Wailuku River State Park is a state park located on the eastern side of the Hawaiian island of Kauai. The park consists primarily of the mouth of the river, where it joins the Pacific Ocean, and a few miles inland. It includes several notable sights, including Prince George’s Pond, known as “the Big Pond”, and Kkee State Historical Monument. The park was established in 1970 to protect part of the watershed along the Wailuku River. In addition to native forests, the park contains extensive areas of old-growth bald cypress trees.
There are more than 50 miles (80km) of trails open year round for hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, and leashed pets. There is also an overnight campground with tent sites, yurts, cabins, and lagoons. A new feature added in 2020 allows hikers to use their electronic devices while still being connected to nature through technology-free zones. These include designated sections of trail, freshwater ponds, and forested areas. Wailuku River State Park has become popular among tourists seeking adventure in paradise.
Visitors can explore the rainforest by taking guided walks and hikes led by naturalists, or spend time in one of seven information kiosks scattered throughout the park that offer up-to-date news and events happening around the park. Each June, the park hosts the Waimea Music Festival. This event features local independent musicians who play a variety of styles of music, from traditional Hawaiian to punk rock. During the weeklong festival, there are daily performances by local bands and solo artists, food, drink, and hula dancing. Hula competitions are held during the weekends of the festival. The top three winners from each division then advance to the next level of competition. After two weeks of continuous performance, a winner is crowned king or queen of the festival.
On holidays such as Presidents’ Day and Easter Sunday, the parks department encourages people to wear their pareos (Hawaiian shirts), which are usually only worn on Saturday nights during the summer season, because it’s “Hump day” and not a holiday. On these days, there may be no drumming or singing, but there will always be plenty of hula dancing. Wailuku River State Park offers a number of different programs all year long, ranging from kids classes, to environmental education, to cultural history lessons.
One program even lets visitors create art inspired by the forest using only materials found in the wilds; another promotes sustainable agriculture practices. All of this is made possible by volunteers and staff dedicated to keeping the park clean and beautiful, and making sure that everyone has a positive experience when visiting.Wailuku River State Park receives many accolades, including recognition from the American Automobile Association (AAA) as one of the “World’s Most Beautiful Parks”. According to the AAA, Wailuku River State Park provides scenic beauty, exceptional opportunities for fishing and sunbathing, ample parking, easy access, and friendly service.
Activities available at the park include:
- mountain biking
- playing tennis