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Along with Princeville, the Poipu sector is one of the most popular holiday resorts on Kauai Island. The people who go here on holiday are not mistaken. It is one of the island's quietest and sunniest places, and Lihue, the island's "capital" with its shops, is fairly close by about twenty minutes by car.
Around the seaside resort of Poipu you will find a fairly large number of smaller or larger resorts. There's something for everyone! The typical profile of the traveller who comes to Poipu to relax is the one who comes with his family, often with young children, and who wishes to initiate himself and/or his family to the joys of idleness and snorkeling. But it can also be a good base camp to visit the south of the island.
Snorkeling around Poipu
Poipu Beach Park
The beach of Poipu Beach Park with its median sandbank is a wonderful place to start snorkeling as the bottoms are clear, shallow and fish are present. Be careful though, because near this famous median sandbank, the current can be powerful.
If you are attracted by aquatic life, you may also have the chance to observe one or more turtles (we were able to swim a few meters with a turtle when we first came here!), as well as monk seals that often come to sunbathe there.
Note that in case of the presence of turtles or seals on the beach, it is necessary to observe a certain distance, if their resting area is not already marked, in order not to disturb them. This is valid throughout the archipelago.
As for the snorkeling conditions in Poipu Beach Park, you can read more about them in this article dedicated to the best spots in Hawaii.
Located 3 kilometers west of Poipu Beach Park, along Lawai Road, Lawa'i's small beach is located on the edge of the road and offers a famous place for snorkeling, however reserved for beginners.
Here, the coral reef does not protect the beach, which exposes it to waves and ocean currents, but fish are much more numerous than in Poipu Beach Park.
To learn more about Lawa' i Beach, read our article dedicated to snorkeling.
here are many other beaches in the area, such as Baby Beach, which can be accessed from Hoona Road (a staircase is available to reach the 5152 Hoona Road) or Kukui'ula Harbor Beach in the heart of a small bay.
Walking along the coast
Maha'ulepu Heritage Trail
6 km round trip - 1h30 to 2h00 - Easy
For the walkers, a big walk, or a very pleasant little hike awaits you in the surroundings of Poipu. The Maha'ulepu Heritage Trail starts at Shipwreck's Beach and takes you along the steep, colourful coastline to Gillin's Beach. Allow 2 hours to make the round trip.
Park in the small parking lot at Shipwreck's Beach. Be careful, this one does not have a great capacity, better to come early. Otherwise, a second ground parking lot is located a little further upstream.
Once you arrive on the pretty beach where surfers often come to surf the waves, walk along it eastward (or to the left) until you reach the end. A footpath leads up the small promontory from the end of the beach and allows you to reach a little altitude to have a beautiful panorama and the first beautiful views of the coast.
From this point follow the path that runs along the ocean, crossing some sand zones at the beginning of the itinerary which can be a little difficult to walk, especially in high temperatures. But this passage is not very long and quickly leads to new nice views.
After a few hundred meters, the colour of the earth becomes ochre and you can see in the distance the Poipu Bay Golf Course whose green of an impeccable green offers a new shade in this postcard decor. You will also notice on the side of the path the traces of an ancient "heiau", a stone temple built by the first inhabitants of the island.
The trail now reaches the golf course, which will have to be walked several hundred metres along its millimeter-cut lawns. After the golf course, the path passes through the heart of a denser vegetation, composed of large bushes. Unfortunately, it was here that we turned around and thought we had reached the goal, but we were wrong!
In 2017, despite our preparation, we had not noticed the presence of several curiosities at the end of this trail: Makauwahi Cave, a cave that can be discovered free of charge, Gillin's Beach, a secluded beach (which we mistakenly thought to have missed and which nevertheless marks the end of this trail), and finally Kawailoa Bay, a bay with strong potential for snorkeling but reserved for confirmed swimmers. One more reason to come back and explore all this!
So if you continue the trail for another 500 meters from the small cape after the dense vegetation, you should reach the famous Gillin's Beach.
It should also be noted that Gillin's Beach is accessible directly by vehicle via a rather bumpy dirt road, so it is best to drive a 4x4.
Watching the ocean vaporize at Spouting Horn Park
The Spouting Horn
At the end of the asphalt road of Lawai Road, west of Poipu, is the Spouting Horn Park which hosts, the Spouting Horn! It is a kind of geyser formed as a result of a cavity in the basaltic soil, which expels seawater at the rhythm of the waves that rush into it. On days when the ocean is rough, the water jet can rise up to 15 meters.
A local legend is associated with this phenomenon: a giant lizard ("mo'o" in Hawaiian) once protected this part of the island. One day, a young man named Liko defied the lizard that threatened the locals who came to fish or swim. During their fight, Liko pushed a sharp stick into the lizard's mouth. Liko then jumped into the ocean, drawing the lizard into the water to a small tube of lava in the rocks leading to the surface. The lizard that was following Liko became trapped in the lava tube. Today, you can hear the roar of the lizard every time the geyser burst into the air."
Access to the blow hole is free and you will find a shop and sanitary facilities on site.
It should also be noted that there are 2 botanical gardens located near the Spouting Horn Park. Not having visited them (there are several on each island), we won't be able to tell you more, but know that they are there ;)
Playing golf near Poipu
Are you a golf enthusiast? Perfect! The Poipu area is home to three golf courses: the Kukui' ula Golf Course to the west, the Kiahuna Golf Club to the north, and the Poipu Bay Golf Course to the east. The latter is internationally known, being part of the PGA Tour. So if you like to putter in the middle of paradisiacal landscapes made up of green mountains, coconut palms, and the Pacific Ocean, then you will enjoy yourself in Poipu!
Strolling through the lively streets of Old Koloa Town
Old Koloa Town
North of Poipu is the small town of Old Koloa Town. With no real point of interest, the city is still pleasant to cross with its superb Banyan Trees and small shops. Perhaps you will find the ideal gift to bring back to your loved ones in one of them?
Going down the road to Poipu, if you are fond of raw fish, don't miss a quick stop at Makai Sushi, located inside the small supermarket at 2827 Poipu Road. It is a small counter with a few stools. You can taste "ahi poke bowls" made of raw tuna marinated on a bed of rice and vegetables. A taste sensation at a reasonable price.
Eucalyptus tree tunnel
Finally, when you arrive to Old Koloa Town from Lihue, or when you leave the small town, you will probably take Maluhia Road. Don't forget to stop or just admire the magnificent century-old Eucalyptus trees that adorn the two sides of the road at the junction with the Kaumualii Highway for a few tens of meters. They are so old that their branches touch each other above the road, forming a small tunnel.
The area near the Kaumualii Highway is the most impressive as the Eucalyptus trees are interspersed with lianas and tropical vegetation.
This concludes this article around Poipu which is a very pleasant area to discover, where it's nice to relax and stop after a day at Waimea Canyon or Kokee State Park, or simply to spend a few nights in the south of the island.