Visiting the Makauwahi (Hawaiian for “Smoke Eye”) Sinkhole is a fun outdoor activity for all walks of life. Located down the road from the Grand Hyatt Resort & Spa in the Mahaulepu Valley, visitors can hike down a moderate trail to find this special place. The sinkhole itself is a small portion of the largest limestone cave found in all of Hawaii. At around 10,000 years old, archeologists have discovered at least 45 different species of bird life here! These findings show how the first human inhabitants of Kauai affected the island’s natural environment and it is one of the only sites on earth where such research can be found. Pretty cool.
Historically, the cave was used as a grave site by ancient Hawaiians. If you decide to partake in a quick tour you will hear firsthand what kinds of ancient rituals took place here. In the back of the cave there is sand as smooth as silk, from thousands of years ago. The tour guide will share fossils found on site as well as up close views of stalagmites. It’s almost a step back in time!
The rich fossil-bearing sediments of the Makauwahi Cave have preserved almost everything that has fallen in there including as animal fossils (shells, bones) and various plant fossils (seeds, wood). Even microscopic fossils have been found here like pollen, algae and DNA fragments! It’s a great look into how Kauai might have been before we stepped foot here.
Free tours are led every Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 10am – 2pm. Donations are welcomed. For more information visit CaveReserve.org or for Kukuiula members and guests reach out for a custom tour and beach day with our team at Island Pursuits!