Koloa Heritage Trail
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What: 10-mile tour of important sites in Koloa and Poipu
Where: South Shore of Kauai through Koloa and Poipu
Ka Ala Hele Waiwai Hooilina o Koloa, or the Koloa Heritage Trail, is a 14-stop, self-guided 10-mile tour of the Koloa and Poipu area’s most important cultural, historical and geological sites, with descriptive plaques that explain each spot’s significance.
Koloa is a historic South Shore area, home to Hawaii’s first commercial sugar plantation. In the mid 1800’s, sugar replaced the whaling industry to become the principal industry of Hawaii. As a result of the sugar boom, approximately 350,000 immigrants from around the world came to Hawaii to work in the sugar plantations. Although tourism supplanted sugar as Hawaii’s major industry (Kauai’s last sugar mill closed in 2008), the legacy of the era lives on in the unique ethnic diversity of Hawaii’s people today.
Beyond the shower tree in the center of Old Koloa Town you’ll discover the Sugar Monument, just one of the stops on the Koloa Heritage Trail. This circular concrete sculpture suggesting a millstone holds a bronze sculpture depicting the eight principal ethnic groups that brought the sugar industry to life (Hawaiian, Caucasian, Puerto Rican, Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Portuguese and Filipino). The sculpture opens up to face the remnants of the Koloa sugar mill’s stone chimney, built in 1841.
Koloa Heritage Trail Locations
Encompassing the south shore of Kauai, look for these special spots on your next visit:
1. Spouting Horn Park - Famous south shore blowhole.
2. Prince Kuhio Birthplace & Park - Prince Kuhio, known as the “People’s Prince,” was born here in 1871.
3. Hanakaape Bay & Koloa Landing - Formerly the third largest whaling port in Hawaii.
4. Pau A Laka (Moir Gardens) - Botanical garden founded in the 1930s.
5. Kihahouna Heiau - Site of an ancient Hawaiian temple.
6. Poipu Beach Park - Popular beach home to endangered monk seals.
7. Keoneloa Bay - Home to some of Kauai’s oldest occupied sites (200-600 A.D.).
8. Makaweha & Paa Dunes - A fossil bed that has become a popular spot for bird watching
9. Puuwanawana Volcanic Cone - A younger volcanic cone in a formation dating back more than 5 million years.
10. Hapa Road - Hawaiians have lived in this area since 1200 A.D.
11. Koloa Jodo Mission - Buddhist temple built in 1910.
12. Sugar Monument - Commemorates the site of Hawaii’s first sugar mill.
13. Yamamoto Store & Koloa Hotel - Former plantation-era mainstay from the 1920s. Note that these two businesses are now the present day Crazy Shirts and the South Shore Pharmacy respectively.
14. Koloa Missionary Church - The first Congregational church in Kauai.