WEB GUIDE: THE UNOFFICIAL GUIDE TO KOKE'E, KAUA'I

(LEAVE KOKEE ALONE)

Scroll down, or use this Table of Contents:
[Description] [Directions] [Driving/Vehicle] [Weather] [Sightseeing] [Picnicking] [Museum] [Restaurant] [Lodgings] [Camping] [Hiking] [Flora] [Fauna] [Bird Watching] [Fishing] [Hunting] [Commercial Tours] [Bike Rides] [Events/Activities] [NASA Observatory] [Leasehold Cabins] [Kokee Links] [Kokee Photos] [Virtual Tour]


DESCRIPTION

Koke'e means "to bend," and it is a cool, mountainous State Park encompassing 4345 acres and containing 45 miles of trails on the island of Kauai. Koke'e State Park has beautiful scenery and many things to do and explore.

(EDITORIAL NOTE: Since the early 2000's, the State of Hawaii has been preparing a Kokee Master Plan to make improvements and generate revenues for such improvements. As of 2007, the proposal and its various updates have been met with strong community resistance and some lawsuits. Kokee is recognized as a unique natural resource, and its value will be preserved only if it remains as is, with normal maintenance. Please leave Kokee alone.)


DIRECTIONS

Koke'e is accessed from the extreme west end of the island of Kauai and is approximately 90 minutes from centrally located Lihue Airport. From Lihue, take Kaumualii Highway (Route 50) to either Waimea (23 miles, 40 minutes) or Kekaha (26 miles, 45 minutes). From there, two roads are available up the mountain to Koke'e. From Waimea, take Waimea Canyon Drive (Route 550). Or from Kekaha, take Koke'e Road (Route 552).

The drive from Waimea or Kekaha up the mountain to Koke'e is approximately 30 minutes of winding and "bending," and for those prone to car-sickness, there are many quiet turn-off areas where you can contribute to the lushness of Koke'e's vegetation.


DRIVING/VEHICLE

There are numerous rent-a-car firms at Lihue Airport. If you plan to explore the dirt roads and trails of Kokee, a 4-wheel drive vehicle is recommended. Don't go exploring wet, dirt roads unless you have a 4-wheel drive vehicle. If you plan to go sightseeing only, a sedan is perfect.


WEATHER

At 4000 feet elevation, Koke'e State Park is very cool and can get rainy during the winter. In the summer, shorts and t-shirts are fine, but bring warm clothing just in case. A good pair of jogging/walking shoes is a must for exploring the wilderness. For campers, temperatures can drop into the 30-40s, so warm clothing (or a companion) is a must. If the island is experiencing bad weather, Koke'e will be worse. Call 1.808.245.6001 for recorded weather information.


SIGHTSEEING

Kalalau

Kalalau Lookout
Kalalau Valley, pictured in many postcards, can be viewed at the Kalalau Lookout and the Puu O Kila Lookout, at the end of Koke'e Road on the top of the mountain. Rolling fog sometimes obscures the view, so consider yourself lucky if you get a clear viewing day.

Puu O Kila Lookout
The second Kalalau Valley lookout, at the end of Koke'e Road on the top of the mountain. Also the start of Pihea Trail.

Puu Hinahina Lookout
View the ocean west and southwest of Kaua'i, and see Ni'ihau, "The Forbidden (except by helicopter) Island."

Waimea

Waimea Canyon Lookout
"The Grand Canyon of the Pacific," the reason why people drive up to Koke'e. It is ten miles long, a mile wide, and over 3600 feet deep. This postcard picture site and Kalalau Valley are the two must stops for any visitor.


PICNICKING

First Pavilion
First rest stop as you reach Koke'e, located on the left side of Koke'e Road. Small pavilions, pay phone and restrooms. Across the road are spectacular views of Waimea Canyon.

Kalalau Lookout
There are restrooms and a few picnic tables, but it is higher up, and colder and wetter. (See also SIGHTSEEING, Kalalau Lookout)

Koke'e State Park
The best place for your picnic basket, at mile marker 15. Extensive picnic sites, pavilions, restrooms, grills, grassy park meadow, camping facilities, Ranger Station, Koke'e Museum, and restaurant.


KOKEE MUSEUM

Koke'e Natural History Museum is the oldest museum in the state. Small, interesting museum located at the Koke'e State Park at mile marker 15. Excellent maps and hiking information available. Gift shop with books, local crafts, and T- Shirts for sale, eg. "May The Forest Be With You." The museum sponsors guided hikes in Koke'e State Park from June through September, and an Audubon Bird Count every January. (1.800.335.9975)


RESTAURANT

Koke'e Lodge, located at the Koke'e State Park next to the museum, serves breakfast and lunch. Enjoy the cozy fireplace and sundry shop. (1.800.335.6061).


LODGINGS

Camp Sloggett
YWCA camp (1.808.335.6060).

Kokee Hongwanji Camp
Barracks-style cabin for rental by the general public (1.808.332.9563).

Koke'e Lodge
Kokee Lodge has quaint, cozy cabins with fireplaces, in walking distance to the restaurant, sundry shop, and museum. Rates are $35-$45 per night. (1.808.335.6061)

TENT CAMPING

All tent camping requires permits available at the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) at the State Building in Lihue, 3060 Eiwa Street, Room 306, during normal work week hours. (1.808.274.3444)

Hipalau
Head down into the depths of Waimea Canyon via Kukui Trail, then take Koaie Canyon Trail, and backpack camping is allowed by permit only at Hipalau and Lonomea. (See HIKING).

Kawaikoi Camp
Located off Mohihi-Camp 10 Road, about .75 miles past the Na Pali-Kona Forest Reserve boundary. Near Sugi Grove Camp. Camping allowed by permit only. (See HIKING).

Koaie Stream
Camping is allowed by permit only at Koaie Stream gauge, accessed by Mohihi Trail (see HIKING). Usually used by hunters.

Koke'e State Park
Koke'e State Park campgrounds have the most amenities, and the most people. Temperatures can drop to 30-40 degrees at night, with frequent rain, so be prepared. The campgrounds are in walking distance to restrooms, pavilions, grills, and restaurant.

Lonomea
Head down into the depths of Waimea Canyon via Kukui Trail, then take Koaie Canyon Trail, and backpack camping is allowed by permit only at Hipalau and Lonomea. (See HIKING).

Sugi Grove Camp
Located off Mohihi-Camp 10 Road, about .75 miles past the Na Pali-Kona Forest Reserve boundary. Near Kawaikoi Camp. Camping allowed by permit only. (See HIKING).


HIKING


FLORA

Permits are required for the removal of plant material. Please check with State Forestry Division, 1.800.274.3433.

Banana Poka
Passiflora mollissima, or banana poka, is a vine that wraps itself around trees. It will eventually kill the tree by covering it and depriving it of sunlight. Since it a is a Passaflora and a relative of passion fruit, a biological control, in the form of a fungus or insect, has not been employed in its control. On Kaua'i, where banana poka is widespread, passion fruit is grown as a commercial crop, and it is feared that what attacks banana poka will also damage the passion fruit. The only control for the plant is to physically remove the vine from the trees. In order to promote this, the Koke'e Museum sponsors the Banana Poka Festival in May of each year. Those who attend are taught how to pull vines from the trees and how weave them into baskets. The purple flowers are attractive and the seed-bearing, banana-shaped fruit is a food source for birds and wild pigs. Banana poka is a very competitive weed.

Lantana
Lantana is a large spreading shrub forming woody dense thickets, it grows up to three meters in height and can be vine like climbing up into trees. It is very well known that Lantana has a tendency to over grow native plants smothering them and forming a monoculture environment.

Lilikoi
Known as passion fruit, this tropical fruit is said to be named not for the passionate propensity it promotes but because particular parts of the plant's flowers resemble different symbols of Christ's crucifixion, such as the crown of thorns. Though native to Brazil, passion fruit (also called granadilla ) is now also grown in Australia, California, Florida, Hawaii (where it's called lilikoi) and New Zealand. The most common variety marketed in the United States is egg-shaped and about 3 inches long. When ripe, it has a dimpled, deep-purple skin and a soft, golden flesh generously punctuated with tiny, edible black seeds. The flavor is seductively sweet-tart and the fragrance tropical and perfumy. Fresh passion fruit is available from March through September in Latin markets and some supermarkets. Choose large, heavy, firm fruit with a deep-purple color. Store ripe passion fruit in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. It can be served plain as a dessert or used to flavor a variety of foods like sauces, ice creams and beverages. Canned passion-fruit nectar is available in many supermarkets. Passion fruit contains a small amount of vitamins A and C. (From THE FOOD LOVER'S COMPANION, 2nd edition, by Sharon Tyler Herbst, Barron's Educational Services, Inc.)

Maile
This green, fragrant vine is stripped from the stem and is a favorite for making leis.

Mokihana
The mokihana is a native tree that grows only on Kauai. It has tiny, anise-scented berries that are strung like beads in a lei, usually with the maile vine.

Plum, Methley
Methley Plums are small, red, and sweet, and plum season usually starts around the Fourth of July, with a limit of 5 pounds per person.

Poha
Known as the cape gooseberry, this intriguing berry grows wild in many locations throughout the continental United States, it's generally cultivated in tropical zones such as Hawaii, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, India and China. At first glance the cape gooseberry (also called golden berry, ground cherry, physalis and poha ), with its inflated, papery skin (calyx), looks somewhat like a Chinese lantern. The bittersweet, juicy berries that hide inside the calyx are opaque and golden in color. To use the berries, peel back the parchment like husk and rinse. Because of their piquant aftertaste, cape gooseberries go nicely with meats and other savory foods. They're wonderful in pies, jams and all by themselves. Imported cape gooseberries are available from March to July. Look for those with a bright golden color; green berries are not ripe. Cape gooseberries are high in vitamin C. (From THE FOOD LOVER'S COMPANION, 2nd edition, by Sharon Tyler Herbst, Barron's Educational Services, Inc.)


FAUNA

(See also HUNTING)

Bat
The Hoary Bat, Hawaii's only native land mammal, is a rare sight, and can be seen at dusk.

Birds
'I'iwi: Picture of rare, red Vestiaria coccinea photographed by Jim Denny.

Moa: The Hawaiian chicken rules Koke'e State Park. Must be lousy eating.


BIRD WATCHING

Audubon Bird Count
Every January, sponsored by the Koke'e Natural History Museum (1.800.335.9975).

Terran Tours
Offers one to three day tours of the isolated Alakai Swamp where native or endangered birds can be spotted. (1.808.335.3313).

Birding Hotspots
Alakai, Pihea, Kawaikoi Stream, Awaawapuhi, and Nualolo


FISHING

Crayfish
Tie a raw chicken bone or other bait on a string and catch crayfish at Puulua Reservoir, at mile marker 12, on the left side of Koke'e Road heading up. Keep flushing the water for 2-3 days, cook in your favorite crab boil, and you're on Bourbon Street.

Trout
Catch trout at Puulua Reservoir. Seasonal fishing during August and September, license required. Kawaikoa Stream is also a popular trout fishing area.


HUNTING

Black-Tailed Deer
Introduced from Oregon in 1961.

Goats
Introduced by explorer George Vancouver in 1792.

Pigs
Introduced by early Polynesian settlers.


COMMERCIAL TOURS

Kauai Mountain Tours
All day Koke'e tours in a 4-wheel drive.

Kauai Nature Tours
Waimea Canyon and mountain forest tours by experienced guides.


BIKE RIDES

Kauai Coasters
At sunrise, coast 12 scenic miles down Koke'e Road from Waimea Canyon Lookout to Kekaha on classic-style bikes featuring drum brakes and jel seats. They provide all of the necessary equipment, a continental breakfast, and informative tips. (1.800.639.2412)

Outfitters Kauai
Breakfast, then bike down the 12 miles of Kokee Road in the early morning when there is little traffic. A local guide leads you while a van follows for protection. (1.808.742.7421) (Star Bulletin newspaper story)


EVENTS AND ACTIVITIES

Alien Weed Eradication
Resource Conservation Program using community volunteers to eradicate alien weeds.

Banana Poka Festival
Basket-weaving and crafts festival designed to find productive uses for Banana Poka, a vine pest. Billions and billions of uses, but do not smoke it. Although named Banana Poka, its not related to the banana and it doesn't dance. Koke'e State Park (1.800.335.9975).

Kokee Museum Events

Koke'e Weedbuster Workday
Volunteers needed, usually on Saturdays, to clear invasive plants from native forest areas. Tools and training provided. Meet at Koke'e CCC Camp and bring raingear, lunch, and drinking water. Brownies provided. Call Kate at 1.800.335.0924 or email kokee.net

Summer Guided Hiking
Wonder Walks, short guided hikes sponsored by the Kokee Natural History Museum.


NASA OBSERVATORY

NASA's Koke'e Park Geophysical Observatory. (1.800.335.6495)


STATE LEASEHOLD CABINS

Kokee

Kokee

The State of Hawaii leases lots with unique, lessee-built cabins, for twenty year terms. The current lease expires in 2006. The lease prohibits permanent residency. In 2005, the State Department of Land & Natural Resources is considering several options for dispostion of these cabins, including ending the long-term lease program and using the cabins for day-to-day rentals. Many of the long-term lessees, especially those who originally built the cabins which have been in the family for decades, are complaining because they must either remove the improvements or lose it to the State. Due to litigation, the State will extend the leases on a month to month basis until the lawsuit is resolved. In 2008, the State adopted Act 223 which allows direct negotiation with existing lessees at market rates for 20 year terms.


KOKEE LINKS

"Assessment of the Suitability of Kokee Park Streams as Habitat for Year-Round Catch and Release Fishing For Rainbow Trout Without Annual Stocking"
Official PDF report by the State Department of Land and Natural Resources.

Hiking Kokee
Short article from June 2000 Sunset Magazine.

Kokee Leaseholders Association
Newsletter and activity guide.

Kokee Museum Newspaper Article
A 1982 Honolulu Advertiser newspaper article by Judith Nede about Kokee Museum.

Kokee State Park
Wikipedia article, with hiking trail information.

Trout Fishing Koaie Stream
July 22, 2003 fly fishing story by Deane Gonsalves.

Waimea Canyon
Steve Leroux took 6 hours to ride his bicycle from Kekaha up to Waimea Canyon and still had enough strength to take the most beautiful photos of Waimea Canyon.

Waimea Canyon and Kokee State Park
Comprehensive park description by L.L. Bean Outdoors Online.

Wildernet - Kokee State Park
Detailed descriptions for 28 outdoor activities.


KOKEE PHOTOS

(NOTE: To enlarge, click magniying glass at top tight. To download, click Download tab at center.)

Kumuwela Lookout (11-07-08)
Waipoo Falls (11-07-08)


VIRTUAL TOUR (YouTube Videos)

Kalalau Valley Lookout (2/6/07)
Kalalau Valley Lookout (5/31/07)
Waimea Canyon (2/18/07)
Waipoo Falls (7/31/07)


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