If you are looking for a different kind of adventure when visiting Hawaii, make sure you take the time to explore Makauwahi Cave in Kauai!
This enchanted place used to be a cave on the coast of Kauai, but when the roof collapsed in, it created a sink hole with a lake contained inside. Many species of plants and animals have lived here over the years. The lake is gone now, but so much remains to be found.
Where is Makauwahi Cave in Kauai?
DIRECTIONS: Find the south shore of Kauai and the town of Poipu. Head east on Poipu Road until it turns to dirt. Stay on this road passing the Hyatt and golf course on your right side. The road will come to a T in the road. Take a right and drive a short distance. Take the second right, down a dirt road. There should be signage pointing the way from here.
Makauwahi Cave Preserve
Park in the Parking area above, and take a short walk across a bridge, and go right to the entrance of the Makauwahi Cave in Kauai. You will have to get on your hands and knees to enter this cave, but the entrance is only about 8-10 feet long.
Once you are inside you will be able to stand up, but watch your head! The cave opens up into a circular amphitheater. It makes for a quiet and peaceful place to be, and you can hear the ocean ever so faintly off in the distance.
This is not a guided tour here, and it is totally free to explore the caves. You are able to donate to the preservation of the cave though. There is a person in the south end of the cave that gives out information to anyone wanting to learn more about the caves.
Whats up with the name Makauwahi?
Makauwahi in the native language translates to “smoke eye.” This is due to the legend of a Seer that used to live here when the cave had water in it. You could go to this man and ask him a question and he would throw a piece of charcoal into the water and read the smoke that would come out.
There is a lot of grass, foliage, and trees growing in the open cave. There is plenty of sunlight and rain so anything that falls or blows into the cave from afar will grow quite well.
Makauwahi Cave has a lot to learn. It is Hawaii’s largest limestone cave, and contains hundreds of plants and waterbirds that are native to the islands, many of which are endangered. There is always ongoing research at the cave, and they are constantly digging up more fossils, and discovering new secrets of the cave.
The ecosystem inside of the cave is different from outside of the cave surrounding it, and there is even a special ecosystem inside the small cave at the south end of the the large open cave.
The South Makauwahi Cave
I’m not sure this spot is officially called the south cave, but that’s what i’m calling it, since it seems to branch off into a separate cave. This is where you can find the dude talking about the cave, and all the discoveries being found new and old.
All the information at the cave opening is pretty cool. It talks a little about the preservation, findings, and history of the entire Makauwahi Cave. After reading the info and listening to the worker, you can go explore the cave a little.
Leaving the Cave
Once your done head back out the way you came in and don’t head back to your car quite yet. Instead, head back toward the bridge where you originally took a right, and head left. You can find a trail here that takes you up to the top, where you can look down into the sinkhole.
Looking in from above Makauwahi
When you make it up the short trail to the top, you can walk around the edge and peer into the open sinkhole. You can also see mountains off in the distance back toward the island.
Makauwahi Cave in Kauai is an amazing and interesting place filled with history, beauty, and fossils from many lifetimes, recent and prehistoric. It’s not very well known about, and is easily missed by people hiking the Maha’ulepu Heritage Trail on the south shore. If you’re going to visit the island, be sure to make time to visit.
You can learn more about Makauwahi Cave from their website here.
Check out these other blog posts from places I saw around Kauai!
- KUILAU RIDGE TRAIL
- SLEEPING GIANT (NOUNOU) TRAIL
- WAI KOA LOOP TRAIL
- ANINI BEACH
- KAUAI COFFEE CO
- DEEP SEA FISHING IN KAUAI
- SUNSET CATAMARAN IN KAUAI
- WAIMEA CANYON IN KAUAI
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Here is a small list of gear that I take with me on my adventures.
- Camera: iPhone and GoPro
- Protective iPhone Case: Insipio Case
- Go Pro Handle: GoPro Handler
- Power Bank: Anker Bank
- Backpack: Camelback
- Jacket: Columbia Waterproof Jacket
- Boots: Vasque Boots
- Sunscreen: Sky Organics