Highway 580, Lihue, HI 96756 – Get Directions
This place is awesome!
This is by far my kids' favorite place to visit on Kauai. If you are staying in Kapaa or Lihue, this is just a quick drive along the river to one of the best kept secrets on the island. How to get there? Turn west on Kuamoo Road and just keep driving. Eventually the road comes to a river and you have two choices - park the car in the dirt lot to the left or drive across the river and park in the lot on the other side. If you are in a 4 wheel drive vehicle you can continue along the path in the forest reserve (check you rental car agreement, some restrict this road).
So, when I ask my kids what do we do when we come to the river - we drive across it of course. This is the start of their awesome adventure. After that, we park, and start walking. Head across the little concrete bridge, follow the path through the painted trees and up the hill and back down and you come to the best jump pond in the area. My daughter brings her float ring and loves to wade out into the jump pond and just kick around. Except for the center that has been dug out, she can touch in many places and is at little risk of floating into the next part of the river because of a well constructed rock "beaver dam", as the kids call it. As for my son, he takes off with his toys and starts hunting for tiny toads hiding among the rocks. After a while he moves to his next activity of setting up his toys and building little "houses" out of the rocks and creating his own city. We can easily spend 4 hours just playing in and alongside the river - looking at the tadpoles and toads, swimming, splashing, hunting for sticks and leaves, and of course throwing a rock or two in the river.
FYI - the neat trees you see as you are walking in are called Painted Gum Trees.
What to pack / What to know:
Take a picnic lunch, water, and snacks.
Pack a change of clothes for the kids and "river shoes" - I suggest wear a pair of sneakers in and change into water shoes at the river or go barefoot. We wander all over the place after the kids are done in the river and having dry shoes is a must.
Pack a towel or two (everyone can share).
Take pool toys - water wings, float rings, noodles, fun place to practice with snorkels and masks too
Camera of course.
Sunscreen and bug spray - there are mosquitoes.
Trash bag - there are trashcans along the road, but if you are eating by the river or in the grassy areas you will appreciate having a trash bag.
Plastic bag for wet clothes, towels, shoes.
If you aren't familiar with the different trees and plants on the island, you might want to do a little bit of reading ahead of time - the really special trees and plants aren't labelled.
There are bathrooms but they are not close to where the kids are going to want to play - but you will walk past them on the way to the awesome part of the river.
The kids will likely get a bit muddy.
If you drove across the river and it starts to rain more than a sprinkle - go move your car back to the other side of the river (or call it for the day). The river can go up really fast, but it also goes down pretty fast.
Fun with the Family
The thirty-acre Keahua Arboretum is no doubt one of the best-kept secrets on the island—hardly anyone ventures up here. In the mountains above Wailua, the arboretum features pools that beg to be jumped into and bubbling streams perfect for wading and exploring. The surrounding forests are so green they almost look more like a painting than real life. There’s even a rope swing where kids, and kids at heart, can grab hold, take a flying leap, give a Tarzan yell, and plop into the stream. There is a series of trails within the arboretum, or you can walk upstream and explore what will seem like uncharted territory.