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Historic Kauai.

Historic Kauai

When Captain Cook reached the HawaiianIslands in 1778, it was near Waimea, on the island of Kauai, that he landed. Not quite 60 years later, Kauai became the site of Hawaii's first sugar plantation. Despite these historical "firsts,' Kauai has lagged behind other islands in largescale development of resorts and high-rise hotels. The result is a recipe for successful historic preservation: a rich history, and something left to preserve.

In the past three years, new preservationprojects have appeared on the island's east and south shores; each is the work of a private developer who perceived both commercial as well as esthetic advantage in reconstructing historic sites. They add to Kauai's already impressive collection of historic sites, including Hanalei's 1837 Waioli Mission House and Lihue's Grove Farm Homestead (tours here require reservations at least a week ahead), giving visitors an opportunity to step back in time while exploring this most Hawaiian of the islands. We describe three tour stops and two lodging choices.

Reconstructed Hawaiian village on the banks of the Wailua River

Built on the site of a centuries-old Polynesiansettlement, Kamokila Hawaiian Village is a simple re-creation of an ancient Kauai settlement. Hurricane Iwa devastated the site soon after its opening in 1981; it reopened in June 1985.

Visitors are greeted with demonstrationsof Hawaiian quilting and lei making; guides then spend an hour or more leading small groups through the village.

From Lihue, take State Highway 56north 7 miles. After crossing the Wailua River, turn west on State 580 and continue about 2 miles to the village entrance. Kamokila is open from 9 to 4 Mondays through Saturdays; admission is $5, $1.50 for children under 12.

Kilohana: new life for a 1935 sugar-cane estate

Rarely is a historic home transformedinto a commercial site without losing much of its original flavor. Kilohana is an exception. This centerpiece of the former Wilcox estate has been carefully restored, with slight modifications made to tuck small shops into former bedrooms and offices. The living room has been left intact, however; period furnishings hint of the plantation manager's genteel lifestyle.

Lunch ($6 to $10) and dinner ($17 to$23) are served daily in the courtyard at Gaylord's restaurant. Or take in the nightly plantation cookout ($12 to $17, $8 for ages 10 and under). Shops are open daily from 9:30 to 7. Kilohana is about 2 miles southwest of Lihue on State 50.

On the road to Poipu: Old Koloa Town

Four years ago, Koloa was little morethan a sleepy junction with a few marginal businesses on the road to Poipu Beach. Today those same buildings--restored and freshly painted--house restaurants and boutiques catering to a bustling clientele. Most shops are open 9 to 9 daily.

Plaques on buildings help visitors piecetogether local history. Or hop on the old trolley for a free narrated tour in town or between Koloa and area hotels; call (808) 332-7272 for the schedule.

Lodging for history buffs, in sunny Waimea and in Lihue

The National Trust for Historic Preservation'sMain Street Program is helping merchants in Waimea refurbish storefronts in an effort to revitalize this historic town (and nearby Hanapepe). Free self-guided walking tour brochures pointing out Waimea's historic sites are available at local businesses or at the library. Despite the west side's frequent sunshine, until recently little lodging has been available here. A low-key resort recently began offering accommodations reminiscent of Waikiki before World War II. Waimea Plantation Cottages began by turning old plantation workers' houses into pleasant guest cottages with kitchenettes; more are being built along the palm-lined beach.

The surf here tends to be gentle but muddy;a swimming pool and restaurant are to be completed by January 1988. Nightly rates range from $50 to $80 ($1,100 a week for restored five-bedroom manager's estate); telephone (800) 992-4632.

In Lihue, the 1890 Kauai Inn, the island'sfirst hotel, has been moved to a site overlooking Nawiliwili Bay and is slowly being restored. Renovation of the hotel and construction of a swimming pool should be finished by the end of the year. Meanwhile, the rate for completed rooms is $39; owners say the rates will remain moderate after restoration is complete. All rooms have private baths. For reservations, call (800) 367-8047, ext. 243.

Photo: Inside canoe house at Kamokila, tour guide shows off almost-finished Hawaiian quilt. Around her neck, visitor wears palm-leaf lei bestowed by guide as a welcoming gift

Photo: Lush vegetation gives way to clearing forthatched huts of Kamokila, on Wailua River, one of re-created settlements along Kauai's east and south shores

Photo: Veranda's roof keeps occasional rain off diners at Kilohana.

Clydesdale-drawn buggy letsvisitors tour the estate in style

Photo: Coconut palms hold hammock, filter morning sun at Waimea Plantation Cottages

Photo: Spindly gas pump and 1929 Model A rest outsideKoloa's 1890 general store--now a T-shirt shop
COPYRIGHT 1987 Sunset Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1987 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Date:Jul 1, 1987
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