Located just north of the city of Lihue on the island of Kauai, the Kapaia Suspension Bridge is a 125-foot-long suspension bridge that was built in 1948. The bridge crosses over the Hanama’ulu Stream and served as a crossing point for plantation workers.
While you probably expect most suspension bridges to have been built for vehicles, the Kapaia Suspension Bridge was built and stands to this day as a pedestrian-only bridge. In fact, there are quite a few footbridges dating back to the early and mid-1900s that were built for plantation workers that needed to travel between the farms and camps. The Kapaia Swinging Bridge is a more modest but still impressive historic crossroad of that era.
This bridge was built primarily from wooden beams, with two massive wooden towers anchored by steel cables as the primary support. Unfortunately, being wooden meant this bridge needed substantial care that it did not receive for well over 50 years. Throughout the ’00s, this suspension bridge was closed to crossings due to wood rot. The good news is that full repair finally was approved and began in 2018. Today, anyone can safely cross over its sound structure.
Getting to Kapaia Suspension Bridge from the main road is easy. Simply take Kapaia Road south from Kuhio Highway and park at the parking lot the road runs into. From here, you will see a trail through the woods that leads straight up to the Kapaia Swinging Bridge.
-Unfortunately, the Kapaia Suspension Bridge is not ADA-accessible and those with severe mobility issues should skip this little historic detour. That said, if you come through the indicated parking lot, you will see white painted handrails that can assist those with minor mobility difficulties.
-Sometimes, the neighboring field will have artistic displays or exhibits. Check the City of Lihue’s website for more information.