Kokee Natural History Museum

Koke'e Natural History Museum - A Small Museum With A Lot to Offer
Local Expert's Rating:
4 / 5
The Bottom Line:

The Hui o Laka Koke'e Natural History Museum is the perfect place for those with an affinity for the natural sciences to stop and explore. Located in the Koke'e State Park, the museum is free for all, with a recommended donation of $1 per visitor. Enjoy a small, well-maintained nature trail, a well-curated gift shop, and knowledgeable employees. If you're planning on doing any hiking during your vacation, this is the perfect place to get the scoop on current trail conditions and to pick up a trail map. 

- The HawaiianIslands.com Local Expert Team

Stop by the Koke’e Natural History Museum for a taste of Kauai’s biodiversity and natural history. Though you won’t find expansive, state-of-the-art displays here, you will find well-curated, informative tableaus about everything from the history of Kauai to the native birdcalls.

A  short nature trail behind the museum offers a lovely, peaceful walk with many of the plants labeled. It’s just a small taste of Kauai’s many gorgeous hiking trails–and this is also the perfect stop to plan your hikes while on the island. The museum’s gift shop offers detailed, updated trail maps, and employees are knowledgeable about the hikes and trail conditions in the local area. 

The gift shop itself also has something for all ages, from picture books about Hawaiian life and culture to local artwork to informational books about the plants, birds, sea life, and history of the Hawaiian Islands. Don’t expect bargain-basement prices. Do expect a well-curated collection of books and gift items, including the famous Niihau shell jewelry and detailed, up-to-date trail and recreation maps. 

The Koke’e Natural History Museum doesn’t charge for admission, though they do have a donation box to accept a suggested donation of $1 per visitor. They also don’t receive government funding; the museum stays afloat via donations, annual memberships, and gift shop sales. An array of exhibits do rotate infrequently, ranging from WWII historic topics to exhibits sharing the history of the nearby Civilian Conservation Corps Camp. 

The Koke’e Museum is located in northwest Kauai about a mile past the entrance to the Koke’e State Park. It’s also within easy driving distance of Waimea Canyon State Park, and the winding road past the museum will take you to some of the best Waimea Canyon overlooks. 

Insider Tips:
-Don’t expect to spend a lot of time here; the museum is small, but it’s worth stopping by, especially if you’re on your way to one of the nearby trailheads or to the Waimea Canyon lookout. 
-The museum’s open hours are known from their officially posted hours, so if you’re planning to go on a drive primarily for the museum’s sake, you might want to call in advance to confirm their operating hours. 
-Consider wearing a jacket and long pants to Kauai’s mountain state parks; because you’re at a higher elevation, the temperatures can get a bit chilly. 
-If you’re planning to hike before or after your stop at the museum, you might want to carry your own bottles of water. You won’t find drinking fountains or other sources of easily accessible potable water within the state parks.