CAVES AND KARST OF KAUAI

 
Makauwahi cave, Kauai, Hawaii
Kauai is the oldest of the Hawaiian Islands that appear more like mountain tops that have grown out of the ocean 5.1 million years ago, than the traditional islands you might see in other equatorial destinations.  Kauai and the other 7 Hawaiian islands are in the middle of a dramatic trade wind jet stream that delivers abundant moisture and precipitation to the 8 islands in the middle of the Pacific.
Makauwahi cave, Kauai, Hawaii

 Kauai is composed primarily of a central shield volcano which built the island from layered basalt flows starting some 3.7 km below the surface of the ocean.  The Speleogeneological nature of the island is dominated by basalt lava flows of which have created the Napoli and Okolele formations. These formations have a major role in the flank collapses and Caldera fills, including the one in the Alakai Awamp where the Caldera has been filled in resulting in a region of impermeable water seepage creating what we know today as the Alakai Swamp and Mt. Waialeale, one of the wettest places on earth.

Waikapale caves, Kauai, hawaii
Naturally lava tubes would have been created if the lava flows allowed, but with the brittle formations of the Napoli and the Okolele formations, Karst and cave systems appear to be very few on the Island of Kauai.  However, there are a few small caves that I was able to locate on the Island within the time that I was there.  They are all touristy caves and I could also see some other grotto features in cliffs but nothing as extensive as some of the other lava tube systems on the other islands in Hawaii.
Makauwahi cave limestone, Kauai, Hawaii
One of the caves is called Makauwahi.  It is located in the southern region of Poipu near the Heritage trail. there is a small trail leading to the Sinkhole entrance which has a trail that leads through a small hole into a cavern and out into the bottom of the sink itself. Learn about the Heritage trail here.
Makauwahi cave, Kauai, Hawaii

There is a couple hundred feet of passage where a guide takes people on tours of the cave and its history.  The cave is relatively new and has been said to be between 700,000 years and 1,000,000 years old which is pretty new considering the islands were formed only 5 million years ago and typically caves, especially the ones in the Midwest, are around 250,000,000 and 350,000,000 years old. The cave is the only limestone cave on all of the islands which is interesting and has artifacts that can be found inside the cave include early Hawaiians conducting various ceremonies and pieces of extint shell and bone which have been washed into the sink during the last few ice ages.
formations in Makauwahi cave, Kauai, Hawaii

 I found that to be rather interesting as it is a collection dish of sorts throughout the last Holocene and Pleistocene eras.  The Sand is silky smooth and there are some popcorn formations and small stalactites in the cave. It is worth a visit if you are into geology or if you are just in the area, I recommend giving it a look.  The Next cave is called Maniniholo and is a very easy access cavern across the street from lifeguard beach where Tunnels beach is located. 
Maniniholo cave, Kauai, hawaii

Maniniholo Cave appears to be more of an old sea cave that has endured the trials of time and today, it is a dry and dormant cavern with some oxidizing material that can be found on the walls.
Maniniholo cave, Kauai, hawaii
 
Tunnels beach actually has some interesting lava formations in the form of broken up sea cave passage and short broken up lava basalt features 40ft underwater that swimmers and divers can visit when the tides are not ripping through the bay, unlike how it was when I was there.


Maniniholo cave, Kauai, hawaii
Waikanaloa and Waikapale caves are up the road a bit more and provide a impressive entrance which immediately leads to a water filled passage that abruptly ends.

Maniniholo cave, Kauai, hawaii

  From what I understand, the caves watercourse connect with the tides in the ocean and rainfall that lead out into the sea and divers have been in the cave water entrance but I cant find anymore information on where the passage goes or the results from the dive research.  The passage and cave is pretty big, with clear water, and looked tempting to rent dive gear to see where it goes.
Waikapale caves , Kauai, hawaii

 The govt. does not want anyone swimming in there due to Leptospirosis.  Interesting basalt entrances and caves but as far as exploration goes, I believe some of the other islands have more extensive passages than these caves.
Waikapale caves , Kauai, hawaii
 
 
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