Discover the Enchanting Makauwahi Cave Reserve in Poipu

Entrance to the Maukawahi Cave in Poipu

The Makauwahi Cave Reserve in Poipu is a hidden archeological gem nestled amidst the stunning landscapes of Kauai. This 17-acre ancient site, boasting a magnificent limestone cave as its centerpiece, offers a fascinating adventure for both kids and adults alike. Explore the remnants of the past and uncover the secrets of extinct species that once called this place home.

Uncovering the Mysteries

Archaeologists David Burney and Linda Pigott Burney have dedicated years to meticulously studying the layers of sediment within the caves. Their findings have been nothing short of extraordinary. The walls of the cave and the ground beneath have revealed a wealth of information about the past. From floods and hurricanes to droughts and even a massive tsunami, the historical records contained within these ancient walls provide insights into the last 10,000 years of Kaua‘i’s rich history. The cave is a treasure trove of clues, containing fossils and remains of extinct plants and animals.

Journey to the Cave

To reach the Makauwahi Cave, there are two recommended paths to choose from. The first option is an exhilarating two-mile hike from Keoneloa Bay, also known as Shipwreck’s Beach. Follow the coastal trail on the Makawehi Cliffs, passing the CJM horse stable until you reach the sinkhole. The second route involves driving past the Hyatt and navigating the private dirt road owned by Grove Farm. Brace yourself for a bumpy ride as you encounter numerous potholes along the way. Once you arrive, park at the horse stables or Mahaulepu Beach and make your way towards the cliffs. Amidst the breathtaking views of Mahaulepu Beach and the shimmering Pacific Ocean, a trail leading between ironwood trees will guide you to the cave.

Finding the entrance to the sinkhole may pose a challenge, as it is not always open to the public. However, the reward is well worth the effort. Prepare to crawl through a low passage until you can stand inside the cave. Behold the sight of a green amphitheater adorned with endemic Hawaiian plants that once flourished in the sinkhole’s natural landscape.

The Wonder within the Caves

The Makauwahi Cave consists of two distinct areas—the north cave and the south cave. The north cave is an awe-inspiring fossil formation that dates back over 400,000 years. Roughly 7,000 years ago, the central room of the cave collapsed, creating a freshwater lake. This ancient lake preserved evidence of pre-contact Hawai‘i, including the remains of 45 bird species and countless other plant and animal life that has only recently been discovered.

The south cave, with its delicate geology, limits how far visitors can venture. However, it is home to some of Hawai‘i’s rarest creatures, such as blind cave invertebrates, pale amphipods and isopods, and the eyeless cave spider. These unique species thrive within the cave and its adjoining lava tubes.

Explore with a Guide

To truly appreciate the wonders of the Makauwahi Cave, join one of the free guided tours available daily from 10 am to 4 pm. Knowledgeable volunteer guides will lead you through the expansive sinkhole, pointing out intriguing fossils and artifacts along the way. Delve into the rich history and valuable information contained within this natural marvel. Standing within the sinkhole that was once teeming with wildlife and foliage, you cannot help but marvel at the splendors of Mother Nature.

After your exploration of the Makauwahi Cave, take a leisurely stroll on the nearby Mahaulepu Beach or pay a visit to the tortoise farm. Complete your perfect day on beautiful Kaua‘i with these incredible experiences.

For more information, visit the Ambassadeur Hotel website.

Discover the hidden wonders of Makauwahi Cave Reserve.