Famous for its overhanging ferns and relaxing atmosphere, the Fern Grotto is a breathtaking geological wonder. Located along the Wailua River on Kauai’s eastern shore, this lava cave has turned into a lushly landscaped attraction — an oasis of natural beauty and tranquility worth exploring when visiting Hawaii.
Several boat companies conduct Fern Grotto day trips in Kauai, combining sightseeing with history, culture and both land and water activities.
Here's all you need to know about the Fern Grotto, one of the most exciting day trips in Kauai.
The Fern Grotto is located along the Wailua River on Kauai’s eastern side. It sits just a few kilometers inland from the shoreline, near the entrance to the Wailua River State Park. It's about a 15-minute drive from Lihue Airport.
There are several ways to get to the area, however, to reach the actual cave itself you will need a boat or kayak.
To reach the cave by car, make your way to the Wailua River State Park. If you're staying on the northern side of the island in towns like Princeville, the drive is about 45 minutes along the beautiful coastline.
From southern towns, including Waimea, the drive takes about 50 minutes.
It is not possible to reach the Fern Grotto by public transport directly. However, you can catch the 850 Bus from Lihue to Wailua Homesteads Park which will drop you within 30 minutes walk of Wailua River State Park, home of the Grotto.
These are the most popular and straightforward for Fern Grotto day trips. The pre-organized vehicles pick you up from your hotel and escort you to the Fern Grotto, often stopping at additional attractions and points of interest along the way.
You'll have a knowledgeable guide to explain the history, culture, and environment surrounding the Fern.
A guided Fern Grotto day tour typically begins with a convenient hotel pickup followed by a scenic drive along the beautiful coastline in a comfortable, air-conditioned minivan.
Along the way, your guide will point out interesting sights and explain the island’s history, culture and environment. Once you arrive at the destination, you'll board an open-air river boat and cruise through the Wailua River to the Fern Grotto.
If you book a Fern Grotto day tour that includes North Shore (most do), then you can also expect to see attractions along the way, such as sugar cane fields, old plantations, the Kilauea Lighthouse and the Hanalei taro fields.
After the sightseeing is complete, your friendly guide will drive you back to your hotel.
Combining Kauai's north and east shores, this full-day tour offers the opportunity to explore a variety of attractions. Expect to pass several beaches, mountains and waterfalls as you drive, before arriving at the Wailua River State Park for a boat ride to the enchanting Fern Grotto.
Created for Kauai visitors who arrive on cruise ships, this shore excursion includes a round-trip transfer from the port to the Fern Grotto. Along the way, your knowledgeable guide will chat about the history and culture of the area.
The price of a Fern Grotto day trip from Kauai ranges from about US$80 to US$190, but depends on the length of the tour, type of transport and number of people in your party.
Generally speaking, shore excursions are the cheapest option at about US$80 per person, lasting for about three hours. Full-day tours to the Fern Grotto which include North Shore sightseeing cost around US$190 per person.
On day trips to the Fern Grotto, the main highlight is, of course, the Fern Grotto itself. This enchanting cave is a natural wonder filled with lush vegetation and tall walls that are covered in ferns.
You can also expect to explore other attractions along the way, depending on which type of tour you book. Popular sights include Kilauea Lighthouse, Hanalei taro fields, sugar cane fields and old plantations.
As you drive from your hotel and cruise the Wailua River, you'll learn about the fascinating history, culture and geology of Kauai and the Hawaiian islands, while also getting time to relax and mingle with your fellow travelers.
Depending on which tour you choose, there may be additional stops at points of interest such as beaches or waterfalls.
The best time to visit the Fern Grotto is generally between May and September, when the weather is warm and sunny. However, Hawaii is beautiful year-round, so any time is a great time for a visit!
If you want to avoid the crowds, it is recommended to visit in shoulder seasons, like May and June or September and October.