Historic Kauai

Article excerpt

Historic Kauai

When Captain Cook reached the HawaiianIslands in 1778, it was near Waimea, on the island of Kauai, that he landed. Not quite 60 years later, Kauai became the site of Hawaii's first sugar plantation. Despite these historical "firsts,' Kauai has lagged behind other islands in largescale development of resorts and high-rise hotels. The result is a recipe for successful historic preservation: a rich history, and something left to preserve.

In the past three years, new preservationprojects have appeared on the island's east and south shores; each is the work of a private developer who perceived both commercial as well as esthetic advantage in reconstructing historic sites. They add to Kauai's already impressive collection of historic sites, including Hanalei's 1837 Waioli Mission House and Lihue's Grove Farm Homestead (tours here require reservations at least a week ahead), giving visitors an opportunity to step back in time while exploring this most Hawaiian of the islands. We describe three tour stops and two lodging choices.

Reconstructed Hawaiian village on the banks of the Wailua River

Built on the site of a centuries-old Polynesiansettlement, Kamokila Hawaiian Village is a simple re-creation of an ancient Kauai settlement. Hurricane Iwa devastated the site soon after its opening in 1981; it reopened in June 1985.

Visitors are greeted with demonstrationsof Hawaiian quilting and lei making; guides then spend an hour or more leading small groups through the village.

From Lihue, take State Highway 56north 7 miles. After crossing the Wailua River, turn west on State 580 and continue about 2 miles to the village entrance. Kamokila is open from 9 to 4 Mondays through Saturdays; admission is $5, $1.50 for children under 12.

Kilohana: new life for a 1935 sugar-cane estate

Rarely is a historic home transformedinto a commercial site without losing much of its original flavor. Kilohana is an exception. This centerpiece of the former Wilcox estate has been carefully restored, with slight modifications made to tuck small shops into former bedrooms and offices. The living room has been left intact, however; period furnishings hint of the plantation manager's genteel lifestyle.

Lunch ($6 to $10) and dinner ($17 to$23) are served daily in the courtyard at Gaylord's restaurant. Or take in the nightly plantation cookout ($12 to $17, $8 for ages 10 and under). Shops are open daily from 9:30 to 7. Kilohana is about 2 miles southwest of Lihue on State 50.

On the road to Poipu: Old Koloa Town

Four years ago, Koloa was little morethan a sleepy junction with a few marginal businesses on the road to Poipu Beach. …