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There are so many great sites to see along Kuamo'o Road which turns into Waikoko Forest Management Road just past the Keahua Forest Arboretum. If you are looking for something to do with the Jeep you rented, you can take the road all the way to Mt Wai'ale'ale and see Blue Hole. Don't use a car without high clearance past the Jurassic Park Gate. (The road condition often is very poor even for a Jeep!)
Take Highway 56 north from Lihu'e toward Wailua. After crossing the Wailua Bridge, turn left on Kuamo'o Road at Mile Marker #6. (Opaeka’a Falls turnoff sign) Coco Palms is located on the corner. The Historic Sites are on the left side of the road. Opaeka'a Falls Lookout is approximately 1 1/2 miles. Keahua Arboretum is approximately 8 miles.
The Coco Palms opened in 1953 and was the oldest hotel on the Garden Isle of Kaua` i, and was the world's most famous Polynesian resort. Elvis Presley filmed the finale of his film "Blue Hawaii" there in 1961, immortalizing its lush coconut groves and picturesque lagoons. When Hurricane Iniki struck in September 1992, the Coco Palms was shut down.
heiau (ancient Hawaiian religious temple)
Kalaeokamanu Heiau is on the north side of the river along Kuamo'o Road, just beyond the old Coco Palms Hotel. Nearby are the royal birthstones. Poli'ahu Heiau, a large war temple over an acre in size, sits on a bluff on the north bank of the Wailua River near Opaeka'a Falls. All the sites are listed on the state and national registers of historic places. A series of interpretive signs near the Poli'ahu Heiau describe archaeological sites along the river.
Opaeka’a Falls is located off the north branch of the Wailua River. The overlook off Kuamo'o Road provides an excellent and safe viewing area. The falls are approximately 150 tall and flow year-round.
Be sure and cross the road to the Wailua River overlook. Below you will see kayaks and river boats which go to the Fern Grotto. The Fern Grotto, accessible only by a short boat trip up the Wailua River, is one of Kaua` i's signature attractions. Here you will enter a cave cloaked with ferns and cooled by the mists of a waterfall. Wailua River is the only navigable river in all Hawaii.
You will also see the Kamokila Hawaiian Village. It was also the place where Kaumualii, King of Kauai, assembled his war canoes.
The Keahua Forest Arboretum has monkey pod, mango, and fragrant eucalyptus trees. Picnic tables and pavilions are scattered throughout the area. Several streams and freshwater pools that feed into the Wailua River flow nearby and provide a cool relaxing area to swim and frolic. There are several trails, such as the Kuilau Ridge Trail and Powerline Trail, start or pass by here, as well as the trail through the arboretum. This road begins your trip to Mount Waialeale and Blue Hole.
Just past the arboretum, the Powerline Trail is aptly named as it follows the transmission lines that carry electricity from the power plant in the south shore to the communities on the north shore. Bringing you about halfway up the side of Mount Waialeale, you will enjoy incredible vistas usually reserved for those willing to fork over big bucks to take a helicopter tour. The trail is basically a muddy road which hunters and utility crews use so be careful. The trail is about 13 miles long and ends at the Princeville Ranch Stables.
About half way to the Jurassic Gate you will come to this second water crossing. Be advised that at times the water can flow over the road. Take this opportunity to stop and look around. There were trees towering 100’ overhead covered in vines and ferns. There were picnic tables also set beside the stream. Sometimes when the water is down, visitors can take advantage of the cool water and have a picnic.
Next you will find the entrance to where the movie Jurrasic Park Gate was built in 1993. The road to the gate is through the rainforest on the Waikoko Forest Management Road and is extremely rough and rutted. Hawaii Movie Tours aptly describes this portion of the tour. "Deep into Kauai's interior, driving thru rivers and streams, this breathtaking journey will take you back in time. In addition to the seclusion of this drive, you learn about and see Kauai's rich flora."
At the end of the road you will come to another steam and small damn. There is a nice parking area for those who want to hike up to Blue Hole. Blue Hole is at the base of Mt. Waialeale, which is known as one of the wettest place on earth. 'Blue Hole' is what the locals call this spot but is not a hole, but rather a large pool fed by two streams and a waterfall. Blue Hole rests just outside the cylindrical cavity of an old extinct volcano. The view before you offers 2000-foot vertical walls draped with waterfalls. This is the spot where the waterfalls converge into a river. The trail to Blue Hole was not very defined and very overgrown. Along the way you will find lots of helicopters flying above and below you at different points.
If you don’t want to take the road from the arboretum up to the Jurassic Park Gate and Blue Hole, you can park and across the street is the Kuilau Ridge Trail. This two mile trail (one way) starts about 100 yards from the Keahua Forestry Arboretum and runs along the Kuilau ridge to the start of the Moalepe Trail (The trail changes name in the middle of a bridge over a mountain stream). The trail starts out on a gradual incline well maintained pathway and passes through thick forests. The trail provides breathtaking scenery. This is one of the easiest trails to hike on Kauai. You'll hike up to some picnic tables, but keep going because after these the trail zig zags through paradise! Wind your way past grassy hillsides, dewy bushes, white egrets circling overhead, and lush areas of vegetation, including fields of ferns. You'll see Mt. Wai'ale'ale in the distance, usually with waterfalls pouring off its sides. At some points you'll catch glimpses of Kapa'a and Lihue.