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On Walkabout: Drive From Lihue To Poipu Beach

Basic Information


After landing at the Lihue Airport the first thing people do is get their bags and then either take a taxi, shuttle, or rental car to their hotel.  Since my wife and I usually stay at the Sheraton Kauai Resort that meant that we had about a 30 minute drive from the airport to the hotel located at the beach side community of Poipu:

Kauai however is one of those places where I don’t mind doing a commute because it is such as beautiful island.  For example here is a view looking towards the highlands of the old eroded volcano Mt. Waialeale as I drove from the airport:

The 5,148 feet (1,569 m) summit of Mt. Waialeale is usually shrouded with clouds, but on a few days every year it shows itself to everyone on the island.  From Lihue we had to take Highway 50 the main highway around the island to Poipu.  This road is called the Kaumualii Highway after the last king of Kauai.  On clear days the views of the surrounding farm land and central mountains from the highway can be quite scenic:

From the Kaumualii Highway we had to turn south down Maluhia Road to go to Poipu.  Something unique about this road is that it initially travels through what is known as the “Tree Tunnel“:

These trees were planted by a Scottish immigrant Walter Duncan McBryde who began a cattle ranch on this area of the island.  McBryde planted these Eucalyptus Trees over 150 years ago. The trees once formed an even thicker canopy over the road before two hurricanes damaged the tops of the trees.

Once the road exits the tree tunnel the next views available are of the Haupu Range:

On the other side of this range is where Lihue and the airport is located:

The highest peak of the range Haupu Peak rises to a maximum elevation of 2,297 feet:

Most of the area around the Haupu Range is lush farm land.  Much of this farm land used to sugar cane fields that supported the now closed Koloa Sugar Mill:

This mill like the “Tree Tunnel” is also because of Walter McBryde who started the McBryde Sugar Co. in 1898. The mill closed back in 1996 and is now slotted to become a water treatment plant in the near future.

As the Maluhia Road approaches the small community of Koloa that was once home to many of the sugar mill workers many beautiful trees can be seen along the road:

There is also some cactus that is visible as well:

This cactus is not native to Hawaii but was used by early farmers and ranchers as a substitute for fencing along with the native volcanic rock.  This is why this cactus is found only around the Poipu area where ranching was a prominent business and not other parts of the island.  From Koloa it is a short drive to Poipu.  Poipu isn’t really much of a town but rather a collection of beach resorts, condos, and holiday homes.

When driving to the Sheraton where I was staying at, it is important to keep in mind that the sign for the hotel is not easily visible if driving from Lihue since it is pointed in the opposite direction of the road:

So the first time I stayed here at the hotel I actually drove right past the hotel before realizing my mistake.  Fortunately right down the road is a traffic circle where it is easy to turn around and make the turn to the resort:


Even for people not staying in Poipu it is still well worth taking a drive down the Maluhia Road to see this part of the island.  The scenery is beautiful and the small, charming village of Koloa is well worth checking out.  Additionally for those looking to take a swim the beaches at Poipu are considered some of the best on the island.  It would be easy to spend a whole day in the Poipu area and the drive there is part of the fun.

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