Kaua`i's best historic sites range from settlement to the post-contact period and are found island wide

Since Hawaiian first traversed the Pacific generations ago and settled on Kaua`i, the Garden Island has woven a deep history that is still relevant to life on Kaua`i today. Hawaiians continued living on Kaua`i undisturbed for a very long time, using heiaus as sacred temples and utilizing the land for growing food and catching fish in the ocean. When first contact was made by Captain James Cook in historic Waimea Town, it set off a series of events that would forever change all of the islands.

Koloa Town would become the first sugar plantation town in the state, a trend that would spread to each island. Today, home to the first sugar plantation is one of Kaua`i's claim to fame and can still be experienced on the south side. Nearby on the east side in Lihue, Kilohana Plantation offers a window into the past, as the former mansion belonging to a sugar lord serves as home to unique boutiques and other shops. Much of the original decor and furniture can still be found in the house. For a more traditional Hawaiian attraction, stop by the Menehune Fishpond in Lihue. This holds a history rich in legend and myth that say a group of little people called menehune built the pond in one night for a prince and princess.

For historic attractions island wide, 10 Best is pointing you in the best direction to experience an array of different elements of Kaua`i's past. So grab the camera and hit the road to find the best of Kaua`i's history.

Nawiliwili Harbor
Menehune Fishpond

Legend has it that an industrious race of small-statured peoples once inhabited the islands, predecessors to the Polynesians who now populate the archipelago. Known as the menehune, they were master craftsmen who could build with great skill and...  Read More

Koke'e State Park
Photo courtesy of jade eckardt

Just north of Waimea Canyon, inland from the Na Pali Coast, lies this rugged state park, spread across 4345 mountainous acres. Especially popular with nature lovers, the park offers terrific scenery and plenty of outdoor activities, from hiking...  Read More

Grove Farm Homestead

This sugar-cane estate, established in 1864, was one of the island's first and has been preserved for the future by original owner George Wilcox's descendants. The lush grounds host several buildings, including the main house, workers' homes,...  Read More

Kilohana Plantation
Photo courtesy of Jade Eckardt

In its heyday, this grand, 1930s-era mansion was the focal point of a successful sugar-cane plantation. Today, the Tudor-style, 16000-square-foot home has been restored to its original glory and houses galleries, boutiques, and the historic...  Read More

Preserved in this museum's collections are the story of Kauai, detailed in artifacts, exhibits, and photographs. Two buildings showcase items from the era preceding Western contact as well as the plantation period. There's also a focus on the...  Read More


Koloa has the honor of being Kauai's first town devoted to sugarcane, and its history, which dates from the 1830s, is still evident today. The charming settlement, located in southern Kauai, boasts a wealth of fascinating shops and restaurants,...  Read More

Kilauea Lighthouse
Photo courtesy of Jade Eckardt

Perched on a point high above the sea, this quaint lighthouse (built in 1913) once had the capacity to send a shaft of light 90 miles into the night. These days, its original "clamshell" lens has been replaced by a smaller, less powerful light...  Read More

Kamokila Hawaiian Village

On the very site of an ancient Hawaiian village, this modern-day equivalent has been erected to teach visitors about the islands before Western contact. The compound, lying along the Wailua River, showcases (replicated) homes and community...  Read More

Waioli Mission House Museum

Although you'll have to plan ahead to visit this intriguing museum, you should definitely make a point to fit it in to your itinerary. Constructed in 1837 as a home for Christian missionaries, the structure eventually served as the center of a...  Read More

Ka Ulu a Paoa Heiau
Photo courtesy of virtual tourist

In Hawaii's storied past, before language was codified, the most promising, gifted hula dancers gathered at this venerated place at the edge of the sea to refine their art and showcase their skills. The temple's stoneworks were their training...  Read More


Meet Jade Eckardt

Raised on the Big Island of Hawaii, Jade has traveled the world and doesn't intend to stop, yet the Hawaiian Islands are still her favorite place. She spent seven years living on Oahu and...  More About Jade

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