you reach the beach.