Lawai is a quiet little town on the south shore of Kauai. It is occupied by a little over 2500 inhabitants.
Lawai is bordered by Kalaheo to the west and Omao to the east and is only a few miles away from Poipu, the most happening place on the south shore.
In stark contrast to its seemingly dull environment, Lawai is one of the most photographed places in Kauai. It offers a blend of nature, culture and modern life which never ceases to amaze visitors.
Here is a list of popular places to visit when you are in Lawai:
McBryde and Allerton Gardens
Managed by the non-profit group National Tropical Botanical Gardens, Allerton and McBryde Gardens, in total, encompass 350 acres of land that provides a safe haven for hundreds of exotic and endangered species of flora. The McBryde Garden alone has 4000 species of plants and trees that are nurtured for conservation and research purposes.
In the Allerton garden, you’ll get to see 85 acres of manicured landscape architecture that’s a feast to the eye. It is also home to the Moreton Bay Figs, a tree with giant roots that was wildly popularized by the Jurassic Park Franchise. You’ll find historical structures like Queen Emma’s house and a gift shop inside.
The tour of the gardens starts from their south shore visitor center. You can either take a narrated tram ride or take a self-guided tour of the McBryde and Allerton Gardens and immerse yourself in this magical atmosphere.
Not too far from spouting from, to the west, is this small beach with a narrow strip of white sand.
Although everything seems usual here, the underwater display is quite spectacular. Different varieties of exotic fish including the pufferfish, Gill, Moorish idol, Lionfish, and many others decorate the ocean.
The beach is less crowded during the day and the ocean is much calmer at this time. Snorkel gear can be rented next to the beach house restaurant. Considering the welcoming conditions for snorkelers, this is one of the best snorkeling spots on the island.
There are three surf breaks, caused by offshore reefs, that are perfect for amateur and experienced surfers. Sometimes there will be no lifeguard on the beach and hence responsible behavior is requested.
Lawai International Centre
This is Kauai’s archeological and cultural treasure built in a valley which the ancient Hawaiians recognized as a healing sanctuary.
Following the natives, Japanese immigrants came to recognize this site for its healing presence and built 88 shrines replicating an ancient pilgrimage of 88 temples in Shikoku, Japan. It is a hillside route similar to the pilgrimage route in Japan. Today, this is one of the oldest Buddhist temple sites in the USA.
As the years progressed the shrines deteriorated. Numerous volunteers contributed to its renovation demonstrated the community spirit this place stands for. Today the old temple has been replaced with a new monument called the Hall of Compassion.
A walking tour of the 88 shrines is available to tourists on the second and last Sunday of every month. The center is a non-profit community project and actively organizes various community events like a community caring day and tea ceremony at the hall of compassion.
This is a natural blowhole situated across the McBryde and Allerton Gardens. It is a highly popular and well-photographed tourist spot on the island.
The ocean water here flows through crevices on the lava rocks and shoots up from the blowhole, thus creating a natural fountain. Sometimes the water goes as high as 40 ft in the air, making a loud hissing sound and putting up a brilliant show for the people gathered.
If you want to tell an interesting story to your kids, you might want to know the ancient Hawaiian legend about a big lizard that guarded the place. It says that the lizard somehow got trapped in the channel and that its hissing sound can be heard through the blowhole even today.
Once you are done with shooting insta-worthy photographs, you can shop for crafts and antiques from the street vendors present during the day.
The neat and well-maintained viewing area is great for enjoying the evening sunset and also to spot humpback whales during the whale watching season.
Summary and Infographic
Although less populated, this quaint little town doesn’t shy away from having fun. Lawai has a good selection of shopping and dining places that perfectly compliment your visit.
With amazing scenery, mesmerizing locations and a glimpse of history, this small village will make your trip worth every penny. With less tourist traffic, this is truly a hidden gem on the south shore of The Garden Isle.