The popularity of Poipu amongst people can be traced back for thousands of years. What is now a favored location for visitors and locals alike, was also considered ideal eight thousand years ago.
With a history rich in cultural, geographical and economic events, Poipu’s past is seldom spoken about. Today, most visitors head to the “sunny south shore” of Kauai for its perfect weather, family-friendly beaches, ample activities, designer shopping and renowned restaurants. However, just slightly off the beaten path, you can find sacred sanctuaries, archeological sites, lava tubes and ancient trails that will take you back in time. Discover the full Poipu experience for yourself!
It’s easy to discover Poipu’s past once you know where to go. That’s why we’ve chosen three experiences to clue you in on. By exploring these places, we hope you feel the mana (Hawaiian for “life force”) that has drawn people here for thousands of years and may they inspire within you a deeper connection to the aina (Hawaiian for “land”).
The Kāneiolouma Complex
The intricate pathways and terraces constructed of impressive rock wall systems is all that remains of a once thriving Hawaiian village. Today, this 13 acre site is actively restored as dedicated volunteers, historians and archeologists bridge the gap between past and present. Allow the only intact Makahiki sporting area in the state tell you of the games it once held. Allow the fish ponds and taro fields to come alive as you witness the advanced irrigation systems. And allow the sacred shrines and idol sites to bring your own spirit to life.
Kāneiolouma is hard to miss, as it is centrally located in downtown Poipu just behind Brennecke’s and adjacent to the Poipu Beach Park parking lot.
The Hapa Trail
What was once the main route connecting Koloa and Poipu in the 1800s has now been restored for all to enjoy. Designated by the County of Kauai as a pedestrian and bike pathway, the Hapa Trail passes by significant archeological sites and preserves. See old train tracks that used to haul cane sugar and a lava rock wall that was built around 1200 A.D. You can walk or bike the Hapa Trail on your own or request a guide to learn more!
The Hapa Trail is a part of the larger Koloa Heritage Trail. A 10 mile walk, bike or drive takes you to 14 different gems that highlight how important the Koloa District of Kauai has been throughout history. You can download a map of the Koloa Heritage Trail online to follow yourself or you can request a guide for hands-on learning.
Maha’ulepu Heritage Trail
The beginning of this trail is at the end of Shipwrecks Beach and follows the edge of the cliff along the golf course. You can follow it all the way to Kamala Point, or just to the cave past the dunes. While this trail is not for the faint-hearted, the geographical discoveries are well worth the journey. You can even walk to Hawaii’s only Tortoise Preserve! If you are feeling more into the sights than you are the trek, then jump in the car and make the bumpy, but easy drive to Maha’ulepu Beach and beyond. Be warned of deep potholes!
Along this seldomly seen portion of the South Shore, you can find ancient petroglyphs, the largest limestone cave in Hawaii, dry lava tubes and excellent wildlife sightings. Maha’ulepu is like the rugged Wild West of the South Shore, so dress and bring appropriate supplies.
Start exploring Kauai!
A helpful Kauai Exclusive agent will be happy to help you with information regarding any of these activities on Kauai’s Sunny South Shore. There is something for everyone in and around Poipu, and we aim to provide helpful information to amplify your enjoyment!