Kauai is the oldest out of all the Hawaiian Islands having been formed some 3.4 million years ago. However it only became known after British explorer Captain James Cook landed in Waimea Bay in 1778 (a statue of him can still be found in Waimea Town today). During this era King Kamehameha I was trying to take rule over all of the islands, eventually resulting in the Kingdom of Hawaii.
Kauai’s rich history has shaped the island we know and love today. A mix of celebrated traditions and growing new trends, there is plenty to learn about where it all began. What better way than to visit one of Kauai’s museums? Here is a list of some of the island’s most popular historical centers.
OLD KOLOA TOWN HISTORY CENTER
As Hawaii’s first successful sugar mill in 1835, Koloa is where it really all began. Pass through the Tree Tunnel, an iconic stretch of Maluhia Road lined with eucalyptus trees, and you will find this sleepy town. Setting the precedent for sugar cane production, Koloa Town was a large part of Kauai’s economic growth. Visit the History Center and discover Koloa’s past through photographs and preserved artifacts that tell the story of life in the Plantation Era. Across the road you can find further monuments dedicated to days gone past.
Located in the heart of Old Koloa Town this center is open to the public 24/7. Be sure to stop by the assortment of surrounding gift shops, restaurants and shave ice! In July, the Old Plantation Days festivities take place here offering fun games, entertainment and delicious food.
HOURS: Open to public 24/7
For more information visit OldKoloa.com
GROVE FARM HOMESTEAD & SUGAR PLANTATION MUSEUM
“We invite you and your students to take part in the educational opportunities that abound at Grove Farm museum. Available for school tours and other educational groups are the historic grounds, buildings, and the collections contained within, as well as a historic photo collection, oral histories of former plantation workers, ledgers of plantation workers and their pay scales, a collection of Hawaiian artifacts, and much more. Also, a ride on a restored sugar train along an authentic locomotive right-of-way can be arranged.” – Grove Farm
HOURS: Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday, 10:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m.
For more information visit GroveFarm.org
This Greco-Roman style building houses fascinating exhibits, artifacts and murals portraying the history of Kauai, its people and its unique culture. Take a step back in time as you walk the historical galleries and discover the authentic Hawaiian activities that influenced modern day Kauai.
Monday – Saturday 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Closed on Sundays
For more information visit KauaiMuseum.org
KOKEE NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM
Tucked away up in the dewy mountains of Kauai is the Kokee Natural History Museum. Celebrating the natural beauty surrounding it, this museum shares information not only regarding Kauai’s cultural past, but the region’s flora and fauna, weather patterns, and what we can do to protect this incredible place. Here you will find maps, interactive exhibits and glass displays filled with different birds, insects and animals native to the area. They also have a gift store offering books, CDs and DVDs. The Koke’e Lodge and restaurant are directly across the road. For more information regarding camping Koke’e take a look at Guide To Camping Kokee.
Monday – Friday 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
For more information visit Kokee.org
KAUAI HISTORICAL SOCIETY
Established in 1914 to preserve Kauai’s sacred places, the Society also helped found the Koke’e Natural History Museum and the Kauai Museum. Here, their mission is to collect, preserve, and disseminate the oral, written and pictorial history of Kaua‘i County. In addition to protecting and preserving historic sites as well as to educate the public about the history and cultures of Kaua‘i.
For information about how to make an appointment and special events please visit KauaiHistoricalSociety.org.
Visitors and residents alike should take full advantage of these amazing institutions. The friendly and knowledgeable staff keep the history of Kauai alive for future generations to come and that in itself, is the very essence the Aloha Spirit!