Soaking in the Beauty of Fern Grotto

By Coco Zickos

Fern Grotto is an environmental wonderment on the east side of Kauaʻi that draws crowds every year. The naturally-formed lava cave is dripping in ferns and enveloped by lush plant life, creating a gorgeous vista. Though the Wailua River State Park vegetation hasn’t grown back to its full glory prior to Hurricane ‘Iniki ravaging the island in 1992, it still remains a beautiful site to behold.

Take a Boat Upstream to Fern Grotto

Photo:  Tandy Penn.

Photo: Tandy Penn.

The only way to gain access to this popular location is by boat via the Wailua River. The river flows from one of the wettest spots on earth, Mount Wai‘ale‘ale, which helps keep this part of the island naturally ornate with flora. This also means you may encounter a passing shower along the way, especially during Kaua‘i’s rainy season from about November to March. Don’t let that stop you! This region of the island is beautiful and home to historic locations that were once revered by ancient people and served as the birthplace for Hawaiian ali‘i (royalty).

You can rent a kayak and journey the waterway on your own. However, what many tout as being so special and memorable about this trip is the relaxing and serene family-friendly tours offered by Smith’s Kaua‘i. Guests meet at the Wailua Marina State Park before embarking on an open-air vessel that takes them on a two-mile trek along the water – all while surrounded by lush greenery and gracing the edge of spectacular mountains like Nounou (Sleeping Giant). The approximate 90-minute, gentle excursion, which has four departure times each day, offers the added bonus of Hawaiian entertainment and storytelling.

The Icing on the Cake

The only walking required on this tour is about 5-minutes long when you take an easy path that leads you to an up-close-and-personal view of the grotto. Once you’re here, you’ll understand why this is praised as such a romantic setting and continues to be a popular spot for weddings. Musicians strumming their ukuleles will serenade you while you soak in the view, and hula dancers will sway their hips and tell you a story with their hands — the icing on this Hawaiian tour’s cake.

Soaking in the Beauty of Fern Grotto

This is the perfect activity for anyone seeking tranquility or a break from mountain expeditions and beach-combing. Fern Grotto is an ideal way to soak in Kaua‘i’s natural abundance.

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