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Wailua River fern grotto?

DaveNV

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We'll be visiting Kauai for the first time in a few weeks. I've been scouring the Kauai Revealed book and TUG to line up things to do. (Already booked the Capt. Andy dinner cruise off the NaPali coast, and Thanksgiving dinner at The Beach House.) When I was a teenager my parents went to Kauai, and they raved about the river trip they made up the Wailua River to see the Fern Grotto. (I hope I have that right. That's "the" fern grotto, right?)

Am I correct in my understanding that this grotto is kind of a waste of time now? Hurricane Iniki wrecked it? Is there any other sort of thing like that we might enjoy instead? Looking mainly for excellent photo opportunities, but kayaking and lengthy hikes aren't a good choice for us, due to physical restrictions.

Anyone know the current story, or have other ideas?

Thanks,
Dave
 

gnipgnop

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We took the "Smith Boat Tour" down the river to the Fern Grotto last May. You are correct about Iniki destroying the foliage at the Grotto but it is starting to come back. It will take many years to get to where it was.....but in my opinion....it was still a very, very beautiful trip and well worth it. The boat trip was so much fun with entertainment and Hula dancing (even a few lessons for us) as we cruised down the river. I would do it again next visit just to see how much the fern has grown. Do it!!!!!!!! You won't be sorry.:p
 

Kauai Kid

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The fern grotto lava tube was closed by the State because of concerns of collapse.

It is still an enjoyable way to cruise up and down the river and really relax.

Give it a try. The restaurant is also an enjoyable place to eat and enjoy the breeze off the river.

The Smith luau has been rated the best on Kauai.

Sterling
 

california-bighorn

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We 1st saw the Fern Grotto right after Iniki and it was still pretty, just minus some vegetation. We re-visited a couple of years later and could see improvement in plant growth and the State had gone in there and cleaned up the area of underbrush and dead tree limbs etc. The 2nd time we were there a Hawaiian woman was singing traditional Hawaiian songs right under the Grotto, so that was an additional bonus. We have not taken the tour there so can't comment on the tour itself. We probably wouldn't take the tour just to see the Grotto, but I think we are in minority on that as the boats going there had plenty of passengers. The times we visited, we were kayaking up the river as far as you can go (to the right at the split),then took the short hike to the falls and stopped at the Grotto on the way back.
Even if the State has closed part of the area due to safety concerns, it probably wouldn't effect your overall experience there.
 

DaveNV

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Thanks, everyone. I think we'll pass this one up on this trip, and let things grow back some more. We'll be on Kauai again in two years, and will try it then. It sounds really nice, but I think for the money, we'll wait till there is more positive feedback.

Appreciate the input! Any alternative choices you'd recommend?

Dave
 

alanraycole

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Considering your comment about physical restrictions...

Try the interior route of "Movie Tours" and the Botanical Gardens. As far as Fern Grotto... I went because of it's fame several years ago. I wasn't awed, but was glad I did it... once. I consider it a worthwhile "been there, done that" type of place.

For another simple pleasure, there is a movie set turned into a tourist attraction. Because I haven't been there for several visits, I cannot remember enough details to direct you to it, other than to say it is off some state highway going a bit into the interior somewhere around Kapa'a. As you approach, on the right is a popular waterfall and state provided tourist parking. On the left of the road way down below along a river is a recreated primitive village. These two stops are pleasant diversions for those not up to more strenuous activities, classified by me as worthwhile "been there, done that" quality. If I remember right, while you are on that road, you can visit a Menehune wall and a fish pond. Can someone else help out with sufficient information to direct them?
 

DaveNV

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Thanks for the tips, Alan. I'll check those out. I know we'll find plenty to keep us busy, and I know we'll be back in two years. So seeing everything in this one trip isn't necessary.

And it's not as though we're wheelchair-bound, or anything. We're able to handle doing quite a lot, but need to be mindful of what we "can't" do. The physical restrictions I mentioned include my spouse's severely bad back (several bulging discs & a vertebrae thing requiring heavy daily medications just to get around) which obviously prevents the kayaking idea, and my recent knee surgery that prevents me from taking long or strenuous hikes right now. It kind of limits what we can do safely, and still allow us to do something the day after. It's all about moderation. ;)

Dave
 

tombo

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Someone here told me to reserve a tour of the Hindu Monastery. They only offer tours once a week or so and it is by reservation only. They have this beautiful valley with a stream running through it, gardens, ponds, and a hand carved granite temple that is under construction. They have stone carvers there working and they show you how they cut the stones and how they carve intricate heiroglyphics and various gods out of stone. It doesn't take long to do the tour, but it was one of the highlights of my trip I would never have found out about if a Tugger hadn't told me. There is a number you call to make reservations and it is free (they do ask for donations).

Also call well in advance if you want a romantic sunset ocean front table at the Beach House restaurant. If you don't call months in advance you are usually out of luck.

The waterfall mentioned by the road is the one from the opening of Fantasy Island TV show.

Don't miss the botanical gardens either.
 
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DeniseM

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Here is my report and pictures from our trip to the Hindu Monastery a couple of years ago - we went back this summer, and enjoyed it every bit as much.

Hindu Temple - Kauai
 

Kauai Kid

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We took the movie tour a couple of years ago and it was a most enjoyable relaxing 4 hrs. We especially enjoyed talking story with the Hawaiian Driver while waiting for the tour guide and his entourage to return.

Its nice to leave the driving to them once in a while. Amazing how much more I was able to see--I do all of the driving.:D

Sterling
 

DaveNV

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Someone here told me to reserve a tour of the Hindu Monastery.

Also call well in advance if you want a romantic sunset ocean front table at the Beach House restaurant. If you don't call months in advance you are usually out of luck.

Thanks for the tip! I'll check the monastery for sure.

And I already have reservations for Thanksgiving dinner at The Beach House. They wouldn't guarantee a window seat on that day, but said if we arrive early and ask, we can probably get one. The reservation is for 5 PM, so we should be in time for a nice sunset. Their website sure makes it look nice there.

You folks are getting me all excited again about this trip. Just 13 days. Can't wait!

Dave
 

tombo

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Thanks for the tip! I'll check the monastery for sure.

And I already have reservations for Thanksgiving dinner at The Beach House. They wouldn't guarantee a window seat on that day, but said if we arrive early and ask, we can probably get one. The reservation is for 5 PM, so we should be in time for a nice sunset. Their website sure makes it look nice there.

You folks are getting me all excited again about this trip. Just 13 days. Can't wait!

Dave
It was DeniseM who let me in on this tour. Thanks again to Denise.

Here is the info from their web site:

Detailed Guided Tour
Approximately once a week, a guided tour begins at 9am in the gazebo at the monastery entrance, 107 Kaholalele Road. It lasts about 90 minutes. The tour is free, however love offerings are welcomed, as donations from visitors are what allows us to continue building Iraivan Temple and beautify this sanctuary. Parking is very limited, therefore reservations are required. Please call toll free 1-888-735-1619 to find out upcoming tour dates and reserve your parking space. Reservations are not required if you arrive by taxi and the taxi does not stay.

Highlights of the walking tour include:
- introduction to the monastery and Hinduism
- the 353-acre spiritual sanctuary with its botanical gardens, waterways and ponds
- watch the stone craftsmen, silpis, from India carve and assemble the granite Iraivan Temple--a noble icon of Hinduism's beauty and greatness
- the awesome monolithic 20,000 pound, 12-foot-tall black granite statue of God Siva as Dakshinamurthi
- Kadavul Hindu Temple with its central sanctum housing an exquisite, 6-foot-tall bronze statue of God Siva as Nataraja, Lord of the Dance. The temple also houses Iraivan Temple's future 700-pound, 39-inch-tall quartz crystal Sivalingam deity.

Some Important Guidelines
1. Clothing - Hindu guests are eagerly encouraged to dress in traditional Hindu clothing when visiting. Alternatively, modest clothing is permitted. No shorts, short dresses, t-shirts or tank tops. Polo shirts are okay.
2. Video and photography of the inside of Kadavul Temple is not permitted. All other areas may be photographed.
3. We ask visitors to bring an umbrella as it rains often here.
4. Remember, it is always prudent, even in paradise, not to leave valuables in your car.
 

tombo

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Here is the web site for the botanical gardens. Both the Allerton and McBryde gardens are great, but if you can only do one do the Allerton gardens. Reservations well in advance are a must or you will not make these tours.

http://ntbg.org/gardens/allerton.php

http://ntbg.org/gardens/mcbryde.php

Useful Information:
Tours of the gardens take 2 hours and are given at 9am, 10am, 1pm, and 2pm on Tuesday thru Saturday
Tours depart from the visitor center/gift shop
Reservations required for tour - call 808-742-2623
Admissions: $30/adult; $20/children under 12
 

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Hurricane Iniki was 15 years ago. The ferns have grown back, and the grotto is pretty much what it always was. It's something to see, it's not the greatest place on earth.
 

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The current damage to the ferns isn't due to Hurricane Iniki - it's due to the fact that they are no longer irrigating the land above the grotto. Irrigation water no longer percolates down through the rock to water the ferns, and many died off. They are trying to restore it, but have a ways to go. Also, because of rock fall during heavy rains in 2006, you can no longer enter the area. You have to view it from a platform about 100 yards away. Be sure you read the reviews that Jestjoan posted and you won't waste your $20 pp.
 

DaveNV

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Be sure you read the reviews that Jestjoan posted and you won't waste your $20 pp.
Thanks, Denise. As I mentioned previously, I'll pass this trip. Maybe in the future after there is better feedback, we'll give it a shot. This time around there will be plenty to do without that. And thanks also - the monastery looks great!

Dave
 
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