Saturday, February 25, 2012

Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge and Kilauea Lighthouse

One of the places that Ashley and I visited while on our honeymoon to Kauai was the Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge and Kilauea Lighthouse.  This is a beautiful location and is a great area to see local wildlife.  You will see many species of birds  while on this hike.  You also have the chance to see dolphins, sea turtles, and humpback whales (December - April). You will likely not be alone when you visit the Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge and Kilauea Lighthouse as roughly 500,000 people visit the Kilauea Lighthouse each year.  This is a fun short hike that is enjoyable for the whole family. For more pictures of the Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge and Kilauea Lighthouse make sure to check out our Facebook Page.

Directions to Trailhead:  From Lihue, drive 23.5 miles north on Highway 56 to the town of Kilauea. Turn right on Kolo Road, located between mile markers 23 and 24. Drive one block and turn left on Kilauea Road. Continue 1.6 miles to the end of the road. Turn left into the wildlife refuge entrance. The parking lot is a short distance ahead. There is a fee for entrance to the Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge. An entry fee of $5 is required for adults 16 and older. Children under 16 are free. All Federal Recreational Lands Passes are honored here. Passes are available for purchase at the refuge. A yearly kama‘aina pass can be purchased for $20.00. The kama‘aina pass allows visits to KÄ«lauea Point throughout the year for the holder and up to 3 guests.

Description of Hike:  This is a short hike with a total hiking distance of roughly 0.3 miles. There is minimal elevation gain and the trail is paved. The Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge and the historic lighthouse are located at the northernmost point in Kauai as well as the major Hawaiian Islands. This short, self-guided path on the 160 acre refuge follows the perimeter of the peninsula which is a couple hundred feet above the ocean below. The point offers amazing breathtaking views of the coastal cliffs, the crashing surf, and the picturesque lighthouse which was built on the bluff in 1913.

The trail overlooks the island of Mokuaeae, a sanctuary for thousands of nesting and migratory birds, including Laysan albatross, wedge-tailed shearwaters, and red-footed boobies. Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge also offers an opportunity to observe seals, dolphins, sea turtles, and seasonal humpback whales from December through April.

Further Thoughts:  Ashley and I really enjoyed this fun short hike. This is not a true wilderness hiking experience but is more of a hike that offers you great chances of seeing local wildlife that is found on the Island of Kauai.  There are restrooms on the grounds near the entrance and the park rangers/staff are very friendly and helpful.  There are also a number of educational exhibits found on the Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge which offer you the chance to learn about local wildlife.

Here is a little information about the lighthouse that is on the Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge. The Kilauea Lighthouse began lighting the way for mariners in 1913. It served as a pivotal navigation aid for ships sailing on the Orient run. The historic light station consists of a concrete lighthouse, three field stone keepers' quarters, a fuel oil shed, cisterns, and a supply landing platform. It is one of the nations most intact historic light stations. Even in the early years, travelers came to enjoy the area's scenic beauty and to explore the magnificent light. Today Kilauea Point is one of Kauai‘i's most visited sites with more than 500,00 visitors a year.

The landmark played a prominent role the life of the nearby sugar plantation town of Kilauea. The lighthouse is a symbol of the town; and the Point is one the island's best loved places. Kilauea Point is listed on the State and National Registers of Historic Places. After the light was decommissioned in 1976, the US Fish and Wildlife Service acquired it in 1985 and currently manages the 31-acre site as part of a 203-acre wildlife refuge.

This is a hike that is nice to do while on the island of Kauai as it is short and very relaxing.  Additionally, you have a chance of seeing wildlife as the refuge is home to some of the largest populations of nesting seabirds in in the main Hawaiian Islands. You will not be disappointed by a visit to this area, especially if you go during whale season! To see a video we shot of the humpback whales we saw while on this hike click Here.

Rating: Elevation Gain: Less than 50 ft. (Very Easy), Distance: 0.3 Miles Roundtrip (Very Easy).

Time to Complete Hike: 30 minutes.


Hanalei Bay

Iliau Nature Loop

Kalalau Trail on the Na Pali Coast

Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge (This Post)

Waimea Canyon Lookout

Manini-holo Dry Cave

View Untitled Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge and Kilauea Lighthouse in a larger map

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Ashley and I encourage and welcome our readers to submit comments about their experiences on the trails we have posted on our blog or about their own hiking experiences in general.