Kōloa is the site of Hawaii’s first major sugar plantation. Often nicknamed Old Kōloa Town, the village retains much of its 19th-century character, with old-fashioned storefronts and quaint galleries lining the main road, and stunning beaches nearby.
If you’re feeling energetic, rent bikes and cycle the 2 miles (3 kilometers) from Old Kōloa Town to the oceanfront. Poipu Beach offers a clean shoreline and calm waters ideal for young children. Head a little further out to surf world-class waves and keep an eye out for humpback whales and dolphins, which are frequently spotted offshore. Sign up for a scuba-diving lesson and dive through coral gardens with sea turtles and tropical fish.
You don’t have to head to the ocean to enjoy the area’s waterfront attractions. Go kayaking or rafting along the Wailua River and enjoy the rain forest landscape as you glide along with the current. If boating isn’t your style, then take a zip-line tour to explore the landscape from a bird’s-eye point of view. Unwind after the excitement at one Kōloa’s spas, which offer massages and other treatments amid the region’s iconic rain forest setting.
Many of the resorts host luaus throughout the week. Luaus provide a chance to experience local culture, with dancing and a traditional feast. If you’d prefer a more low-key dinner, enjoy fresh-caught seafood at one of the restaurants in Old Kōloa Town. Satisfy your sweet tooth at Lappert’s Ice Cream, a local establishment selling fresh-made ice cream that uses regional ingredients. The town features mellow nightlife with plenty of bars and pubs, but those looking for glitzy nightclubs will be disapointed.
Kōloa and Poipu border one another, so it’s easy to enjoy the attractions in both towns. Learn more about the region’s history with a walk along the Kōloa Heritage Trail. Stretching between Kōloa and Poipu, the 10-mile (16-kilometer) path is dotted with informational plaques that enable a self-guided tour through the tropical landscape.
Kōloa is a 30-minute drive southwest of Lihue Airport. Public transport is limited, so rent a car, motorbike or bicycle to get the most out of your visit.