South Side Vacation Guide: Popular Activities, Attractions, and Things To Do
(Part 4 of 5 of the Kauai Vacation Guide – Which Side of the Island is Best For You?)
South Shore: Koloa, Poipu, Omao, Lawai, Kalaheo
Popular for its consistent sunshine, great shopping, and sandy beaches, the South Shore is the place to go to if you’re looking for great weather. Fun activities and fantastic restaurants are also scattered among the gorgeous landscape, easily making it the most desirable spot for vacationers.
After leaving Puhi, you’ll eventually come to Maluhia Road, locally known as the Tree Tunnel (left-hand side of the road), which is a road that leads you through a massive tunnel of eucalyptus trees to the towns of Koloa and Poipu.
Historic Koloa town is located before Poipu when you’re heading South/Southwest. Historic for its ties to sugar production, its many monuments, Heiaus, and botanical gardens, this is a town full of places to learn about Kauai’s past and was actually the site of the state’s first successful sugar mill. Founded in 1835, the town has some of the oldest buildings in all of Hawaii. Whether you’re learning about the island’s history, signing up for an activity, or simply grabbing an ice cream cone, Koloa offers some exceptional island experiences.
Here are some worthy places to visit in Koloa:
Old Koloa Town is made up of quaint plantation buildings that have been tastefully restored. Stroll in the shade under an impressive canopy of monkeypod trees and visit unique art galleries, boutiques, and restaurants. If you’re visiting in July, be sure to attend the Old Koloa Plantation Days Celebration, which is an annual event that honors Kauai’s plantation history.
History Center: If learning about the past interests you, be sure to stop by the History Center. You’ll be able to see old photographs and artifacts that give you a glimpse into the plantation era and beginning days of Koloa. Cool stuff – and excellent conversation starter material.
Koloa Heritage Trail: A great place to see some of Kauai’s best historic offerings is the Koloa Heritage Trail, which covers 14 cultural, historical, and geological sites from Old Koloa Town to Poipu. You can see the Puuwanawana Volcanic Cone from which Kauai was born, and visit the ancient walled temple of Kihahouna Heiau or the spectacular Spouting Horn geyser.
See some of Kauai’s best historic offerings on the Koloa Heritage Trail
Known For: Historic Sites, Heiaus, Puuwanawana Volcanic Cone, Boutique Shopping
Places to Visit: Old Koloa Town, History Center, Koloa Heritage Trail
Best Restaurants: Koloa Mill Ice Cream & Coffee, Pizzetta
Weather: Warm, Sunny
Distance from Lihue Airport: 20 min
Shopping: Hula Moon Gifts, Island Soap & Candle Works, Island Style Pacific Inspired Treasures & Adventures, Southshore Bikinis, Progressive Expressions, Pohaku T’s, Jungle Girl
Known as Sunny Poipu, this town offers a luxurious resort vacation experience and therefore is where a lot of visitors end up spending their time. Poipu has some great sandy beaches to explore, activities to discover, and fine restaurants for dining. When you’re in Poipu, be sure to check out the following hot spots:
Poipu Beach Park is consistently ranked as one of the nation’s best beaches. This beach is also considered one of the safest beaches on Kauai. It’s great for kids and people of all ages. This white sand beach offers a protected area for kids to swim and play, and also offers great beach space for sun-bathers. It’s a popular place to snorkel and is also a common place to spot Hawaiian monk seals, which are always a treat to see. Poipu Beach Park is also a great place to bring a picnic lunch to and enjoy the beautiful Kauai sunshine.
Kiahuna Golf Course: One of the main attractions on the South Shore is golfing and you can find a few great golf courses in Poipu, like Kiahuna Golf Course. The Kiahuna Golf Club offers 18 holes, par 70 and 6925 yards. It’s a fun course designed by Robert Trent Jones II. Its location experiences windy conditions at times, making the course extra challenging. There are a few different South Shore golf courses to get some tee time in, and the great weather just helps ensure that happens as much as possible.
Spouting Horn is another great attraction on this side of the island. There is a natural lava tube in the reef that sprays ocean water as high as 50 feet into the air whenever a wave get channeled into the area. Large swells in the wintertime (Dec-May) provide the best chance to see the biggest water spouts, which is also a great time to do some whale watching right from land.
Another great thing about this location is that there are local vendors here that sell everything from shell jewelry to one-of-a-kind Kauai-made gifts. The whole family will enjoy this stop, so make sure you add it to your list of things to do on Kauai’s South Shore.
Makawehi Lithified Cliffs: If you are wanting to hike a little on the South Side, go see the lithified cliffs. It’s an easy hike with little elevation, perfect for the whole family, is well marked with signs, and the views are stunning. You can spend an hour or half a day hiking, depending on how far you want to go. It is best to go in the morning so it is not too hot, and don’t forget your water bottle.
Are you ready for a fun Kauai adventure that the whole family can participate in?
Known For: Sunny Weather, Beaches, Shopping, Resorts, Golf Courses
Places to Visit: Poipu Beach Park, Spouting Horn, Kiahuna Golf Course, Makawehi Lithified Cliffs
Best Restaurants: Beach House Restaurant, Keoki’s Paradise, Eating House 1849, Rum Fire, Puka Dogs, Uncle’s Shave Ice
Best Beaches: Poipu Beach Park, Brennecke’s, Shipwreck Beach, Lawai Kai, Mahaulepu Beach, Baby Beach,
Weather: Sunny, Hot
Distance from Lihue Airport: 40 min
Shopping: Poipu Shopping Village, The Shops at Kukui’ula
After Poipu, you’ll find the town of Lawai. You can find little stores and places to grab some food along the way, but this town is mainly residential as there aren’t many beaches or activities here. You can find two of the nation’s five National Tropical Botanical Gardens in Lawai though.
Lawai is home to some gorgeous scenic attractions, including:
Lawai International Center is an archaeological and cultural site that is home to one of the oldest Buddhist temples in the country. You can go on a walking tour and see 88 shrines built by Japanese immigrants, replicating an ancient pilgrimage of 88 temples in Shikoku, Japan. They offer tours on the second and last Sunday of the month, just make sure you wear comfortable shoes.
Allerton Garden: 80 impressive acres of natural beauty. “Here the focus is on landscape design, but among the plantings are botanically important species of the tropics, including varieties of palms, heliconias, and gingers.” On the 3 hour tour, you will learn all about the plants and will also be able to try some of them (fruits). It is recommended you wear lightweight, protective clothing (for mosquitos) and use plenty of bug spray.
Video tour of Allerton Garden
McBryde Garden: Just like Allerton Garden, McBryde Garden is part of the National Tropical Botanical Garden. However, it is much bigger at 259 acres. It is located adjacent to Allerton Garden and “is home to the world’s largest collection of native Hawaiian species outside the wild, and extensive plantings of palms, flowering trees, ornamentals, orchids, and other plants from tropical regions. The landscape is a combination of sprawling expanses and niches of plantings, bordering a meandering stream.” It’s a beautiful place to explore nature and some interior spots on Kauai. Don’t forget to wear lightweight, protective clothing (for mosquitos) and bring plenty of bug spray.
Video introduction to McBryde Garden and Allerton Garden
Known For: Botanical gardens and scenic attractions
Places to Visit: Lawai International Center, Allerton Garden, McBryde Garden
Best Restaurants: N/A
Best Beaches: N/A
Weather: Warm, Sunny
Distance from Lihue Airport: 30 min
Find Sun and Smiles on Kauai’s South Side
The South Side is pretty popular with visitors and those looking to find the sun. Learn some of Kauai’s great history, see some amazing, one-of-a-kind sights, eat from an award-winning restaurant, play on some of the most beautiful golf courses in the world, or simply relax poolside with your beverage of choice. No matter what you decide to do on Kauai’s South Shore, we’re positive that you’ll enjoy your time here. So to all you shoppers, beachgoers, adventurers, and opportunists out there, come see what you can discover on the sunny South Shore of Kauai.