We Live To Travel

Makauwahi Cave and the Tortoises

Our neighbours recommended another fun thing for us to do today… It’s very handy having smart neighbours like this 🙂 They suggested we visit Makauwahi Cave, which is not really a cave… it’s a giant sinkhole. It was important to go today, because they are only open on Sundays. This used to be true… now they have more hours. If you are going, look on their Facebook page because it tells you the current days and times they are open. If you go when they are not open you can’t go inside because they lock the little gate.

It is a bit tricky to find, so do your research ahead of time. You need to go straight down the road from Poipu past the Hyatt until you get to the dirt road. Eventually, you will come to a sign for CJM stables… turn into there. Once you are on the road to the stables you will head off to the left before getting to their actual office. This was the part that was confusing for us. I took a picture of the sign where you should turn left. It looks like this:


If you go to the left, you will see cars parked on the dirt road. Just park there and start walking. This is a closer trail to the cave. We went down and parked by the office (because we weren’t exactly sure where to go). Steve asked their permission to park there which was fine with them… the guy working on the landscaping even directed us where to go.

As you are walking this is the beautiful view you will see…


There are some signs on the trail to let you know you are going the right way, but you still have to make decisions when there are not signs. We didn’t get hopelessly lost though 🙂


When you arrive at the sinkhole, you are way at the top looking down into it.


You then have to work your way down and around to get to the little entrance gate. The scenery is quite lush and beautiful. (Including the handsome man I took with me… he always makes the photos prettier 🙂 )


When you get to the entrance to the sinkhole you have to crawl through the little tunnel. They have one of those plastic carpet runners down so you won’t get dirty.


You don’t have to crawl for long, the ceiling raises up within a couple of feet of crawling through.


Once you are in, it looks like this…


There is a guide who will tell you all about the landscape, the folklore, the animals, the history and the archaeological finds.


He was a wealth of information. Of course, I have forgotten almost all of what he said… but it was very interesting at the time 🙂

When he takes you into the cave he has all kinds of artifacts on the table which he explained. One interesting item was a bone from a bird that use to live in the area. He showed it to us compared to the much smaller rooster bone to give us an idea of how big that bird must have been!


Lucky thing Steve took a video, because it just reminded me of this very cool story! There was a child who interviewed a seer who lived in the cave in 1880. He would sit on a platform in the cave. You would come into see him with a question and a handful of leaves. He would throw your leaves in the fire, and the smoke would go up and around in the cave. He would then read your smoke and answer your question. Makauwahi means “eye of the smoke”. They recently found the child’s journal, and this is where they found out what the true name of the cave was! The only way they know the real name is because some child did their homework. Moral of this story… do your homework kids, you never know how important it will be 🙂

He does ask for a donation of $10 per person when he is done, but it is totally up to you how much you leave. When we looked in the box it seemed like most people had been leaving less.

I found this to be a very interesting little expedition. When you are done you can also go to the tortoise reserve which is right outside the sinkhole area.

You will know you are in the right place when you get there because you will see these steps to go in.



Some of the tortoises are just roaming freely and others are in smaller enclosures. I’m not sure why? They are doing scientific research here so I suspect it depends on what they are trying to figure out.

These tortoises were in a smaller enclosure.


Some were wandering freely. The guide from the cave told Steve that the tortoises like to have their heads petted… so of course Steve obliged. 🙂


There were two types of tortoises at this place, neither of which are native to Kauai. These two are native to Madagascar.


They are in their own separate enclosure. The girl who was there told us that they were loose in the main enclosure, but then they noticed the female digging holes… presumably to lay eggs, so they put them in the smaller enclosure so they could study the behaviour. She taught them a lesson though and stopped digging holes!

We also saw tons of baby tortoises ranging in age from about one to three years old. Here is one of the young tortoises. You can tell his size if you look at the comparison to the leaf he is beside.


I’m also including Steve’s favourite photo of this bigger tortoise. He looks like he is hamming it up for the camera 🙂


There is also a beach down in this area, that looked terrific. We didn’t have our swimsuits on so just went and took a look. I would definitely like to come back to this beach!



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