How to See Fern Grotto Kauai

Fern grotto kauai
Hawaii Aloha Travel > Blog > How to See Fern Grotto Kauai

Fern Grotto is one of Kauai’s most popular attractions. Accessible only by boat, this secluded, encaved area is a treasured part of the island’s past and a beautiful sight to see. 

What is Fern Grotto?

Fern Grotto is a secluded open cave near the Wailua River on Kauai. As the name suggests, it’s a lush jungle setting marked by abundant fern. 

Before 1935, a huge waterfall had dropped into the area. In 1935, the local sugar company parted the water for their crops, cutting off the waterfall’s flow and creating the Grotto.

Sadly, Hurricane Iwa in 1982 and then Hurricane Iniki ten years later caused some serious damage to the whole area. A near-fatal blow came in 2006 when more than 40 days of rain caused landslides that did irreparable damage to the ferns.

Today, the fern grotto is regrowing and welcomes teems of visitors. However, if you visited prior to the floods, you’ll find it’s a bit different, as there are far fewer ferns, and you can’t get as close to the grotto. 

How to Visit Fern Grotto on Kauai

Smith’s Kauai offers the only guided tour to Fern Grotto. You’ll be amazed by the beautiful destination, but the Smith Family will also make the journey there (and back) full of Hawaii’s charm. 

What to Expect on the Tour

A boat trip on the Wailua River to the Fern Grotto area remains a really nice way to spend about 90 minutes when you visit Kauai.

Your tour boat captain will narrate the ride along the river, indicating points of interest, describing the flora and fauna along the river’s banks, and relating tales of the significance of the river and surrounding areas (such as Mount Kapu) to early Hawaiians. The trip features live Hawaiian music and hula dancers.

River Boat Tours of Kauai

Today, you can walk through tropical flora to a viewing area where you can take in the natural splendor of the grotto. A small group of entertainers performs the Hawaiian Wedding Song, a tradition in the Grotto, where tens of thousands of couples have wed or renewed their vows. 

The trip costs about $30, and you can book it with our team of expert planners at Hawaii Aloha Travel.

Other Ways to See the Grotto

The $30 tour is a fun, engaging, and exercise-free way to see Fern Grotto Kauai. But, some people do choose to kayak to the area. Kayak rentals are available for the Wailua River, and it’s about a 4-mile out-and-back paddle. Just be aware that the landing area is very muddy, and you may get kicked out if you arrive at the same time as a tour boat. 

Fern Grotto Kauai: a Restored Treasure

Kauai’s Fern Grotto hasn’t had an easy life. From hurricanes to floods, from man-made obstacles to heavy foot traffic, it has seen a lot. But that’s also what makes it feel so magical. Here, you can walk through Hawaiian history, deep in the jungles of Kauai, and see one of Hawaii’s most unique sights.