Visitors Information in Poipu and Koloa, Kauai
Despite its small size—about 550 square miles—Kauai has four distinct regions, each with its own unique characteristics. The windward coast, which catches the prevailing trade winds, consists of the North Shore and East Side, while the drier leeward coast encompasses the South Shore and West Side. One main road nearly encircles the island, except for a 15-mi stretch of sheer cliffs called Napali Coast. The center of the island—Mt. Waialeale, completely inaccessible by car and viewable only from above due to nearly year-round cloud cover—is the wettest spot on earth, getting about 450 inches of rain per year. On Kauai, the directions mauka (toward the mountains) and makai (toward the ocean) are often used. Locals tend to refer to highways by name rather than by number.
Scenic rocky coastlines, walking trails, waterfalls, and picture-perfect golden-sand beaches make it difficult to determine which activity to choose first. Kayaking, snorkeling, horseback riding, bodysurfing, and swimming are among the activities all ages can enjoy. One of the nation's top 18 golf courses is Poipu Bay Golf Course, home of the PGA Grand Slam of Golf from 1994 to 2007. Koloa Landing, an inlet of lava rocks where the river and sea meet, is great for snorkeling and good for turtle spotting. Poipu's incredible beaches include Shipwreck's Beach, Mahaulepu (which consists of three breath-taking beaches), Brennecke's Beach, Poipu Beach and Park, Lawai Beach, and Palama Beach. Other notable landmarks include Baby Beach, PK's surf spot, Koloa Landing, Keiki Cove, and Lawai Kai Bay. Snorkeling, surfing, sunbathing, snuba, windsurfing, scuba, and other fun activities are ideal at any of the various South Shore beaches. Allerton Garden, Prince Kuhio Park (birthplace of Prince Jonah Kuhio Kalanianaole, the "People's Prince," who opened the beaches of Waikiki to the public in 1918), McBryde Garden, Spouting Horn, and a coffee plantation's visitor center and museum are all significant spots to visit and tour on Kauai's South Shore.