Kaua‘i is world-renowned for its natural beauty, so you might be surprised to learn that it is also home to several excellent Kaua’i museums. Highlighting natural and cultural history, technology, and architecture, Kaua‘i’s museums offer a wonderful variety of enriching educational experiences for the whole family.
Prior to European contact and the introduction of the sugar cane industry, life was very different in the Hawaiian Islands. At the Kaua‘i Museum, you can step back in time to ancient Hawaiian days and learn how the Hawaiian people lived, played, and worshipped. Exhibits encapsulate a journey from pre-contact days on Kaua‘i through the tumultuous sugar cane plantation era, pre-and post-annexation days, World War II, and beyond. As one of the finest collection of antiquities on Kaua‘i, the Kaua‘i Museum is well worth visiting.
Grove Farm Sugar Plantation Museum
On Kaua‘i, sugar cane was king for over 150 years. The dogged determination of George Wilcox, a missionary son who in 1864 acquired the 900 acres of land that became Grove Farm, resulted in a thriving sugar plantation. Today, the old plantation buildings and residences have been lovingly restored, and though there is no more sugar cane industry on Kaua‘i, Grove Farm is still active. Grove Farm Sugar Plantation Museum houses a wealth of exhibits harkening back to old plantation days, and also offers numerous interactive learning opportunities.
Wai‘oli Mission House
Located on the Grove Farm property is the Wai‘oli Mission House, built by Reverend William Alexander in 1836. It was here that the Native Hawaiian population of Kaua‘i was introduced to a phonetically developed written Hawaiian language, scholastics, and Christianity. In 1846 missionary teachers Abner and Lucy Wilcox arrived in Hanalei and established three schools at the Wai‘oli Mission Station. The Wai‘oli Mission House was restored in 1921, and this Kaua’i history museum houses the original furnishings and artifacts of Kaua‘i’s missionary period.
Koke‘e Natural History Museum
Up at 4,000 feet in elevation in beautiful Koke‘e State Park you will find the Koke‘e Museum. Dedicated to preserving the natural history of Kaua‘i’s Hawaiian culture, flora and fauna, the Koke‘e Museum offers visitors valuable insight into the fragile endemic ecosystem of Kaua‘i. The Koke‘e Museum is also a great place to plan your visit to Waimea Canyon, with maps of the numerous hiking trails that lace the area, books about Waimea and Koke‘e, and much more.
Kōloa History Center
Just above Po‘ipū rests the tiny village of Kōloa, the site of Hawai‘iʻs first sugar cane plantation. At the Kōloa History Center you can get a glimpse into early plantation life through this Kaua’i history museum’s excellent collection of photographs and artifacts. Kōloaʻs original plantation buildings have been painstakingly restored, with plaques in front of each building imparting the history of the structures and the people who worked and resided in them.