Known as the major town of Kauai County, Lihue is a very small town. Niihau, also called Forbidden Island is also part of Kauai County. Lihue used to be sugar plantations land when this was the main industry in the area, around 1837. The Lihue Sugar Company is an old building above the city, a reminder of what the town used to be. A Honolulu banker named Charles Reed Bishop and Henry Pierce, a businessman from Boston, founded the town.
Today, Lihue takes center stage as being the hub for transportation, as the airport is a few minutes to the east and two major roads meet at Lihue - route 56 and route 50. Expansion in the airport to accommodate long haul jets is on the horizon; as this airport can only allow Hawaiian Air or Aloha Airways inter island jets, due to space. Today, this would benefit the tourism in the area; however, environmentalists do not like the idea, so there is debate.
Kauai is a quiet island, more rural when compared to Oahu and Maui. The town of Lihue has two museums, where visitors can learn about the rich culture and history of Kauai.
The Grove Farm Homestead Museum is located at Nawiliwili Road, Lihue. The contact number is 245 3202
Opened in 1864, the sugar plantation known as the Grove Farm is now a museum, which speaks of the early days of the sugar industry. The main building is the museum, but in the area, you can also find the Hawaiian grass huts, gorgeous tropical flowers, and workshops that are authentic of the times. In addition, a railway line that has been restored and operates sporadically. To visit the place you must make a reservation for the tours, which takes about two hours; no tours are given without reservation.
The Kauai Museum at 4428 Rice Street, Lihue, Tel: 245 6931
The Kauai museum is where visitors can learn about Kauai's rich history and culture. This used to be the public library, but in 1970, was turned into a museum. The exhibits are permanent and features topics such as geology, fauna, flora, pre-contact Hawaiiana, and interesting artifacts from the time of the plantation period and the missionary times.
Kappa has the biggest population of the Kauai cities. It is situated to the north of Lihue about fourteen miles. This old sugar town boasts colorful homes made of wood, but also has some hotels that have been constructed around or inside the Coconut Plantation. There is also, what is known as the Coconut Shopping Center. Some of the accommodations that will offer the best value to the visitor are the Kauai Sands, the Kauai Beach boy, the Kauai Coconut Beach, and the Islander on the Beach.
Kappa is a great place to visit, as it is centered to the best of Kauai sites, but you can also travel conveniently to the North and South of the Island. In addition, the climate there is mild, compared to the hotter summers of the south area of the island. Two excellent vacation rentals in the area above Kappa, are Hale Lani and Hale Aina Lani rentals. These are located next to the waterfalls and have great views of the Wailua River.
In Kappa, you will also find some shops and restaurants. The atmosphere is of small town charm, conducive to strolls, walks, and a few stops at some of the cafes and eateries. Cafe Coco is a charming establishment that you can visit during the evening, and the Mermaid Cafe caters to vegetarians with a great selection of food items. For great coffee, visit the Small Town Coffee Co.
You can find the Royal Coconut Grove situated between Kapaa and Wailua, right on Rt. 56. This is the largest Coconut Grove on the island. A German immigrant named William Lindemann planted this coconut grove in the 19th century. His intention was to extract oil from the coconuts for industrial purposes, but the business failed. However, today the area is famous with Hollywood, which films some movies here. Movies such as South Pacific and Blue Hawaii were filmed here, at least some of the scenes were. In addition, the area is popular with tourists. Hollywood built a real wedding chapel for one of the movies, and is actually being utilized for real weddings; more than three thousand weddings have been celebrated in that chapel since it was constructed.
This river is the only one that can be navigated in Hawaii. The word Wailua means "two waters," referring to the Wailua River and the ocean. This area was home to the legendary Mu, similar to the Menehune people. After, the Polynesians settled in the area due to the richness of the location, offering the river, fertile grounds and plenty of food.
Today you can find the best bed and breakfast of the area and some vacation homes, overlooking the picturesque scenery that boasts gorgeous waterfalls, lush greenery, and green pastures. Two great places to stay are Honua Lani Gardens and Ihona Cottage. They are conveniently located in a rural part that is close to the shopping areas and the entertainment areas as well. These places are also budget friendly.
The Smith family does tours of the Wailua River by boat. They take you to the Fern Grotto. This is an Amphitheatre, a huge rock. Many weddings are celebrated at the Fern Grotto and visitors enjoy the trip with the friendly members of the Smith family. All generations work the business.
The valley has a garden that is landscaped beautifully, with many colorful plantings and where you can watch the peacocks go by. In these natural surroundings, you will also find a Hawaiian fishing village, and you may go on a kayaking tour along the Wailua River. You can paddle to your contentment along the peaceful waters and take in the gorgeous scenery.
Two impressive waterfalls, the Wailua Falls are accessible from Hwy 583. These waterfalls are 80 feet high, but you can hike down a fresh water pool and enjoy the water. Legend has it that the chiefs had to prove their courage by jumping of these cliffs.
Since reefs do not protect the beaches on the east coast, the swimming conditions may be dangerous as they are exposed to the ocean currents. You may be able to windsurf and surf in some areas, but always check the weather and ocean conditions before going swimming or surfing. The best beaches on the east side are Donkey Beach, Kapaa Beach, and Wailua Beach.