Go off the beaten path at Poipu Beach and visit Makauwahi Cave when you stay at our Kauai vacation rentals. Recording island life dating back 10,000 years, this is the largest limestone cave complex in the Hawaiian Islands. It is also the richest fossil site in the entire Pacific Island region. Definitely a hidden treasure, Makauwahi Cave is one of the coolest things to do on Kauai that often gets overlooked.
Hollywood was impressed enough to feature Makauwahi Cave in the movie, Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. It was here that Johnny Depp’s Captain Jack Sparrow leaped from one of its high cliffs. While we do not advise that type of entry to the cave, you can walk around its top rim when hiking the Mahaulepu Trail and take a tour inside with some advance planning.
Makauwahi Cave started 400,000 years ago in the heart of an ancient sand dune.
It then turned to stone and became a huge fossil. About 7,000 years ago the ceiling in the cave’s central room collapsed creating a sinkhole and a fresh water lake. Now that the lake is gone, the plants and animals that fell into it are preserved. The result is a world class site for studying changes in past environments.
Treasures found at the cave feature many plant and animal fossils including artifacts from the Polynesians who first arrived in the islands. The remains of some 40 species of birds have been found here too, half of these species are now extinct.
Makauwahi Cave today and tour information.
The 17-acre park belongs to Grove Farm Company. It was created by Dr. David and Lida Pigott Burney with the help of hundreds of volunteers. As you walk the rim of the cave, you can look down into the sinkhole and also admire the views of Mauhaulepu Beach and the Haupa Mountain Ridge.
Reaching Makauwahi Cave on Foot – One of the most popular trails for Kauai hiking is the coastal walk from Shipwreck Beach to Mahaulepu Beach. You will find the cave near trail’s end about two miles from where you started.
Reaching Makauwahi Cave by Car – Get ready for a bumpy ride. Continue on the dirt road past the Grand Hyatt Kauai. Go approximately 2 miles to a crossroads and turn right and proceed to a green gate with a shack on the right. Turn right just past the shack. Drive along the edge of the field, continuing past a grey garden shed, and park on the left side at the bottom of the field, just past sign post 18. Don’t block the road or the horse trail.
Guided Tours – No reservations required. Recommended donation is $10 per person. Open from 10 am to 4:00 pm, seven days a week. If you visit on another day or time, you can still walk around the top of the cave and look into the sinkhole.
Entry to the cave requires that you crawl on your hands and knees for a brief distance. Once you are in the cave, it opens up to the sky.
Read our guide to Kauai Activities for more things to do on Kauai. Have you been to Makauwahi Cave? We invite you to share your experience.