Drive through Kapa'a town till you reach Wailua at around the five mile marker. Wailua Beach is on your right. Turn right toward the mountains on to Opaekaa Road [hwy 580] We are going to visit some heiau (temples), sacred places. The whole of Wailua is sacred to our Hawaiian people. Please, when near or in a heiau, do not touch anything or climb over the rock walls. These are sacred and historic sites. Imagine someone going into your church and messing with the arrangements. Wailua is a very special area on Kauai. It was, in the old days (na wa kahiko), a gathering place for the most sacred of ceremonies.
Pohaku Ho'ohanau - The Birthing stone - Birthplace of Ali'i. Within a half mile from the turn-off at Kuamo'o, you will arrive at Pohaku Ho'ohanau. Here is where many of Our Kauai Ali'i, my ancestors, were born. When I was a child, there still existed a grass hut there in the park under taht tree.
Drive up the hill and you will arrive at Poliahu Heiau and Opaeka'a falls. The large heiau is situated on a bluff overlooking the Wailua River. Believed to have been a luakini (sacrificial area) heiau, this site consists of boulder walls and stone paved floors. Just makai (ocean side) of the heiau is the "bellstone." The ali'i would signal major events in Wailua by drumming on these stones - and the sound (like a bell) would echo down the valley announcing the event.
The waterfall you see across the road is Opaeka'a, meaning "rolling" or "tumbling shrimp" because of the flowing water and prolific shrimp population in that stream. From here you get a glorious view of the Wailua River Valley. No wonder the Hawaiians believed it sacred and special.
Drive back down the hill to the stop light, turn right toward Lihue, and cross the Wailua bridge.
On the right is Kalaeokamanu Heiau. This heiau is believed to be one of the oldest on Kauai and the site where several religious traditions were introduced. There are differing thoughts as to the translation of the name of this signig=ficant heiau, and most are correct; One being, "The wisdomn of the Children," and another being "the promontory where the birds gather" - ie- "a place of quietude".
Lygate Beach Park:
Turn left on Leho Drive. You will arrive at Lydgate Beach Park. Some years back - in the 60's, a local resident got some money together, and the cooperation of the powers that be and created the swimming ponds you see here. At the end of the parking lot is the heiau "Hikina a ka la".
Hikina a ka La - [The Emerging of the Sun]:
Hikinaakala is translated as "rising of the sun" or "sun in the east". It was at this heiau, built around A.D. 1300, that the dawn was celebrated with prayers and chants. Adjacent to the heiau was "Hauola", a "pu'uhonua" or place of refuge (City of Refuge) where one could escape punishment and find safety during war or many other infractions.
Wailua Petroglyphs: Right there at the rivermouth, sometimes the river and ocean currents remove the blanket of sand that covers the boulders along the riverbank of Wailua. On several of these boulders are petroglyphs, including human forms, fish, and geometric forms. You might also see the grinding surfaces on these boulders where stone adzes were sharpened and polished.
Take a ride up the Wailua river (Wailua means - two waters - up stream, two separate rivers join to for one) with Smith's Boat Tours. On the south side of the river, you can find the concession for Smith's Boats, who will take you upriver to experience the Fern Grotto and other scenic and historic sites. Hawaiian entertainment, legends and stories all the way up the two mile ride.
When you hit the town of Hanama'ulu just before the airport, turn in and drive through. Go down the hill into Kapaia valley and turn right up Maalo Road (Hwy 583. Drive about 4 miles to the Wailua Falls view point. Wailuia Falls is on th eWest Bend of the Wailua river and measures about 85 feet tall. Do Not take the trail down to the base. Although it is possible, it is very dangerous.
Drive through Lihue. If you turn left, you'll get to Nawiliwili and Kalapaki Bay. A great beach and park with public rest rooms and outdoor showers are there at Kalapaki