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The tropical paradise of Kaua'i sits amidst the deep blue waters of the Pacific Ocean, about 20 minutes from Honolulu by plane. Formed some six million years ago, and encompassing about 550 miles, it is the oldest and most northerly of the main Hawaiian Islands. A visit to Kaua'i can easily immerse you in the quiet majesty of the island's lush tropical setting and extraordinary natural heritage.

At the island's southern most point in the area known as the South Shore is Poipu. It is also the island's most developed area with its share of inviting sandy beaches and exciting resorts. Kaua'i is known as the "garden island;" read on and see why.

Pu'uhi Mount
Behind Poipu, this is where the last volcanic eruption occurred on the island of Kauai.

Kiahuna Plantation Gardens
This lovely 35-acre site, formerly known as the Moir Gardens, has over 3000 varieties of tropical flowers, trees, and plants and a lovely lagoon. Heavily damaged by Hurricane Iwa, two dozen full-time gardeners have restored the attraction to its former beauty. The grounds were originally part of an old sugar plantation. The gardens were started by the manager, Hector Moir, and his wife in 1938, and have grown more and more lavish over the years to become a standard Poipu site.

Olu Pua Gardens and Plantation
Olu Pua Gardens is a 12.5-acre botanical wonderland featuring more than 5,000 species of tropical plants. Olu Pua means "peace with flowers," and if you can't find peace here you probably won't find it anywhere. The garden offers sections for edible plants, a tree grove, jungle garden, and a palm and hibiscus section. One hour tours are offered three times a day weekdays. Reservations are required. The garden is located about 1/2-miles from Kalaheo.

National Tropical Botanical Garden
Located in Lawai Valley, the National Tropical Botanical Garden is the only tropical botanical garden in the U.S. to be chartered by Congress. With a multitude of plants and flowers, the tour of the grounds includes ancient Hawaiian stone walls and taro terraces.

Spouting Horn
One of the most intriguing attractions is the Spouting Horn. This is a lava tube that extends into the sea with its open mouth on the rocky shore. Water is forced into this tube by the surf and gushes into the air with an eerie hissing noise. The spumes can be blown very high if the surf conditions are right. The ancient Hawaiians believed that Kaikapu, a lizard goddess, was trapped by a clever fisherman in the lava tube and the hissing is the sound of her angry roar. The locals claim that in old days it shot higher. However, the plantation owners supposedly had the opening made wider so the salty spray wouldn't carry as far and damage the nearby cane fields. Catching a photograph is easy because a hole behind it makes a belching noise just before it shoots.

Whether exploring the sites, cultivating a tan on the beach, combing the shops for your gift list, or sampling island treats, Poipu will not fail to provide.