The journey as much as the destination has kept this tourist attraction popular since 1946, when the Smith family first began offering boat trips 2 miles up the Wailua River to this lava-rock cave with lush ferns hanging from its roof. The open-air barge cruises past royal and sacred sites of antiquity, noted by a guide, until it arrives at a landing that’s a short walk from the grotto. Ancient Hawaiians knew it as Maamaakualono, a site dedicated to the god Lono, who is associated with agriculture and healing. Although you can no longer enter the cave, an observation deck provides a decent view, as well as the stage for a musician and hula dancer to perform the “Hawaiian Wedding Song” (made famous by Elvis Presley’s 1961 film Blue Hawaii, filmed nearby at the Coco Palms). The tour, a total of 80 minutes, includes music and hula on the return trip down the state’s longest navigable river (see “Wailua River State Park”). Note: Kayakers and other paddlers may visit Fern Grotto on their own, as long as their arrival or departure doesn’t overlap with those of the tour boats; see “Kayaking” for rental information. Kamokila Hawaiian Village, across the river from the grotto, also offers guided outrigger canoe tours and rentals.
Hwy 56 (Kuhio)
Our Rating Neighborhood East Side Transportation Free shuttle from Wailua area. Phone 808/821-6895 Prices $25 adults, $12.50 children 3 to 12. Web site Fern Grotto Other Tours via Smith’s Motor Boats (www.smithskauai.com; 808/821-6895) depart at 9:30 and 11am, and 2 and 3:30pm. .
MapHwy 56 Kauai
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.