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

Hawaii_Kauai_Koloa_heritage_trailIf you’re traveling the Heritage Trail by car, you’ll find most of the roadside markers easy to find. Kihahouna Heiau, however, is tucked into a beachfront walking area near a cluster of resort properties. At midday, my traveling companion and I briefly search for the marker before breaking for lunch.

In the early afternoon, we make our way inland to find the Heritage Trail’s Koloa area markers. Among the most visible of these sites is the Sugar Monument (No. 12) (pictured, right), commemorating Hawai‘i’s first sugar mill, which opened in Koloa in 1835. Across the street from the monument, we find Yamamoto Store & Koloa Hotel (No. 13), (pictured, below) which opened and thrived during the area’s sugar-plantation era. Both are now occupied by other businesses and situated in what is called Old Koloa Town, whose two main streets are lined with plantation-style storefronts housing retail and food shops, restaurants and outdoor-activity businesses. Various historical relics as well as photos and stories detailing the town’s past are on display in the Koloa History Center, on the grounds of the former hotel.Hawaii_Kauai_Koloa_heritage_trail

By late afternoon, our count of checked-off historic gems on our Heritage Trail map is up to a full dozen, with quite a bit of south-shore backstory absorbed along the way. With pau hana (finished work) time already under way in Old Koloa, my traveling companion and I decide to save the hunt for the two remaining trail markers—Keoneloa Bay (No. 7) and Makawehi & Paa Dunes (No. 8)—for a future Kauai visit.

Right now, I have my sights set on motoring back to my midmorning Poipu Beach Park starting point to find a seat on the sand where I can soak in the sunset and look for my well-rested honu friend, now likely slipping back into the sea.   

Text by Maureen O'Connell/Photos by David Croxford

Kooloa Heritage Trail: Various locations in Kooloa and Poipu. Click here to check out trail maps or call (888) 744-0888.

(This feature was originally published in the January/February 2013 issue of HAWAII Magazine.)

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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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