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Makauwahi Cave Reserve

On a property that belongs to Grove Farm Company, you will find a park that was created by Dr. David and Lida Pigott Burney.  This 17 acre park is open for free guided tours daily from 10:00 am -2:00 pm and on Sundays from 10:00 am- 4:00 pm. Led by Reserve Caretaker Joe Kanahele tour guides Linda Kosen, Deborah Flynn, Jerry Keesee, Keakalina Lindsay and with the aid of hundreds of volunteers, the Makauwahi Cave Preserve invites visitors to learn about Hawaii’s rarest creatures, extinct creatures, lost landscapes and ancient Hawaiian culture.  It has been voted one of the 20 best caves in the U.S.

Walk on the sediments that spanned over 10,000 years  ago and learn about the many changes that this area has gone through over time.  The fossil-bearing layers record floods, droughts, a tsunami, hurricanes, and the living and dying of a host of island plant and and animal species in the area. The cave is a huge fossil formed over 400,000 years. The once ancient sand dune turned into stone is a world class site for studying changes in past environments. Created by wind, natural water flowing and condensation over thousands of years, the cave showcases remarkable formations on the ceilings and walls.

In the low maze like passages of the cave where there is total darkness, many rare creatures such as blind invertebrates, pale amphipods and isopods, and eyeless cave spiders make their home.  Many of the areas are off limits to the public out of respect for Hawaiian traditions and to avoid stepping on the rare blind cave organisms that live there.

A freshwater lake can be found in this limestone cave. In this ancient lake preserved fossils tell us a lot about the past and provide an insight to the changes that happened over the years to the prehistoric landscape.

High cave ceilings with limestone stalactites and a natural archway lead to the green interior of a huge sinkhole.  The sinkhole is a natural amphitheatre carved by groundwater and eroded by the elements.

In 1999 Restoration efforts of Makauwahi Cave Reserve began to bring back native plants to the area.  Since that time, nearly 5,000 native and Polynesian plants have been reintroduced to this landscape by using the fossil record as a guide to plant choices. With the help of volunteers, students and staff, many of the scarce species of plants have been planted here and the seeds and cuttings are also used for other native plant restorations around the island.  Through generous donations and efforts to protect and restore this special place, the Makauwahi Cave Reserve is a must see for visitors of all ages when on the island of Kauai.

All information in this post comes from the brochures and website provided by Makauwahi Cave Reserve.    The information being shared is being used to highlight one of Kauai’s exclusive Visitors Attraction for kids to Learn and Discover Kauai’s Past and Present.   For more detailed information visit www.cavereserve.org 

We encourage visitors to donate to the Makauwahi Cave Reserve and their restoration efforts.


Note: Maha’ulepu Road is closed and parking is at the CJM Stables where it is a ten minute walk to your destination.




Makauwahi Cave Trail

When visiting Makauwahi Cave Trail there are 19 posts along the trail

  1. Makauwahi Cave Reserve
  2. Pila’s Point
  3. Offshore Excitement
  4. On top of the Cave
  5. Native “Rock Garden” Plants
  6. Rare Dry Forest Habitat
  7. Rim Trail
  8. View From Cliff
  9. Haole Koa and other invaders
  10. Hawane or Loulu Palm
  11. Restoration History
  12. Sinkhole Overlook
  13. “Soft” Restoration
  14. Trail Junction
  15. North Cave Entrance
  16. Milo Patch
  17. Estuary
  18. View of Haupu Ridge
  19. Lida’s Field of Dreams


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