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

Hawaii_Kauai_Koloa_heritage_trailDown the road from Poipu Beach Park and a short drive inland is the roadside marker for Puuwanawana (No. 9), one of about 40 long-extinct volcanic vents dotting this slice of the island, created by explosive lava eruptions between 3.5 million and 500,000 years ago. The titular natural feature of another rugged site, Spouting Horn Park (No. 1), is a punctured ocean lava tube that sends sprays of seawater up to 60 feet in the air.

While other visitors gather in a fenced-in overlook, cameras at the ready for Spouting Horn’s next burst, I gaze down at the shoreline’s glistening blue-green waters and listen for the sound of a hissing lizard. According to Hawaiian legend, an enormous mo‘o (lizard) exploring the lava shelf here got stuck in the lava tube’s puhi (blowhole). The noise accompanying each wave’s geyser of spray through the puhi is believed to be the mo‘o’s huffy exhale.

The next site noted on the Heritage Trail map takes us to a small park fronted by a fishpond. The area is the Birthplace of Prince Jonah Kuhi Kalanianaole (No. 2), born 140 years ago in a grass hut. Kuhio was 22 years old and in line for succession to the Kingdom of Hawaii’s throne when the monarchy was overthrown in 1893. He went on to become the only person born into royalty to ever serve in the United States Congress. The Koloa and Poipu communities celebrate Kuhio’s birthday each March with two weeks of festivities.

Among the other Heritage Trail sites in the Poipu area is Hanakaape Bay & Koloa Landing (No. 3), where as many as 60 ships anchored annually during Hawaii’s 19th-century whaling boom. On our visit, a few scuba divers bob on the surface of the landing’s gentle waters. No ships in sight. Further east, we stop at Kihahouna Heiau (No. 5), an ancient temple dedicated to several Hawaiian gods, including Kane, god of creation.
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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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