A historic cave with ferns cascading from its ceiling, tucked inside a lush rain forest laden with tropical plants, are just two of the pleasures our Kauai vacation rental guests can enjoy at the Fern Grotto. Add to the mix a memorable boat ride on the Wailua River and you have one of the oldest Kauai activities on the island.
The Fern Grotto has been the site of 19,000 Kauai weddings and a performance of the Hawaiian Wedding Song remains a highlight on the guided tour. Adventure seekers can opt out of the tour for a self guided Kauai kayaking paddle up the only navigable river in Hawaii.
Ancient Hawaiians came to this grotto to offer crops to Lono, one of the four Gods in Hawaiian mythology. Prior to 1935, a huge waterfall spilled into the area until the water was diverted for agriculture. Ferns are growing back again after the grotto was damaged in heavy rains during 2006 storms. While it is no longer possible to walk inside the 35 foot deep cave, you can see the beauty of the Fern Grotto from a platform nearby.
Wailua River Cruise to Fern Grotto Offered by Smith’s
The 90 minute open air boat tours have been in operation since 1946 by the same family. Tours depart four times daily from the Wailua Marina State Park. On the boat you will be entertained by Hawaiian musicians and hula dancers and learn the history of this 20 mile river lined with ancient Hawaiian temples “heiau” and sacred stones.
Seasonal Kauai weather will impact how green you find the Fern Grotto on your visit. For the most current information, we suggest contacting Smith’s before booking a tour. As many of our guests have said, the boat ride is half the fun with its beautiful river views.
Tour Times: 9:30am, 11:00am, 2:00pm and 3:30pm.
Admission: $20 for adults and $10 for children ages 3 to 12.
Budget Tip: Book on-line 48 hours in advance and you will save 10 percent on each ticket. Call (808) 821-6895 for details.
Kauai Kayaking – Wailua Kayak Adventures
We talked to both the State Parks Department and Smith’s to see if kayaks can land at the Fern Grotto. The answer is Yes as long as you plan your arrival and departure before or after the boats. That means the time to avoid landing is approximately between 9:55am-10:30am, 11:25am to Noon, 2:25pm to 3:00pm and 3:55pm to 4:30pm.
Our best recommendation for the 6 mile round-trip paddle, is to go early in the day. This area can get windy in the afternoon making a return paddle more challenging.
Wailua Kayak Adventures is located at 1345 Ulu Street in Kapaa. They provide a car rack too and will help load the kayak on the car for you. Phone (808) 822-5795 for details.
Daily Kayak Rental Fees: $25 for a single and doubles are $50.
Driving Directions to Wailua Marina State Park
From our Princeville Rentals, take Highway 56 South through Kapaa to the Wailua River. Go past Kuamoo Road, over the river and take the first right into the Wailua Marina. If you are staying at our Poipu rentals, take Highway 56 North from the airport. A mile after Wailua Golf Course you will cross the Wailua River bridge and turn left into the park. If you are using GPS, the park address is 3-5971 Kuhio Highway in Kapaa.
Have you been to the Fern Grotto? Please leave a comment with your tips and recommendations.