When you’re on island time, there’s no need to rush. In the Hawaiian language, “holo holo” means to go out for a stroll or a drive just for pleasure. If you’re looking for a relaxing day trip, head to Kauaʻi’s Holo Holo Koloa scenic byway on the south side of the island. While this byway only spans 19.5 miles, you’ll be treated to beaches, vistas, a “tree tunnel,” and a bounty of historic and cultural sites along the way. So buckle up and get ready for a fun drive that proves cruising is more about the journey than the destination.
Begin by heading south on Kuhio Highway and then make a right on Maluhia Road. You’ll want to be in a convertible or at least put the windows down as you cruise under Maluhia Road’s famous tunnel of eucalyptus trees. These trees are over 100 years old and have been damaged by two hurricanes, but they continue to thrive and provide a stunning canopy over Maluhia Road.
This tunnel will transport you back in time to historic Old Koloa Town, home of Hawaiʻi’s first successful sugar plantation. Quaint plantation buildings have since been carefully restored and turned into shops and restaurants. Stop for lunch, stroll under the monkeypod trees, and check out the Koloa Sugar Monument to learn more about this charming town’s rich heritage.
As you head south from Koloa, you’ll pass several historic landmarks, including Kauaʻi’s oldest public school, two churches, and the Yamamoto Store Courtyard. You’ll want to stop at Prince Kūhiō Park for another interesting slice of Hawaiian history. This park is a monument to Prince Jonah Kūhiō Kalanianaʻole, a member of Hawaiian royalty who served on the U.S. Congress for 10 consecutive terms.. The foundation of his royal home, fishpond and Ho‘ai Heiau is also located at the park, a tranquil tribute to Kaua‘i’s past.
Once you reach the southern shore of Kauai, take your holo holo to Spouting Horn, a scenic blowhole featured in Hawaiian legends. The rush of spouting water is caused by crashing surf colliding with a lava shelf along the coastline, which forces water up through a blowhole in the rocks to dramatic effect. Be sure to observe signs and take in the sights from the protected visitor overlook; while beautiful, the blowhole is also dangerous and visitors shouldn’t get too close. Sunsets are a great time to visit, as the shooting water appears lit up by the colorful sky. This is also a great vantage spot to look for humpback whales from December through May.
Another great place to stop along the Holo Holo Koloa Scenic Byway is the National Tropical Botanical Garden, which is dedicated to preserving tropical plant diversity on the islands. The garden has two stunning properties on the south shore of Kaua`i, and you can’t go wrong with either the McBryde Garden or the Allerton Garden. From golden bamboo and flower gardens to tranquil fountains and tropical fruit trees, you’ll want to opt for a guided tour at these beautiful properties.