Kauai’s Collections

The Garden Island’s gardens and museums celebrate history and culture

By: By Dawna L. Robertson

The Kauai Museum houses a permanent collection of Hawaiian artifacts, textiles, historical photographs and works of art.// (c) Chris Faye, Kauai Museum
The Kauai Museum houses a permanent collection of Hawaiian artifacts, textiles, historical photographs and works of art. 

With such a rich history, it’s no surprise that the island of Kauai offers a comprehensive collection of venues to archive and share its storied past. This is an island where sugar cane was king and foliage flourishes beyond belief, so clients with a craving for culture and the environment can find options to experience it all.

Grove Farm Homestead Museum
Nawiliwili Harbor Rd., Lihue
Tours: Monday, Wednesday, Thursday from 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.
Admission: Adult $10, Child 12 years and under $5. Reservations required.
This 80-acre sugar plantation belonged to George N. Wilcox and his nieces who built their home here in 1864. In 1978, it was converted into a museum showcasing the rise to fame of the prominent family.

Hoopulapula Haraguchi Rice Mill 
5-5070 Kuhio Hwy., Hanalei
Tours: Wednesday at 10 a.m.
Admission: $65 covers tour, taro smoothie and picnic lunch. Reservations required.
Hawaii's only remaining rice mill (listed on the National Register of Historic Places) is tucked away on the Haraguchi family’s working wetland taro farm in Hanalei Valley. Farm and mill tours cover Hawaii's agriculture and cultural history, endangered native water birds, and cultivation and uses of taro.

Kokee Natural History Museum
Kokee State Park, Rte. 550 from Kekaha
Hours: Daily from 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Admission: Donations accepted. Reservations required for guided tours.
As the interpretive center of Waimea Canyon and Kokee State Parks, the museum offers exhibitions, orientation and a self-guided trail map to one of the world’s most isolated and unique ecosystems. Collections include exhibits on natural and cultural history of the Hawaiian archipelago. Guided hikes, workshops and seminars are presented seasonally.

Kauai Children's Discovery Museum 
4-831 Kuhio Hwy., Kapaa
Hours: Tuesday through Saturday from 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
Admission: Adult $5, Children 17 and under $4. Reservations recommended.
This hands-on center allows children to explore aspects of Kauai’s culture, the arts and science. Exhibits include a craft room, reading room and cultural village.

Kauai Historical Society 
4396 Rice St., Suite 101, Lihue
Hours: Monday through Friday from 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
Admission: Donations accepted. Reservations required.
Located in the Kauai County Building, the collection includes 12,000-plus photographs, 3,200 maps, plantation records, nearly 100 years of The Garden Island newspaper, 4,500 books and the Guslander Coco Palms Museum collection.

Kauai Museum 
4428 Rice St., Lihue
Tours: Monday through Friday 9 a.m.-4 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Admission: Adults $10, Students 13–17 years $3, Child 6–12 years $1, children five years and under free
Housed in a pair of buildings on Rice Street, the Kauai Museum contains a wealth of historical artifacts, exhibits and murals tracing the island's history. Permanent collections include vintage photography, old poi pounders, idols, Hawaiian quilts, relics of sugar planters, feather leis and a replica of a plantation worker's home.

Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge 
Kilauea Point, Kilauea
Hours: Daily 10 a.m.-4 p.m. except federal holidays
Admission: Adult $5, Children 16 years free
Located on the northernmost tip of the Hawaiian Islands, Kilauea is one of the few Hawaiian refuges open to the public. The 203 acres of protected land are home to Kilauea Lighthouse, built in 1913 as a navigational aid for commercial shipping between Hawaii and the Orient. Visitors see such wildlife as Pacific golden plover, Laysan albatross, Hawaiian nene, humpback whales, Hawaiian monk seals and spinner dolphins.

Kilohana Plantation
3-2087 Kaumualii Hwy., Lihue
Hours: Daily 8 a.m.-9:30 p.m.
Admission: Free. Fees apply to carriage and railway rides.
Faithfully restored inside and out, the sugar plantation estate was built in 1935 with the intent to be the most expensive and most beautiful home ever built on Kauai. Guests can imagine plantation life as it truly was by viewing magnificent artwork and antiques of the Tudor-style mansion. Clients can tour the expansive estate grounds via carriage rides and plantation railway.

Limahuli Garden 
Haena, on the north shore
Hours: Tuesday through Saturday 9:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Reservations recommended for guided tours at 10 a.m.
Admission: Self-guided $15, guided $25
Set in a lush tropical valley surrounded by sculpted peaks, Limahuli Garden offers visions of Kauai’s natural beauty and intriguing antiquity. Visitors can stroll through lava rock terraces and learn about native plants, flowers and fruits.

National Tropical Botanical Garden 
3530 Papalina Rd., Kalaheo
Hours: The visitor center is open daily from 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Guided gardens tours are scheduled throughout the day, with reservations recommended.
Admission: Allerton Tours - Adults $40, Children 10 - 12 $20. McBryde Tours – Adults $20, Children 6 – 12 $10.
Located on Kauai’s south shore, NTBG administers over 200 acres of extraordinary beauty with historical significance. The visitors center for McBryde and Allerton gardens is located outside of the Lawai Valley, with the gardens proper on a scenic knoll overlooking the beautiful Pacific Ocean. Self-guided and guided tours are offered to both gardens, with clients viewing rare and endangered Hawaiian species and plants.

Waioli Mission House 
Hanalei Historical District, between Lihue and Haena
Hours: Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
Admission: Free
Set in Hanalei Valley, this 1837 missionary home and grounds capture rural life on Kauai as it was 160 years ago. Collections include historical house furnishings, plants and trees representing traditional Hawaiian horticulture.

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