We have visited the island of Kaua’i many times, without ever hearing that there was a prehistoric cave that attracted visitors and researchers from all over the world. According to the visitor’s handout, this cave “is itself a huge fossil, formed in the heart of an ancient sand dune that turned to stone over the ensuing 400,000 years. Groundwater etched away the limestone and dripping water mantled the walls with flowstone formations. About 7000 years ago the ceiling in the cave’s central room collapsed, leaving behind a freshwater lake in the midst of Hawaii’s largest limestone cave.”
The lake is gone now, but the walls of the cave still stand. If you have ever seen a sinkhole like the cenote in the Yucatan, or the Gouffre du Padirac in the Dordogne region of France, you can imagine this scene: you stand at the bottom of a great round abyss, rock walls going straight up, the sky high above. You can walk a trail that circles the top of the walls and look down into the cave, or you can find a narrow entrance, drop down on your hands and knees (mind your head), and crawl into the cave.
Last March we were on Kaua’i (that’s how it should be spelled) when we heard about the cave and that it was open on Sundays. We decided to visit the amazing site. It wasn’t easy. We left the pavement at the east end of Poipu Road and drove a long way over a deeply rutted dirt track, even longer because we missed an important turn and approached the grounds from a beach. The directions we had were vague. We left our car near a lot of other cars(!), followed a path through some greenery to reach a beach where lots of people were swimming and sunning. We walked along the sand to a stream, turned in-land to follow the stream to a bridge, crossed the bridge, and MADE A WRONG TURN! We should have turned right, which would have taken us to the entrance to the cave. Instead we went left, circled the high rim of the cave and crawled through the tunnel entrance just as the guide was closing up. We had time for just a short visit, to peek into the depths of the cave, and to buy a copy of Back to the Future in the Caves of Kaua’i by David A. Burney.
If you go, you will be better prepared than we were, because you have read my post, and now you know that you can go to: www.cavereserve.org, for more information, or you can email to firstname.lastname@example.org to get on a mailing list for info about the cave.