Despite its urbanization, Lihue, Kauai’s capital city, has kept its island charm. There is an abundance of ways to enjoy the outdoors and get active in this city, as this tropical landscape is teeming with natural recreational spaces, such as the Wailua Falls and the Kalapaki Beach.
A Brief History of Lihue, HI
The area that is now known as Lihue in Kauai was originally established as a result of the growing sugarcane industry in Kauai. This led to the development of the Lihue Sugar Plantation by German colonists in 1849. While the industry eventually declined after several decades, because the costs were much higher compared to sugarcane sources abroad, many of the abandoned sugar mills are still maintained for tourists to visit and to have a glimpse of Kauai’s history.
Another very interesting element of Lihue’s past pertains to ancient Hawaiian chiefs. According to historical records, Hawaiian chiefs would prove their courage by diving over the cliff at Wailua Falls, which is approximately 85 feet high, dropping into a pool that is over 30 feet deep.
Art and Culture in Lihue, HI
If you’re visiting Lihue for the first time, make sure your itinerary includes a trip to these amazing museums.
Located in a lava rock structure in Lihue, the Kauai Museum showcases remarkable collections from the artisans of Kauai and Niihau. Aside from learning about the geological formation of the Hawaiian Islands, early Native Hawaiian life, Captain Cook’s arrival on Kauai’s shores in Waimea and the Hawaiian Monarchy, you can view galleries featuring works of multi-cultural artists, sculptors, and craftsmen.
Grove Farm Homestead Museum
A visit to the Grove Farm Homestead will give you a fascinating glimpse into the island’s past. Hawaii’s booming sugar plantation industry in the late 1800s had originated in Kauai, and Grove Farm, founded in 1864, was one of the earliest sugar plantations. It was also the home of George N. Wilcox and his descendants. Today, this 100-acre, historic site showcases life during Kauai’s plantation era, with a tour of the whole property, including the old Wilcox residence and the cottage of the plantation housekeeper situated amidst tropical gardens, orchards, and rolling lawns.
Enjoy Nature in Lihue, HI
Explore the wonderful outdoors and marvel at the beauty that surrounds Lihue’s tropical landscape.
Menehune Fishpond / Alekoko
The Menehune Fishpond, just a few minutes from Lihue, is one of the finest examples of ancient Hawaiian aquaculture. According to legend, the pond was built overnight by a small race of people known as Menehune more than a thousand years ago. The ponds created a dam across a portion of the Huleia River, which was used to trap fish to feed the ali’i ( Hawaiian royalty). Kayak tours are available on the Huleia River, a fun way to explore this scenic area.
Kalapaki Beach is just a 10-minute drive from Lihue, and is a nice place to just relax, bathe in the sun, swim, or simply watch the outrigger canoes and visiting cruise ships come and go out of Nawiliwili Harbor. There are lots of other activities you can enjoy here, too, such as surfing, boogie boarding, and stand up paddle boarding. . This white sandy beach is also ideal for families with kids, as the beach does not often experience dangerous waves. There are a variety of accommodations, surfboard rentals, stand up boards, and beach catamarans rental shacks located on and near Kalapaki Beach. Surfboard lessons take place year-round.
Located at the south end of the Wailua River, Wailua Falls can be seen from the roadside and is easily accessible. To get there, head north from Lihue and follow Maalo Road in Hanamaulu then travel uphill for about 3 miles. Commonly known as Kauai’s Twin Falls, the Wailua Falls cascades into two streams, dropping 80 feet below. Best time to visit would be in the morning, when you may be treated to an amazing view of a rainbow as the sunlight meets the mist of the falls.
The Food Scene in Lihue, HI
While there are so many great food venues all over Kauai, it is in Lihue where you can find delightful formal eateries. Here are some of the wonderful restaurants in the area.
Nestled inside the Kauai Beach Resort, Naupaka Terrace offers delectable local cuisine in a plantation-style setting with a breathtaking Hawaiian scenery. The menu features Hawaiian and Pan Pacific cuisine, Asian-inspired dishes, fresh island catch, aged beef, salads, and pasta. Sit on the terrace and enjoy a wonderful view of waterfalls, fish ponds, and native foliage as you dine.
Located at the Marriott in Lihue, Cafe Portofino offers guests a relaxed, poolside setting with a wonderful view of the Kalapaki Bay and the Kauai landscape and live music as they enjoy a delightful meal prepared by the Italian chef and owner of the restaurant. The menu features a wide range of northern Italian dishes, seafood, and steaks, along with an amazing wine selection.
Duke’s Canoe Club
Duke’s Canoe Club, named after Hawaii’s renowned swimmer, surfer, and Olympic athlete, Duke Kahanamoku, is a casual restaurant that offers patrons a bit of island culture. Inside, there is an indoor waterfall and live Hawaiian music that entertains guests as they enjoy classic Hawaiian food and drinks. Lunchtime menu includes burgers, pizza, sandwiches, and quesadillas; while dinner offers steaks and an abundance of just-caught fish, prepared to your specifications.
The Fish Express
The Fish Express is a local food joint that offers a variety of island-style and Asian-fusion dishes, featuring fresh seafood from the surrounding coasts. Must-try fresh fish specials include Katsu with Wasabi Cream, Fresh Fish Tacos, and Macadamia Nut Crusted with Lilikoi.
Koloa Rum Company
Taste the flavor of Hawaii at the Koloa Rum Company. The distillery offers daily scheduled tastings of its award-winning rums every half-hour. Spirits are made from Hawaiian sugarcane, distilled twice in a copper pot still for an irresistibly smooth flavor.
Lihue, HI is an amazingly wonderful place to visit and even to settle in. If you are considering living in the area, let us know! We will be more than happy to show you your best options. Give us a call at (808) 634-8765 or send us an email at [email protected] to schedule a consultation.