Smith’s Fern Grotto Tour

Smith's Motorboat Service – Hear Stories and Songs While Riding the Wailua River to Fern Grotto
Local Expert's Rating:
4 / 5
The Bottom Line:

Want to take a magical journey down the Wailua River to Fern Grotto – all while hearing tales of Kauai history and culture? If so, just book a seat with Smith’s Motorboat Service and get ready to see all the wonders of paradise up close and personal.

- The Local Expert Team

Despite the name, Smith’s Motorboat and Fern Grotto Tour started modestly with a rowboat and an outboard motor generously lent to the family. Through the many decades since then, they’ve upgraded to their famous cruise boats designed to smoothly paddle down the Wailua River. Designed by Walter Smith, Sr., himself, the boat’s rear-engine system keeps things moving while the open-air design promises to keep you comfortable on your journey.

When you sign up for a Fern Grotto Tour, you’ll get to burble two miles up the Wailua River while enjoying phenomenal views of the scenic landscape. Along the way, you can count on your guide telling stories of the history and culture of the region plus family lore aplenty. Classic Hawaiian songs and hula dance up the ante as does the quick lesson on the art of hula before you hit the shores.

Once you arrive at the trail, your guide will lead the group through the rainforest to Fern Grotto. The ferns growing from every direction will undoubtedly capture your attention at first glance. Just be sure to perk up your ears as you gaze in awe, so you don’t miss any fun facts sent your way. After spending quality time at the grotto, your guide must break the spell and ferry you back down the river to the Smith’s property.

Top activities on the Fern Grotto Tour include:

Hear Island Songs and Stories
There’s no better way to hear about the history and culture of Hawaii than through stories and songs. Your guides on the Smith’s Motorboat Service will share sacred tales about Mount Kapu, the First Hau Tree, and much more, giving you a glimpse into the origins and customs of island life. Songs will punctuate the tales as hula dancers infuse even more meaning into every utterance.  

Learn How to Hula Dance
To help you feel like a part of the action, the hula dancers offer a chance to learn a quick dance and shimmy to the music. Once you learn all the awesome moves, you’ll likely find yourself dancing your heart out as each song hits your eardrums. You won’t be the only one either. Smith’s Motorboat Service can support over 100 people per trip, so expect to have many more dancers in your midst.   

Take a Nature Walk
As you land on the trail, the rainforest atmosphere instantly sets the tone for your explorations. The nature walk lets you see all the exotic flowers, trees, and other plants that color East Side Kauai. Plus, your guide will point out the geological wonders all around you, even letting you know how they likely formed.

Experience the Fern Grotto
A true tropical paradise, Fern Grotto never fails to impress with its colorful flowers set against the wayward ferns. The greenery grows from every direction, including straight down, giving you a glimpse into the power of nature. It’s simply indescribable, so be sure to take lots of photos to share with your friends and family back home as you tell the story of your journey to the grotto and back again.

Upon returning from the Fern Grotto Tour, you can enjoy all the other activities Smith’s Kauai has to offer. If you time it right, you might be able to zip on over to their Garden Luau for an excellent show to remember. Otherwise, you can explore their 30-acre garden park from end to end. With its tropical orchard, Japanese-themed garden, and many other amazing sights, it’s easy to spend hours meandering down the paths and taking it all in.

Insider Tips:
-Want to go to the luau after you return from your trip to Fern Grotto? Just sign up for the 3:30 pm tour to time it perfectly.
Smith’s Motorboat Service tours fill up fast, especially at the start and end of the week. You can make sure they save you a spot on the boat by booking your tour using the online system on their website.
-If your bladder is bursting after all that hula dancing fun, stop by the bathroom halfway up the trail to the grotto to relieve the pressure.