Kilauea Lighthouse: Kaua'i's Treasure

Home to Rare and Endemic Birds, Whales and Helpful Volunteers

Kilauea Lighthouse: Kaua'i's Treasure

The 31-acre site in which the Kilauea Lighthouse resides is one of the most exciting places to be for wildlife enthusiasts—especially now. Perched on a volcanic outcropping that juts further north than any point on Kaua’i’s North Shore, the land and sea surrounding the Lighthouse is home to dozens of rare and endemic birds. Careening overhead to a nearby island that sits just offshore, as well as in and out of the rocky cove that backs the site, birds like Laysan albatross come harrowingly close to the lenses of professional and amateur photographers who swarm the area daily. It also happens to be one of the most spectacular places on Kaua’i to view the humpback whales, which peruse the shoreline in droves.

Built in 1913, the Kilauea Lighthouse served as a way for mariners to transport sugarcane from the inland plantation village to the Far East. Decommissioned as a functioning lighthouse in 1976, the structure is not only a symbol of the town, but a permanent facet on the State and National Register of Historic Places. It is now run by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

We happened upon the Lighthouse earlier this month, and were pleasantly surprised at the number of Fish & Wildlife representatives who were on hand solely to discuss facts and habits of the whales and birds that captivated everyone’s attention. These volunteers spend their days dispelling rumors about everything from why whales breach (to knock off pesky barnacles) to when they sing (mostly during mating, which takes place in Alaska, not here. Although they do verbally communicate in Hawaiian waters, it is more basic than the singsong evoked during mating). In addition, you can learn about which birds play nicely with others—and which battle like Snoopy and the Red Baron—throughout the sanctuary, which stretches 203-acres down the coastline.

The Lighthouse is currently accepting donations for much-needed refurbishment to the cement tower that graceful caps the landmark. Inquire when visiting the Kilauea Lighthouse how you can help, or, visit and click the “Donate: Buy a Brick” tab to have your name emblazoned on the site for your great-grandkids to read next century. If you’ve been flustered over how you can leave your mark on society, this is one way!

Run by the Fish & Wildlife Service, the Kilauea Lighthouse is one of the best places to learn about Layson albatross and humpback whales from knowledgeable volunteers.