Everything you need to know about visiting Poipu, Koloa, and Waimea
- Poipu translates to “crashing waves.”
- The Spouting Horn blowhole shoots water 40 ft high.
- The southernmost tip of Kauai is in Poipu.
- On Kauai it is illegal to build a building that is taller than a palm tree.
- Endangered Hawaiian monk seals love to sunbathe along Poipu beaches. Keep your distance, or risk fines of up to $50,000 or jail time.
- In Kauai it is illegal to build a building that is taller than a Palm tree
- The first successful sugarcane plantation in Hawaii was founded in 1835 in Koloa, the gateway to Poipu.
Let’s start off with the name, Poipu, correctly pronounced poh-ee-pooh, although you’ll often hear poy-pooh. The sandy twin crescents of sprawling Poipu Beach Park, a coastline of reliable surf breaks for beginners and body surfing spots for experts, and winters of relatively dry, sunny weather with calm waters explain much of the appeal of this South Shore resort area. But golfers, gourmets, spa goers and shoppers also find Poipu a vacation magnet, with attractions at nearly every price point.
The Shops at Kukuiula, for example, offer several fine dining options and luxury boutiques, but also shave ice and food truck-style shrimp plates; head to the nearby historic plantation town of Koloa (koh-low-ah) for more tasty, affordable fare. Greens fees at the region’s three 18-hole golf courses start at just over $100 at Kiahuna Plantation to about $225 for the championship Poipu Bay Golf Course next to the Grand Hyatt Kauai (home to the sprawling Anara Spa) or the elite links at the private Club at Kukui‘ula. Poipu Shopping Village brims with moderately priced restaurants, including coffee and juice bars, as well as souvenir and surfwear boutiques.
Beyond the string of enticing beaches, nature also deserves credit for cliffs of lithified sand, part of the scenic Mahaulepu Heritage Trail that starts above Shipwreck (Keoneloa) Beach, and for the trusty, noisy blowholes of sea spray at Spouting Horn. The latter is near the National Tropical Botanical Garden complex, where visitors are shuttled down to an immense valley of botanic gardens and intriguing landscaping for guided and self-guided tours.
Although it’s the darling destination of visitors now, Poipu is also home to the remains of a 20-acre Hawaiian village, Kaneiolouma, that dates back to the 1400s. You can witness the restoration of the home sites and fish ponds built around the sacred spring of Waiohai, close to Poipu Beach Park. You can’t miss it, thanks to a large platform of wooden tiki sculptures with interpretive signs.
Where to Stay Near and Around Poipu, Koloa, and Waimea
Where to Eat Near and Around Poipu, Koloa, and Waimea
Poipu's Annual Events
FEBRUARY: For a lively experience on Kauai’s South Shore, make sure to spend a day at the Waimea Town Celebration. This nine-day festival features live music, cocktails & cuisine, competitions, contests and more. The Kauai Paniolo Showdown Rodeo is not to miss!
JULY: The Koala Plantation Days is a historical and cultural celebration unlike any other on the island. In 1835, workers of various ethnicities moved to Hawaii and helped the plantations flourish. The week-long event, held at the location of the first sugar plantations, celebrates Hawaiian history and the immigrants who contributed to Hawaii’s rich culture.
SEPTEMBER: Take a break from the beach and get active by running in the Kaua’i Marathon and Half Marathon. The scenic course begins in Poipu and trails along the coast with views of volcanic peaks and the ocean.
OCTOBER: All chocolate and coffee lovers will not want to miss the Kauai Chocolate & Coffee Festival for a taste of Hawaiian specialties. The festival includes live entertainment, educational workshops and presentations, activities and more. To guarantee a sampling of Hawaii’s best chocolate and coffee, make sure to buy a ticket in advance.