The beautiful “Garden Isle” of Kauai, one of the outermost islands of Hawaii, offers a quiet and tranquil setting despite being the fourth largest island in the chain. A haven for more than just the locals, Kauai offers miles of hiking opportunities, kayaking adventures, and waterfalls. One of the grand highlights of the island is the wildlife sanctuary. The Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge offers a temporary home to thousands of seabirds and is the permanent home to the Kilauea Point Lighthouse.
Directly east of the Napali Coast, on the shore of Kauai, is a tall cylindrical shaped building. High up on the cliff sits a shining beacon located approximately two miles north of town of Kilauea and within the Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge. The Kilauea Point Lighthouse, once seen from many miles out, was built in 1913 to help commercial sea traffic en route from the Orient to the Hawaiian Islands.
While working on the site for the 52′ tower, it was determined that the rock below the ground surface was not strong enough to support the structure. Since the island of Kauai is known for its volcanic origins, it would make sense that the construction crew dug down 11 feet in order to give the building a stronger base. By doing so, the Kilauea Lighthouse is one of only a few of its kind to have a basement.
Decommissioned in 1976, a more modern and rotating light is now located close to the original structure. Maintained by the U.S. Coast Guard, it was placed on the National Register of Historical Places during the third quarter of 1979. The Kilauea Lighthouse has since been deeded to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Today, the Kilauea Point Natural History Association (KPNHA) is working hard to restore this beautiful lighthouse. Phase I was completed in 2008. The next phase will include repairs to the roof, lantern assembly and the tower. The KPHHA is currently accepting public donations. All contributions will be used for preservation and restoration of the Kilauea Point Lighthouse.
The Wildlife Refuge is home to numerous birds from the Laysan albatross to the rare Nene, the state bird of Hawaii. Depending on the time of the year, humpback whales can be seen off the point along with spinner dolphins and the Hawaiian monk seal. Additionally, this area has restored native flora and given the rare alula plant the chance to repopulate itself. It is currently one of 200 Hawaiian plants on the endangered species list.
With more than a half million visitors yearly, the Wildlife Refuge and Lighthouse are open daily from 10am – 4pm and closed on federal holidays. Drive north on the Kuhio Highway to the town of Kilauea and turn right on Kolo Road then left on Kilauea Road. Parking is available but limited to smaller vehicles. Please call ahead to (808) 828-1413 if planning a large bus group of 20 or more as they are not allowed without prior permission. A $5.00/fee per person ages 16 and above is charged. Children under 16 are free.
Sources: www.fws.gov/kilaueapoint/lighthouse.html, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kauai, www.kilauealighthouse.org/donation.html, www.lighthousefriends.com,