Kilauea Lighthouse an Excellent Place for Birding

Kilauea Lighthouse an Excellent Place for Birding

United States
United States

When Is the Best Time

The Kilauea Lighthouse is an exceptional place for nature lovers, bird watchers, and families as well. The National Wildlife Refuge is easily accessible by car. Stroll around and watch the fascinating birds nesting here. Many information signs let you know what to sea from whales to birds and the history of this picturesque lighthouse. The well-maintained park is suitable for the entire family with a pushchair and wheelchair as well. Kids can run around here safely. 

Kilauea Lighthouse up close
The Kilauea Point is the northernmost outpost of the Hawaiian Islands chain and completed in 1913.

The Kilauea Point is open from Tuesday until Saturday from 10 am to 4 pm. The outer gate is closed a little earlier already. The lighthouse and the park are closed on Sundays, Mondays, and major official holidays. If you miss the opening hours, you still can get a spectacular view from outside from the parking in front of the Wildlife Refuge gate. It is the best place to see the nesting red boobies. 

Flying red-footed booby
The red-footed Booby is an excellent diver. Boobies can dive up to 100 feet - 30 m deep.

Kauai experiences lots of precipitation throughout the year, the reason for this exceptional vegetation. The best time regarding the weather is the drier season between May and October. It is a tropical climate on the Hawaiian islands, and showers frequently occur. Nevertheless, there is always a place where it is sunny. The amount of rain depends on the location as well.

Red-crested cardinal
Red-crested cardinal

The south and east are drier than the north, where the lighthouse is located, and the west side. If you want to know more about the climate, check out my guide for the 7-Best-Hikes on Kauai.

Avoiding Crowds

Paved path to Kilauea
It is a 300 m walk from the parking to the lighthouse

To avoid the crowds, come either sharp at 10 when they open or late afternoon around 3 pm. However, you easily spend half a day at the lighthouse area enjoying the beautiful scenery, the passing dolphins and whales, watching the different seabirds which are flying around. Pretty busy before midday and especially on Tuesdays. Cars are queuing, and the gate closes when the two parking areas are full.

Guided Tours

The Kilauea light
472 separate glass elements weighing as much as a juvenile humpback; 4.5 tons

If you like to get a view inside the lighthouse, tours are offered only on Wednesdays and Saturdays between 10:30 am and 2:30 pm every 30 minutes. If you like to take part come at 10 am and inscribe for the first tour. Places are limited. The guided tour is for free though the entrance fee to the refuge is $10.

Update April 2021: Due to COVID 19 access to the lighthouse area by reservation only. Open from Thursday to Saturday. The ticket must be purchased in advance! Ticket Reservation Link

Birds and Whales

Breaching Humpback in the distance
Breaching humpback in the distance (pic was taken with my zoom camera)

  • The humpbacks migrate 3.000 miles from their summer feeding grounds in Alska to Hawaii and arrive in November to mate and calve in the warm waters of Hawaii. They are heading back in late April. The best months to spot humpbacks are February and March just in front of the lighthouse.
  • The Laysan Albatross colony can be observed from November to July. You can use the provided monocular to see them closer—the nest in an area west of the lighthouse. The nesting birds and chicks can be seen only from the lighthouse area. 
  • Red-footed boobies can be seen at Kilauea Point the entire year.
Accommodations

Queen's Bath in Princeville
A hotel link for Princeville is added to this picture.

Princeville is a perfect location where the popular Queen's Bath is located. Most of the best-rated hotels are located here in walking distance of the famous pool which is accessible at low tide only. We spotted lots of turtles in the bay next to Queen's Bath. 

 

Kauai Tours

Incredible Tours to see the famous Na Pali Coast and the Waimea Canyon from a different perspective.

 

 

Best Months to Visit

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Location and Tips

Hawaii, Kauai
United States
United States

The lighthouse is located on the north shore of Kauai at Kilauea Point, a rocky peninsula 180 feet/ 55m above the sea. This northernmost point in the main Hawaiian Islands was the perfect choice to serve ships coming from the east.

History and Facts of the Kilauea Lighthouse

Nesting Boobies at the cliffs of Kilauea Point
Nesting Boobies at the cliffs of Kilauea Point

  • Completed in 1913
  • It is 52 feet/16 m high.
  • No roads existed until 1927, and all supplies for the lighthouse had to be brought by sea.
  • In 1927 the characteristic light "a double flash every ten seconds" was spotted by the aeroplane crew of the "Bird of Paradise" just in time to correct their course to O'ahu.
  • After the second world war, new technologies made the use of lighthouses obsolete.
  • In 1976 the original light was replaced by an automated rotating beacon.
  • The National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1985.
  • The information centre was built in 1988, damaged four years later by a hurricane and repaired.
  • It got restored from 2010-2013.
  • In 2014 a solar-powered LED light was installed and replaced the previous beacon.
  • This prominent lighthouse has to withstand major hurricanes on average every ten years.

Hawaiian Nene goose
Endangered Hawaiian Nene Goose

The Kilauea Lighthouse is situated in the area of Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge. It is one of the best places for birding and whale watching on the main Hawaii Islands. It is home to the largest populations of nesting seabirds like the Red-footed Booby and the Laysan Albatross.

Information Board of the Layasan Albatross

You may spot spinner dolphins, humpback whales, Hawaiian monk seals from the lighthouse. The endangered Hawaiian Nene goose, the Hawaiian State Bird, is seen frequently around the refuge.

The entrance fee of $10 and free for children under 16 years. Parking for free.

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Created by
Micha Herber-Bleich
Micha Herber-Bleich
I love adventurous trips and my husband…