Kukii Point

This past weekend, Mrs. Occasional Nomad asked what I intended to do while YaYu was studying with her Mandarin tutor, and I told her I thought I might explore another little beach near Lihue. However, on my way to the Ninini beaches (there are two), I was distracted by the sight of a little lighthouse. By following the “Shoreline Access” signs from the Kaua‘i Marriott Resort I arrived at Kukii Point, across from the breakwater at Nawiliwili Harbor.

Little Light at Kukii Point

Little Lighthouse at Kukii Point

Parking was available at the end of Kalapaki (double-yoked egg) Circle, and I walked from there around the loop surrounding a huge ficus to get to the somewhat steep pathway and stairway down to the 16th hole of Kaua‘i Lagoon’s Kiele (Gardenia) Golf Course.


Loop at Kalapaki Circle


Steep Pathway

At the turnaround for golf carts, there was a short rubber-clad stairway that ended only a little closer to the shoreline.

Golf Cart Landing at the top of the Stairway

Golf Cart Landing at the top of the Stairway

A blue warning sign was waiting at the bottom of the stairway, where the path simply disappeared into bushes and guinea grass (Megathyrsus maximus), also called buffalo grass or elephant grass. If, like I was, you’re wearing shorts, you won’t want to go this way because this tall grass bears fine, whisker-like stickers the first few feet above ground, and the upper blades are just that: blades. I walked around the berm between the bunker and green to my left and found a more inviting, though steep, descent.

Warning Sign

Warning Sign

Once I was down to the harsh pumice field (where my hide would have remained in perpetuity if I fell—probably should have recommended running/hiking shoes earlier) I could see three channels scouring away the point to the left of the lighthouse.

pumice field

Pumice Field

Both the two narrow channels and the broad channel up the middle of the pumice field afforded spectacular demonstrations of the hazardous surf at work here.

Surf in the Narrow Channel

Foamy surf in the near Narrow Channel

Rip-rap dumped at the head of the broad channel created interesting random click-clack sounds like the colliding balls on a pool table at the break.

Surf in the Broad Channel

Surf in the Broad Channel

Intense wave action on the other side of the point often makes for some decent surfing at Kalapaki Beach, but at the same time the surf rips into the jagged stone that supports the foundation for the lighthouse.

Shoreline below the Lighthouse

Shoreline below the Lighthouse

I could spend hours—weeks, months, years perhaps—exploring and sharing photographs of these rocks, and the wave action, but know that may not delight everyone. If you enjoy geomorphology as much as I do though, I invite you to come on over to my island sometime and watch the shoreline tumble into the Pacific.

Shadows on Kukii Point

Shadows on Kukii Point

After watching rocks and surf for a while, it was time to proceed back up the stairway, pick up YaYu, and head for home.

Looking back up the Stairway

Looking back up the Stairway

9 thoughts on “Kukii Point

    • Brett says:

      I am not sure how old the lighthouse is, but Kukuii Point Minor Light is a 22-foot concrete pyramid which is most certainly still active and maintained by the USCG (47 foot focal plane; flashes white at 2.5 second intervals). Surrounding grounds are open, but the lighthouse is closed to the public. The seaward, major light for Nawiliwili Harbor is nearby Ninini Point, which I posted previously.


  1. Natalie says:

    Thank you for an informative post. I may have missed this in your previous posts…Are there short hikes on Kauai, e.g. 2 to 5 km? I like to hike but I don’t like to do it when there is no one around. Seeing a few hikers on the trail would make me feel safer.


    • Brett says:

      Actually, many of the hikes I’ve previously posted can be adapted for 2 to 5 km hikes. Sleeping Giant has three trails that are heavily traveled, and a hike up from the West trailhead (at the end of Lokelani Road: turn onto Kuamo’o Rd from Kuhio Highway [Highway 56] to Opaeka’a Falls, past the falls to Country Store, turn right onto Kamalu Rd, and Lokelani Rd is on the right, about 100 m before the end of Kamalu Rd). From the trailhead to the picnic shelter and lookout is about 5 km roundtrip.

      Another nice hike, about 4 km roundtrip, would be from Kuilau Trailhead (at the end of Kuamo’o Rd) to the picnic shelter and back. This trail is also well traveled.

      Ah, and also from Wailua, it’s a short 2 to 3 km along the Eastside Bike Path from Lydgate Beach to bridge/play structure and beach at the south end of the pathway.

      From Kealia Beach (north of Kapa’a) hike north to the Pineapple Dump, about 2 km. This is a good point for watching whales, porpoises, seals, and sea turtles, and occasionally you will see a Nene (native Hawaiian Goose) or two. The Pineapple Dump is where one of the Kauai sugar trains used to haul the pineapple tops from Kapa’a to dump into the Pacific, where they would “usually” be carried out to sea and consumed by happy sea creatures. Sometimes, the load would be carried back down the coast and stall along the shore of Kapa’a town, and I’m told the aroma was quite foul.

      Although you have to pay admission to Kilauea Lighthouse State Park, the hike up from the entrance to the lighthouse and back is about 2 km, and of course, well traveled. Across Kuhio Highway from Kilauea is the miniature golf center, Banana Joe’s, and the Wai Koa Loop Trail. If you just hike to the split in the Wai Koa Loop Trail and back, that’s about 3 km of well maintained lovely trail, and you could treat yourself to smoothie from Banana Joe;s when you’re done.

      So, the short answer is sure, there are many 2 to 5 km hiking options on Kauai.


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