On the southeast side of Hawaii’s nature haven island of Kauai, the Huleia National Wildlife Refuge is nestled on 241 acres of lush green valley along the Huleia River. This natural wonderland was established in 1973 to provide a safe and protected habitat for several endangered Hawaiian waterbirds and sits right beside the historic Menehune Fishpond.
Of the 31 species of birds that call this sanctuary home, five are endangered native birds including the long-legged Hawaiian stilt, the white-billed Hawaiian coot and the handsome Hawaiian goose. In order to allow the bird life to peacefully breed, nest and live on the wetlands, the refuge is closed to the general public, but visitors can take in a picturesque view of the nature sanctuary from the Menehune Fishpond Overlook located on Hulemalu Road. The neighbouring Menehune Fishpond is a 1000-year-old man-made pond that holds significant historic, cultural and mythological importance for the people of Kauai.
Alternatively, if you really want to soak up the tranquillity of this all-natural animal kingdom (and combine the experience with a little adventure), access to the refuge can be granted via an organised kayaking tour that will take you gliding through the sanctuary on the Huleia River. The river is famous for being a film location for Indiana Jones, Raiders of the Lost Ark.
To reach the viewpoint of the Huleia National Wildlife Refuge, head southeast to Lihue and look out for the Menehune Fishpond Overlook on Hulemalu Road. From Lihue, you can also drive north on Kuhio Highway to the Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge, which is open to the public and features a historic lighthouse, sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean, bird-watching opportunities and a Visitor Center where guests can learn more about Hawaii’s unique natural habitats and wildlife. It’s open Tuesday through to Saturday from 10am to 4pm.