Situated west of Poipu on Kauai’s Shore Shore, the Spouting Horn is an impressive blowhole just a stone’s throw from the National Tropical Botanical Gardens. A shelf of lava rock extends into the ocean here, and incoming surges of water are funneled through a hole in the rock. In heavy surf, the Horn can spout more than 50 feet into the air: quite the sight, to say the least!
It’s not just a visual show, either. The Spouting Horn conduit makes plenty of noise, too. There’s the roar and blast of the spouting spray, but also mysterious moans and hisses, partly stemming from air forced through the rock cavities.
Indeed, the Spouting Horn’s grumblings figures in a traditional legend about the spot. It’s said an enormous lizard, Kaikapu, once held court over this stretch of coast. A threat to anyone daring to fish or swim in the area, the lizard was finally vanquished by a boy named Liko. He speared the beast in the mouth, then swam to safety through the hole in the lava shelf. The lizard pursued him but became stuck within. You can still hear it roaring and groaning.
When the sunlight’s right, a rainbow commonly forms in the tall plume of spray. And it’s hard to top sunset at the Spouting Horn, one of the best places on the island to be at day’s end.
Interestingly, another blowhole with a significantly taller jet once sprayed close by the Spouting Horn. You can see its remnants, in fact, in the form of a large hole in the shoreline rocks. The head of a sugar plantation in the area blasted that blowhole apart back in the 1920s, on account, its salt spray was damaging the crop. This bygone bigger brother to the Spouting Horn could apparently send up spray a couple of hundred feet high!
Easy to reach from Poipu and well-signed, Spouting Horn Beach Park is part of a network of points of interest along the Koloa and Poipu coast included in the Koloa Heritage Trail (Ka Ala Hele Waiwai Hooilina o Koloa). The Spouting Horn is, in fact, the first of 14 stops on this 10-mile-long, self-guided tour. Others also well worth checking out include the Prince Kuhio Birthplace & Park, Pau A Laka/Moir Gardens, and Poipu Beach Park.
Kauai packs an astonishing amount of natural wonders into a pretty small island. The Spouting Horn may lack the scale of Waimea Canyon or the NaPali Coast, but it’s a geological marvel in its own right: an absolute must-see on the Garden Isle’s South Shore!
In winter and spring, Spouting Horn Beach Park provides a great vantage from which to look for the humpback whales that calve in Kauai’s waters. It’s extra cool to see some whale spouts within view of the blowhole’s own spout!