On some days, we didn’t have a specific activity or destination in mind, so we just poked around. Some of us attended church, then we all visited the Kauai Coffee Estate, the Fort Elizabeth State Historical Park, and we ended our day at the Spouting Horn Blowhole.
Old Koloa Church
The history of the Old Koloa Church dates back to when missionaries first arrived in Kauai in 1820 and when Reverend Peter Gulick established the first mission in Koloa in 1834. Native grass houses served as meeting spaces until the mission constructed its first meeting house in 1837. Destroyed during a storm in 1858, the church was reconstructed and opened its doors in 1860. The congregation was formally organized in October 1923 as the Koloa Union Church and occupied the building until it moved next door in 1953. Pastors Harold and Christy Kilborn have led the current congregation at The Church at Koloa since 1981. Inside, the architecture is cozy and welcoming, as are the congregants and the pastors.
Kauai Coffee Estate
On a visit to Kauai Coffee Estate, we learned the estate operates the largest coffee farm in the US. Not just in the State of Hawaii, but the entire US. We took the self-guided tour around the visitor center where there were places to stop and read information signs that talk about growing and preparing the coffee for packaging. After our walk, we purchased a pound of roasted beans to take home and bowls of ice cream to eat on the patio at the back of the visitor center. It seemed only right to choose coffee ice cream at a coffee estate. My first bite stirred memories of sitting with my grandmother on her front porch after dinner, digging into a bowl of coffee ice cream, and watching the sun set behind the houses across the street. Ah memories. What would we do without them?
The estate did not always grow coffee. For over 100 years, sugarcane stretched from Koloa in the south to Kalaheo in the west. Plantings of coffee trees began in 1987 and now total 4 million. One tree grows one pound of coffee a year. I wish we could have squeezed two pounds of roasted beans into our luggage.
Among the coffee trees, we found a noni (Morinda citrifolia) tree, a member of the coffee family. With an odor so strong, the noni fruit may make one gag. Despite its awful stench, it’s believed to have health benefits and is often made into a beverage, powders, lotions, or soaps. Oil is made from the seeds and the leaves are ground to a powder and encapsulated into pills. Not enough fresh food to eat? Substitute noni as emergency food during famines. I hope I never have to resort to such a substitute.
Ranchers brought 105 Cattle Egrets to Kauai in 1959 to control insects pestering their cattle. Today, they are the pest raiding the nests of Hawaiian duck, stilt, and other birds. In 2017, the state issued a control order calling for the culling of the birds from a population of over 30,000. Unintended consequences have the egrets running amok on the island.
Pa’ula’ula/Fort Elizabeth State Historical Park
There’s not too much to see at this state park that we could find. There are information panels that tell the history of the site with a map of what the Russian fort looked like, a rock wall, and a statue. We walked around the wall searching for the opening to the center and instead found the coastline.
On our way back to the car, we guessed the wall outlined the fort, and I neglected to take a photo. Was the entry blocked or hidden? Had we missed the opening? Then I noticed the statue across the field from the parking lot. It looked new and well tended.
The Russian Fort Elizabeth State Historical Park was designated a National Historical Landmark in 1962 and the State of Hawaii acquired the property in 1972. On the Fort Elizabeth.org website, they list plans for the 17-acre site, including a visitor center. One of their plans was to honor King Kaumuali‘i, the last king in Kauai, with an 8’ bronze statue. This we found.
The king faces toward the setting sun on the day of the spring equinox, allowing him to enjoy the sunset of the winter solstice to his left and the summer solstice to his right. A small and large crescent in the floor pattern represents moon phases and the past and present.
I hope to come back once the center opens to welcome visitors and learn more about the fort, the king and all the historical figures that set foot on the site. For more information, visit the websites at National Park Service (https://www.nps.gov/places/russian-fort-fort-elizabeth.htm) and Fort Elizabeth (http://www.fortelizabeth.org).
Spouting Horn Blowhole
The Spouting Horn blowhole is a popular tourist stop. Whether they are walking, riding a bike, in a car, or on a bus, they come to take photos. Since this is one of the most photographed spots in Kauai, I joined in and set my camera on continuous shooting to capture the action. It was thrilling to watch the surf crash into the rocky shore and spout up through a hole in the rock like a geyser in Yellowstone. The gushers can reach up to 50 feet, depending on the tide level.
The hiss and roar that the water makes as it squeezes through a lava tube is the basis of the Hawaiian legend of Kaikapu, a giant moo, or lizard. There are multiple versions of the legend, as is common with legends. Was Liko a young boy who tricked Kaikapu, or was he a fisherman?
Whoever he was, he stabbed or speared Kaikapu in the mouth, swam under the lava shelf, and escaped through a lava tube. Kaikapu followed and got stuck in the tube. It is his moans and groans that create the hiss and roar. Or it could be her, depending on the legend. Who knows for sure?
More to come in episode 5. See you then.
Updated: August 20, 2022, to correct wording under the Old Koloa Church heading.