If you’ve been in the market for a luxury home, condo, or property for sale in Kauai, you will be buying into a community rich with natural, cultural, recreational, and entertainment activities. For the residents and guest of Kukuiʻula, being here is like living in a hidden oasis on Kauai’s South Shore.
We recently surveyed the residents and staff at Kukuiʻula for their top things to do, see, and places to eat that make the South Shore one of the best neighborhoods to live in on Kauai. From Poipu, to Old Koloa Town, to the National Botanical Gardens and the outer reaches of Mahaulepu Trail, to the best restaurants, beaches, and shopping in Kauai, there’s a host of things to see and do this summer season. Making it one of the best times of the year to visit Kauai.
There’s no shortage of family activities on Kauai. Even better, you’ll find a ton of fun things to do just a short hop from wherever you’re staying on the South Shore. Here’s three “To Do” things that showed up on everyone’s list.
Blessed with near-perfect weather, the Poipu area offers some of Kauai’s top-rated beaches. When it comes to family activities, warm water, a natural wading pool for young swimmers, and sugar white sand beaches, Poipu Beach Park is the sure pick.
This South Shore gem has earned cleanest water accolades for years and occupied the top pick as “Best Beach in America” by Dr. Beach. There’s a popular bodyboarding and surfing spot for older kids and adults, plus a beautiful reef for snorkeling. Amenities include parking, daily lifeguard service, restrooms, showers, and picnic tables. You’ll have your share of wildlife spotting in Poipu with a cavalcade of reef fish, green sea turtles, spinner dolphins, and if you’re lucky, the protected Hawaiian monk seal. From December through April, you’ll enjoy breaching humpback whales just offshore. And this is just one on a long list of best beaches in Kauai you’ll find in Poipu.
If you’ve dreamed of riding the foaming crest of a warm Hawaiian wave, under a tropical blue sky dotted by a fleet of fluffy white clouds, dream no more. For members and guest of Kukuiʻula, you can schedule personal surf lessons for kids and adults through our Huakai Outfitters. Your classroom will be among the top-rated surfing spots in Poipu. Our crew of expert guides are among the best of local watermen and women, with the patience and skills to help folks at all levels. Nothing brings us greater joy than seeing someone catch their very first wave.
If you’re looking for hiking trails on Kauai near Poipu, the Mahaulepu Hertiage Trail provides access to the last stretch of accessible undeveloped coastline on the South Shore. Beginning at the southeast corner of Shipwreck Beach on Keonela Bay, this coastal trail takes you along dramatic lava formations, dunes, tide pools, steep cliffs and rocky inlets sculpted by the constant crash of ocean blue waves and cascades of effervescent spray. The trail transits important and sensitive cultural heritage sites, including a Heiau and petroglyphs that require the utmost of respect. Unobstructed views offer prime whale watching in the winter, and protected coves are a favorite hangout for endangered monk seals. You’ll reach the trails turnaround point at Mahaulepu Beach.
With no lifeguards on duty, exercise extreme caution. The surf can be very strong here, so only go in the water on calm days. For those who desire a little extra, take the short detour to the largest limestone cave in Hawaii. Makuwahi Cave Reserve, rich in fossil deposits, is an important archaeologically site for native Hawaiians. Mahaulepu Hertiage Trail is considered a moderate, kid-friendly hike that’s most enjoyable in the morning. The 3.8 mile out and back trip takes an average of 1 hour 30 minutes. Always play it safe! With a rocky path, it’s best to wear shoes. The trail offers little shade, so don’t forget a hat, sunscreen, and plenty of water. Let someone know when you’re going and expected back. And, most of all, enjoy.
Hele wāwae — hike
Blessed with incredible natural beauty, it’s easy to understand why Kauai is called the “Garden Island.” The area surrounding Kukuiʻula includes scenic vistas, lush tropical gardens, inspiring hiking trails and world-famous beaches.
Here’s three “Things to See” that topped so many list.
One of the most romantic activities in Poipu for couples, is catching a sunset at Kukuiʻula Harbor. From The Club at Kukuiʻula, it’s a relaxing walk across the Great Lawn, past Hale Huakai, to Kukuiʻula Harbor. It’s a popular place for locals and visitors to meet up with friends, get in an end of day swim, enjoy yoga or a meditative moment. You can spread out a towel on the grass or walk along the shore and feel the mix of warm ocean air and tropical scents carried on the trade winds. Take a deep breath and settle in for the show. It’s different every day, and every day is spectacular in its own way. It’s one of the great joys of living on Kauai. To have the place and time to hit pause and take stock of what truly brings you joy.
Napoʻo ʻana o ka lā — sunset
If your quest is scenic spots for photography in Poipu, Spouting Horn will be on your list.
Located off Lawai Road, this iconic natural wonder is wrapped in a deep and rich legend of a guardian spirit, challenges, and narrow escapes. In the end the central character Liko dives into the water and escapes through a hole in the lava shelf from Kaikapu, a guardian moo (lizard). The groaning from the blowhole is the cry of pain from Kaikapu, who’s still stuck in the hole she could not fit through in the chase. Reaching nearly 50 feet in height, the blowhole’s plume changes color and intensity through the day. Some of our favorite moments are during the golden hours from the parks viewing area, and the grand foyer of The Club at Kukuiʻula.
Safety is the mantra here. Respect all barriers and signs. Do not venture out on the lava shelf and get close to the blowhole — serious fatalities and injuries have resulted from such acts.
Puhi — blowhole
It only seems natural that the Garden Island would be home to one of the world’s most magnificent gardens. The National Tropical Botanical Garden is actually two gardens in one: the 252-acre McBryde Gardens, and the 100-acre Allerton Gardens that were transformed over time by a Hawaiian Queen. Combined, these gardens offer the world’s largest assemblage of native Hawaiian plant species. You might recognize the famous Moreton Bay fig trees from the movie “Jurassic Park.” National Geographic Traveler named the garden one of the 50 places to see in a lifetime. Located at the end of Lawai Road, the park entrance is across the street from Spouting Horn. A park tram takes you into this idyllic ocean front valley, with a menu of guided, and self-guided tours to choose from. During summer months, it’s wise to book tours in advance.
Puanani — beautiful flower
If you’re looking at luxury homes for sale in Kauai, you’ll soon discover that food is a big part of the island experience. From counter served plate lunches, to fresh seafood, locally sourced delights, and the best of current Hawaiian cuisine, here’s some of our favorite spots for “local grindz” while you’re out and about.
E ʻai kākou — lets eat
When it comes to breakfast, Loco Moco from Sueoka Snack Shop is a top pick for local workers. This classic local style dish is made of rice topped with a hamburger patty, brown gravy, and a fried egg. The Snack Shop sits outside of Sueoka’s Market, in the heart of Koloa Town. Established in 1918 as a camp store for plantation field laborers, this family-run market has been in the same location since 1933. The menu includes plate lunches, burgers, bowls, saimin, snacks, and sides. Plus, you’ll find the prices to be a bargain by local standards. Sueoka’s Snack Shop opens every day at 8:30 am, and closes at 2 pm on weekdays, and 3 pm on weekends. For early morning or last-minute needs, the market is open daily, 6 am – 8 pm.
Ai māmā — snack
On the hunt for a great Hawaiian plate lunch or poke? This family-owned local institution is a top pick. Enjoy a bite of paradise with a wide range of local fresh fish, to-go plates, bento lunches, and a host of poke combinations that’ll have your head spinning. The fresh fish selection is truly fresh off the boat, and changes from day to day. Located on the main road through Old Koloa Town, Koloa Fish Market is open Monday-Wednesday, and Friday-Saturday, from 10 am to 3 pm. Closed Thursday and Sunday. Word to the wise, beat the lines and show up before the lunch rush. The staff is great about moving folks along, so you’re wait may be shorter than expected.
Poke – to slice, as fish
For the uninitiated, this locally owned small business has taken shave ice to the next level. The fresh and natural ingredients have many shave ice aficionados calling this the best in Kauai. Long time patrons are dedicated to servings topped with coconut cream, local honey, and fresh fruit. One Yelp reviewer wrote, “the coconut cup was pure genius.” Waikomo Shave Ice is located at 2827 Poipu Rd., just north of the Poipu roundabout, and adjacent to the Kukuiʻula Local Market. Open every day, except Friday, from Noon – 5 pm.
Go ahead, ask. What is a Puka Dog?
Well, this local delectable is an entirely Hawaiian-style hot dog. It begins with a 100% natural freshly baked Hawaiian sweet bread bun called a “Puka” for the hole that’s baked in from one side. From there, you have a choice of a grilled polish sausage or veggie dog, then the creativity begins. Garnish as you wish from a list that includes garlic lemon secret sauce that comes in a variety of heats, Aunty Lilikoi’s Hawaiian mustard, and a fruit relish made of either mango, pineapple, papaya, coconut, banana, or star fruit. Then chase the dog with an ice cold fresh squeezed lemonade. Located across the street from Poipu Beach Park, inside Brennecke’s Deli, Puka Dog is the perfect “grab a bite” at the beach spot. Open daily from 10 am – 7:30 pm.
Ono – delicious, good
We would be remised if we didn’t include one of our favorite spots to enjoy one of our all-time favorite dishes right here at Kukuiʻula. Upon arrival, many guest are known to walk straight down to the Makai Grill + Bar and order our own Chef Ben’s Ahi Poke Bowl. A generous serving of the freshest fish on your choice of white rice, brown rice, or grains, and garnished with the perfect mix of sweet onion, sesame, teriyaki sauce, and sriracha. This is serious local “broke da mouth grindz,” Chef Ben style. Order your favorite libation, from Koloa Rum to a host of microbrew beers and wines, and you have the perfect “welcome home” combo. Now that’s an island style hello.
E komo mai — welcome
We hope this short list provides some local insight on things to do, see, and places to eat on Kauai. It a beautiful and precious island we absolutely love and hope you will enjoy to the fullest. It’s this list and so much more that makes us so happy and honored to call Kauai home.
If you have any questions about the local real estate market, we’re here to provide insight on luxury homes, luxury estate lots, beachfront properties, ocean view homes, and current real estate market trends in Kauai. You can learn more about all that Kukuiʻula has to offer here, kukuiula.com
Please note: Hawaii’s ocean and beach conditions are as unique as the islands themselves. Visit hisceansafety.com which constantly monitors the surf, wind, and reports from public safety officials that directly affect the conditions for safety of Hawaiian beaches. Use the hazard sign on hisceansafety.com as well to quickly assess conditions and help you find the appropriate beach for your visit. Be pono, respectful. When visiting places of cultural significance in Hawaii we ask for permission first so we never have to ask for forgiveness later. Not sure? Look for a Kupuna, elder, and ask. They’re happy to answer questions, give directions, and help you stay pono.
Kukuiʻula recognizes the proper spelling of the Hawaiian language including the ‘okina and the kahakō. However, these have been omitted from this site for the optimal online experience and search engine accessibility. We recognize the cultural importance of the language and we continue to use the correct spelling, including ‘okinas and kahakō, everywhere outside of this online platform
Kukui‘ula embodies Ho‘okipa—heartfelt Hawaiian hospitality. We invite you to join us by staying connected. And don’t worry! We promise to only send you the good stuff.
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