Looking Backwards at Forward Thinking
Understanding the history of the Kukuiolono Park will allow for a deeper appreciation of all that this park has to offer and what it represents. Walter McBryde, a visionary and successful businessman gifted this 178 acre park to the people of Kalaheo and Kauai upon his death in 1930. His wish was to have the park not only for the residents of Kalaheo, but surrounding communities.
Walter McBryde's burial site
In 1907, McBryde purchased 346 acres at a public auction and then leased half of it to finance the maintenance of the other half. He built the park and added a golf course in 1928. When McBryde who is buried at Kukuiolono died, he contributed his life savings to maintain this park.
Three Trademarks of Kukuiolono Park
There are three distinguishable things about this park that stand out.
1. Historical Picture Boards:
These pictures boards which are in the entrance to the gardens, in the pavilion and at the golf course clubhouse, pay tribute to McBryde and represent the historical significance of the area. These are from the archives of Kukuiolono, Kauai Museum, and community members.
2. Japanese and Hawaiian Gardens
The Japanese Tea Garden is full of statues, fountains, bonsai trees, and bridges. There is also a Hawaiian Rock garden depicting ancient artifacts and a meditation pavilion.
3. The Pavilion
The Pavilion located ¼ mile from the parking lot up to the peak provides a secluded relaxing area to digest the surrounding peace and unprecedented sweeping views of Kauai’s southern and western shorelines. My son and I made the trek up, as he enjoyed running down the tree lined path just before reaching the pavilion.
Fun for Our Keiki and Visitors
The keiki always love a trip to Kukuiolono park to play in the gardens and to frolic in the open space. Our family enjoy the safe, relaxing lush environment that this park provides. The keiki enjoy feeding the chickens, and playing hide and go seek on the offbeat walking paths in the Japanese Tea garden as well as Hawaiian Rock Garden. Hiding underneath the foot bridge to play out the three billy goats Gruff is always included.
Kukuiolono is one of the best places we like to take our children and guests. It is a great place to take our visitors for a quick game of golf and a nice place to have a family picnic. Kukuiolono park is one of those hidden gems on Kauai which locals and visitors alike can enjoy. Through the experience, you gain an appreciation to those of our past, such as Walter McBryde’s, who exercised forward thinking. His vision can help us understand that we can also leave our legacies in our own communities. Walter McBryde was loving our community and lifestyle, a true L.O.C.A.L.
To reach Kukuiolono Park, head mauka, towards the mountains to the town of Kalaheo. At the light, turn left onto Papalina Road. The green sign for Papalina Road is undeniably bold and cannot be missed. Turn right onto Puu Road and then a quick right for the front entrance to the park. Pass through the stone archway which was constructed to honor Walter McBryde’s mother. You will travel up the path along a rock wall to the parking lot. If you make a right right turn at the reindeer, before the parking lot, it will take you to Kukuiolono Golf Course clubhouse, (a 9-hole community golf course that is affordably priced). There you will experience more sweeping views of Kauai’s southwestern side including a view of Kalaheo Coffee Plantation.