On the sunny South Shore of Kaua‘i there lies a whale encased in stone, forever trapped upon the shore, bellowing his desire to return to the nearby waters with every incoming wave.
Okay, not really. But the Spouting Horn “blowhole” in the Koloa District of southern Kaua‘i evokes an easy comparison with the island’s migrating humpback whale population, and is an excellent vantage point for whale watching during the winter months. When waves are high – which is most days – the blowhole spouts geysers of salt water 50 feet high, creating dazzling rainbows and refractions of the late afternoon sun. Formed by centuries of natural wave action eroding a chamber beneath the coastal lava shelf, the Spouting Horn blowhole is a natural chimney in the ancient lava rock. When the underwater chamber fills, the waterspout erupts through the rocky shoreline with each incoming set of waves, a visual spectacle for all to behold.
The Legend of the Spouting Horn in Kauai
The Hawaiian myth for the Spouting Horn in Kauai doesn’t involve a whale, but rather a giant lizard named Kaikapu. Tired of the lizard terrorizing the local fishing grounds, a boy named Liko put an end to his antics by diving into the water and luring him away from Kukuiula Bay. When Kaikapu attacked, Liko wedged a stick into the lizard’s mouth and escaped his clutches by swimming to the surface through the blowhole chimney in the coastal shelf. Enraged, Kaikapu gave chase and became stuck in the underwater chamber. His hissing breath and angry roars can be heard to this day.
NOTE: Kaikapu was probably even more upset when the original blowhole – whose fractured opening is still visible beside the current spout – was dynamited by a local sugar plantation owner to stop the jets of saltwater from damaging their nearby crop downwind.
Visiting the Blowhole
Access to the Spouting Horn in Kauai is limited to a scenic overlook at Spouting Horn Park, as ocean conditions, wet rocks, and the violent geysers pose a safety risk. Excellent views can be head from the park’s headlands however, and the grounds are perfect for a short seaside stroll. Ample parking is available, and local artisans are often on hand selling local delicacies and treasures. To get there, take Highway 50 south from Līhu‘e and turn onto Maluhia Road (HI-520) and pass through the famed “Tree Tunnel” on your way to Koloa. After Koloa town, continue on Lawa`i Road as it follows the coast west to the park, passing Kukuiula Bay along the way.