The south shore is popularly known as the sunny side of Kauai. It is a perfect blend of the old ambience of historical towns and the modern high-end resort lifestyle.
The south shore is reached through the famous Tree Tunnel road, a beautiful lining of eucalyptus trees creating a gateway to the towns Koloa and Poipu. The tree tunnel road is also sometimes referred to as Maluhia road.
The island has a rich history associated with sugar cane and the old town of Koloa speaks of its legacy even to this day. The island witnessed its first sugar mill in Koloa in 1835, which led to sugar mills mushrooming in other parts of the island thus revolutionizing the islands economy.
Along with its stunning beauty and rich history, the south shore also boasts of abundant marine life. The Hawaiian monk seals, sea turtles and humpback whales are a common sight in this part of the island.
Ranging from beaches, golf courses, shopping, nightlife, resorts and restaurants, the south shore of Kauai is full of goodies for travellers eager to discover them. .
Things to do on the South Shore
Explore the historical town of Koloa
The ancient town of Koloa is the birthplace of hawaiian sugar industry. You can start by taking a tour of the Koloa Sugar Mill which marks an important chapter in the history of Kauai. The sugar mill is located at the center of Koloa surrounded by numerous galleries and dining options.
Since its inception in 1835, the sugar mill thrived for over a hundred years before finally closing down in 1996. It has now been declared as a National Historical Landmark.
As you enter the factory premises, you will be greeted with a bronze sculpture made in memory of people from different cultural backgrounds who worked in the sugar mill and contributed in the sugar revolution. Displaying the legacy of old sugar days of Kauai, the ancient structures of the Koloa sugar mill also serve as a perfect photo opportunity for the modern day admirer.
Dive deeper into the history of Koloa by exploring the 10 mile long Koloa Heritage Trail by walk or bike. You can also choose to drive off the trail and stop at the heritage sites to explore them. The trail consists of 14 important sites between Koloa and Poipu with informative plaques giving a description of each place. The heritage trail gives a good glimpse of the diversified Hawaiian culture and gives an even better perception of the island’s history.
Have Fun at Poipu Beach Park
Once named as America’s best beach by the Travel Channel, Poipu beach is one of the most popular beaches on island. Being the resort destination of Kauai, Poipu attracts a lot of tourists for its luxurious resorts and condos fronted by the beach.
Poipu beach is a popular spot for water activities like swimming, snorkeling, boogie boarding, and surfing. The calm waters also make the place an ideal location for a family picnic. The beach is divided into two halves by a sandbar, where Hawaiian monk seals can be found sunbathing in summer time. Humpback whales are a common sight during the winter months.
Brennecke’s beach located on the east end of Poipu beach park is also famous among locals and tourists for water adventures. It has an abundance of marine life with different variety of fishes and coral reef making it an ideal snorkeling spot.
Discover the trail starting from Shipwreck Beach
En route to the Mahaulepu beach, you’ll be passing through the southernmost tip of the island.
The route is marked by dirt roads, rocky trails over limestone cliffs and burial grounds. The site is an archaeological wonder as the peculiar shape of the golden brown rocks along the coastline never ceases to impress travellers.
Indulging in water activities on the beach can be dangerous because of the strong currents and erratic waters. The beach is best suited for scenic coastal walks and exploration.
Visit Mcbryde and Allerton Gardens
Located on the banks of Lawai river, the McBryde and Allerton gardens are two of the five gardens under the National Tropical Botanical Garden.
This is a shining example of preservation of nature and is truly a tropical paradise. The place has been grown and caressed over the course of centuries and today the combined area totals to about 350 acres of preserved flora.
The bamboo grove, moreton bay figs or the Jurassic park trees, the mermaid room and the gravity based water systems inside the garden are not to be missed. Allerton Garden was inherited by Queen Emma who resided in this property for a short interval. Her cottage has now been shifted and is open for visitors.
The management has come up with brilliant initiatives for conservation, science and research and for ensuring the survival of tropical plants, their ecosystems, and cultural knowledge.
Allerton Garden includes garden rooms, pools, miniature waterfalls, fountains, and statues. Sunset and dinner tours are offered covering both the gardens together or exclusively.
Stare in awe at the Spouting horn
Also a part of the Koloa Heritage Trail, the spouting horn is one of the most unique and photographed spots on Kauai. The lava rocks on the coastline have a hollow channel through which the ocean water is naturally forced during a tide. The blowhole on the top, then releases a huge spout of water that sometimes goes upto a height of 50ft in air.
There is a safe watching area from where you can stare in awe at the marvellous work of nature. The spouting horn is visually appealing and best experienced during high tide.
The shore is also a great location to spot humpback whales and their acrobatics during the whale watching season.
Pay a visit to the Kauai Coffee Company
The Kauai Coffee Company is the largest coffee grower in the United States. With the sugar barons entering into this venture a few decades ago, this was destined to be big.
From growing the coffee to roasting and packaging, they employ sustainable, environmentally sound practices throughout every step of the process. The place is famous for its well harvested, roasted and freshly served coffee.
Take a tour of their plantation to understand the entire process of coffee making. If you’ve been drinking coffee on Kauai, it’s interesting to know where it comes from and how it is made. The experience will only increase your love for coffee. The Kauai Coffee Company offers free tasting of their coffees and also have a gift shop.
South Shore Shopping
The south shore has a variety of shopping options ranging from small shops to elegant shopping malls. The Poipu shopping village is a shopper’s paradise with a lovely garden setting in the heart of Poipu. It is home to award winning restaurants, juice bars, and a variety of shops selling clothing, jewellery, surfing gear, arts and souvenirs. The shopping village offers free live entertainment with traditional hula and hawaiian music every Monday and Thursday.
The Kukuiula shopping centre is Kauai’s newest premier shopping, dining and fine art destination. Old Koloa town is also an excellent destination for shopping. The quaint little shops, galleries and eateries, some of which still operate within the old buildings from the plantation days, are the highlight and and offer a unique shopping experience.
Summary and Infographic
It is rarely that we find historical structures, exotic beaches, massive botanical gardens and modern high-end lifestyle options all in one place. With a blend of luxury and tradition, the south shore is sure to engage everyone who pays a visit.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on 15 March 2018. It’s been regularly updated since then for relevance and freshness.