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Chasing Trail: Exploring the Koloa Heritage Trail along Kauai’s scenic south shore

Hawaii_Kauai_Koloa_heritage_trailDigging my toes into warm, sugary-fine sand at Poipu Beach Park, I exchange a few sidelong glances with a large honu (green sea turtle) parked just yards away at the water’s edge. In complete synch with the Garden Isle’s easygoing vibe, neither of us is in a hurry to leave the lapping waters and midmorning sunshine just yet.

Still, I’m hoping to explore another 13 stops along Kauai’s south shore before the sun goes down—many of them, I hope, as lovely as this one. After slowly gathering up my slippers and daypack, I bid a fond "see you later" to my reptilian neighbor (pictured, above) and leave him to his day of leisure. I’ve got some trail work to do.

My traveling companion and I are following the self-guided, 10-mile Koloa Heritage Trail—in Hawaiian, Ka Ala Hele Waiwai Ho‘oilina o Koloa—which meanders through the resort community of Poipu and nearby former sugar plantation town, Koloa. The path, which winds by cultural, historical and geological sites, each marked by a lava-rock pedestal marker with a descriptive bronze plaque, is open to walkers/runners, cyclists, motorists and anyone else up for catching glimpses of a vast past.

The Poipu Beach Association offers a convenient map, with each of the trail’s 14 stops numbered to keep a sort of linear, non-backtracking route from coastline Spouting Horn Park to Koloa Missionary Church, further inland. But, as Fleetwood Mac once suggested in song, I decide to go my own way.

The marker at the entrance to Poipu  Beach Park (Marker No. 6) focuses on the area’s abundant marine life, which has changed little since early Hawaiians fished these waters and harvested salt in evaporative pools dug out from land near the shore. In addition to swirling schools of tropical fish, eels, sea urchins and the occasional sunbathing honu, rare Hawaiian monk seals are often spotted here swimming or lounging in the sand.

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Check out these related HawaiiMagazine.com posts:
Walk on the Wild Side: Hiking Kauai's Mahaulepu Heritage Trail
Koloa Plantation Days get under way this week on Kauai's south shore
Koloa Plantation Days fest gets under way this weekend near Kauai's south shore

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