Kauai Museum

Kauai Museum — Where to Go on a Deep Dive of Kauai History and Culture
Local Expert's Rating:
4.5 / 5
The Bottom Line:

If you want to learn all the history and culture of Kauai, there’s perhaps no better place to go than the Kauai Museum. Located next to the Lihue Civic Center, this little museum packs a powerful punch of info that’ll leave you well-informed about the island and its people. You can even catch live demonstrations on the regular if you come by at just the right times.  

- The HawaiianIslands.com Local Expert Team

Despite its humble appearance, the Kauai Museum is a powerhouse of information about the history and culture of the island. Although the museum looks a bit small from the outside, it actually features two buildings chockfull of art, artifacts, and so much more. As you travel through each building, you can learn about everything from local geography and WW2 history to plantations and the art of surfing.

The Wilcox Building features exhibits on Kauai royalty, ancient Hawaii, tools used by the earliest generations, and so much more. The Rice Building moves on to talk about even more island subjects, including World War II, native flora and fauna, and the early missionaries. You even get a chance to learn all about local surf legends, including Keala Kennelly, Sharron Weber, and Laird Hamilton.

If you’d like inside information, you’ll need to book a guided tour before you come in. During the tour, you’ll join a group of up to nine other people for a leisurely walk through every exhibit. Your docent will share in-depth insights about the artwork, artifacts, and other items on display. By the end of the tour, you’ll walk away brimming with interesting facts and figures to share.

Otherwise, you can just a self-guided tour at your own pace. Although you won’t have a docent by your side, you can get the info you crave by reading all the signs at each exhibit. In order to provide the full breadth of info about each subject, the writing on the signs is rather small, so it’s wise to bring along your reading glasses if you need them. If you have any questions, just ask nearby museum staff, and they’ll be happy to provide the answers you seek.

Either way, you’re sure to walk away with tons of newfound knowledge about island life. Just be sure to take the time to watch the video before moving onto the second building. Although it’ll take up about an hour, it’s well worth getting the inside scoop about what lies ahead.  

With so many artifacts and other items packed into such a small space, this museum is not a great venue for small children. If you do visit with kids in tow, keep the trip short and sweet to make it enjoyable for them. Your admission ticket is good for the entire day. So, you can always get their wiggles out at the nearby Kalapaki Beach before coming back for another look at no extra charge. 

Before you leave, check with the staff to see if any storytelling or other events will occur during your stay on the island. Otherwise, you might miss out on live art demonstrations, musical performances, and other amazing events. Remember to stop in at the gift shop as well to bring home a small memento of your trip.

Insider Tips:
-Need an interpreter? Just ask for one at the front desk.
-Want to see it all again after returning home? Go to their website and take the VR tour.
-Their wheelchair accessible entrance is located at the back of the building. You can call them for assistance if needed.
-You can pre-purchase your admission ticket online through their website. Kids under 8 and current members get free admission, while seniors and local residents receive a discount.