Lida’s Field of Dreams – Tortoise Sanctuary

Lida's Field of Dreams - A Hidden Grove Full of Native Plants & Tortoises
Local Expert's Rating:
5.0 / 5
The Bottom Line:

Lida's Field of Dreams is a unique couple-created passion project that is open to the public. Here, you can meander through scores of native plant species that are raised for their seeds to be used in restoration, conservation, and research projects. To keep these plants thriving, Lida's Field of Dreams has incorporated a very natural type of groundskeeper: Giant African spurred tortoises. 

- The Local Expert Team

Some people are content with one or two pursuits while others need a half dozen or more projects underneath their sleeve at any given time to be satisfied. Lida Pigott Burney and husband Dr. David A. Burney are two that fall into that latter category, managing and operating a half dozen research projects on Kauai’s southern shore. One of such project that isn’t large or expensive, but has a lot to offer both visitors and the community at large is Lida’s Field of Dreams.

Lida’s Field of Dreams is such a small passion project that you won’t find in most tourist handbooks, nor will you find any printed advertisement pamphlet for the location. This is instead a Kauai location that, if you hadn’t read it here, would have only been able to find by word of mouth or by complete chance.

This small attraction is located just next door to the Makauwahi Cave Reserve in South Kauai. The Makauwahi Cave Reserve is also managed by the couple, both of whom have expertise in archaeological excavations, with Lida Burney having specific technical expertise in rare plant conservation. It was her love and passion to expand upon her rare plant conservation efforts as well as rare animal conservation that led to the opening of Lida’s Field of Dreams.

When you walk up to Lida’s Field of Dreams, you will see a fenced section of land surrounded by an informal nursery. Inside the fenced section is a variety of thriving plant species and nearly two dozen gigantic tortoises. This small slice of paradise was not always so verdant. The primary purpose behind Lida’s Field of Dreams was to create a space in which to raise endangered native plant species and then use their seeds to repopulate other sparse areas of the islands. Unfortunately, this plot of land was initially overgrown with weeds that choked the couple’s burgeoning efforts.

To combat the problem of weed overgrowth, the Burneys brought in three African spurred tortoises during the summer of 2012. These gigantic reptiles quickly got to work gnashing down on the unwanted ground coverings while simultaneously leaving the taller native plant species and hard bark trees alone. Every year now, the Burneys are able to ship out millions upon millions of seeds collected from these maintained areas. Those seeds get sent on for use in restoration and research projects across the Hawaiian islands — sometimes traveling even further. Importing the turtles for use in weeding the grounds has freed up the team working on caring for the native species of plants, saving the conservation group time and money. 

Today, the Burneys have nearly two dozen tortoises meandering their native plant nursery and the prehistoric creatures have made quite the name for themselves. Many visitors to Makauwahi Cave Reserve now find a bit of extra joy by meandering over to where the hulking reptiles feast and hang out. Visitors are even invited to hang out with the tortoises themselves by making their way over a pair of staircases installed over the fence line. 

Admission to Lida’s Field of Dreams is free for all ages, but donations are always appreciated. You will find a donation box located right next to those aforementioned stairs into the fenced area. When bringing children, make sure to supervise and ensure all are respectful to those gentle giants. 

Insider Tip:
Kauai has a lot of land that is privately held. The area surrounding the cave serves and Lida’s Field of Dreams is almost entirely privately owned, and that includes the roads to get to both attractions. Thankfully, they are kept open during the day for public use, but they do get promptly closed at 6 pm every night. Don’t let yourself get caught on the other side of the gates after this closing time!