Lihue: More than Meets the Eye

By Coco Zickos

Right at dawn I had come down to the pier at the entrance to Nawiliwili harbor and was able to capture these fantastic skies. Kalapaki/ Nawiliwili in Lihue, Kauai. Photo: member Christopher H.

Līhu‘e serves as the transportation, industrial and public sector hub of Kaua‘i. As such, it might not seem like there’s anything to see here. But there are many reasons to visit this charming historical town besides simply catching your flight.

Lihue, Revitalized

Ha Coffee. Photo: Matthew Wicks.

Located along the eastern shore of the Garden Isle, the community was founded almost 200 years ago. What started as dirt roads became paved as sugar cane fields began dominating Līhu‘e’s landscape in the 1900s. Most of the town’s residents and businesses set up shop on Rice Street — the same road that is currently undergoing a revitalization. Businesses like Kaua‘i Beer Company, where you can grab a locally crafted pint, and Ha Coffee, where you’ll have no problem getting a great-tasting caffeine fix, are updating the area.

Lihue, a Repository for Kauai’s Past

Kauai Museum, Lihue, Kauai. Photo: Ansen Chappel.

Besides new business ventures, Līhu‘e is also a repository for Kaua‘i’s past. It’s where Grove Farm museum is located, a former plantation that feels like its inhabitants left only yesterday. Kaua‘i Museum, on Rice Street, houses ancient Hawaiian relics and shares stories of pre- and post-contact Hawai‘i, including tales about the island’s last reigning king, Kaumuali‘i.

Things to Do in Lihue

Kipu Ranch, Lihue, Kauai. Photo: member Cindy S.

Another favorite among visitors is Kilohana Plantation Estate where you can enjoy lunch at Gaylord’s on gorgeous manicured grounds, take a train ride with keiki to visit farm animals, try some locally made chocolate at Kaua‘i Sweet Shoppe or taste spirits at Koloa Rum Company. This is also the site of one of the largest and most entertaining lū‘au on the island.

And if you didn’t already notice during your flight’s descent, Līhu‘e is home to one of the most beautiful mountain ranges on the island, Hā‘upu. Gain access to these mountains by booking a tour with Kīpū Ranch Adventures where ATVs allow you to explore several acres of private land and journey to an overlook that lets you see a secluded beach, Kīpū Kai.

Impressive Features and Attractions in Lihue

Built this with a friend who is a master sandcastle builder. Little known fact: Hawaii has some of the best sand in the world for making sand castles. Kalapaki Bay Beach, Lihue, Kauai, Hawaii. Photo: member Mia C.

Other impressive natural features Līhu‘e is privy to are the Hulē‘ia River and Menehune fish pond, as well as Wailua Falls, which is one of Kaua‘i’s most easily accessible waterfalls. Also, Kalapakī Beach has a picturesque setting that’s ideal for beginners learning to surf or paddleboard because of the bay’s gentle nature. And what’s not to love about sipping cocktails and sunset viewing, a mission easily accomplished at one of the many restaurants scattered along this shoreline?

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