In Partnership with the Southern Weekend

Take a tour of the Wailua River with the Smith’s on Kauai and explore the famous Fern Grotto

HI Now took you to the Smith Family Garden Luau on Kauai, but have you ever taken a tour of the Garden Isle's famous Fern Grotto? As Kauai Week continues, host Kanoe Gibson is back with the Smith family to experience the river cruise that's rich in history.

Sponsored by Smith’s Wailua River Cruise

Sharing songs and legends of the Wailua River Valley is a family tradition. In 1946, Walter Smith, Sr. and his wife, Emily, started the family business with a small rowboat and a borrowed outboard motor. Four generations later, the Smith family continues the tradition of sharing their love of Kauai and its rich cultural heritage.

During the two mile river journey, you’ll hear songs and stories of ancient Hawaii — like the King’s Highway, sacred Mount Kapu, and the First Hau Tree. In addition, guests enjoy learning the hula during a lesson provided by one of the family’s cousins. Everyone gets into the act during the river cruise!

Smith’s famous Wailua River cruise boats are powered by an ingenious rear-engine system invented by Walter Smith, Sr. The spacious, open-air boats provide excellent views from either side during the trip upstream.

The Wailua River is known as “the only navigable river” in all Hawaii. The river’s fresh water pours down from Mt. Wai’ale’ale, one of the wettest spots on the planet. Lands along the river were the sacred capital of ancient Kauai and the birthplace of the island’s ali’i, or royalty.

At the Fern Grotto landing, you’ll enjoy a short nature walk through the rainforest to the lush Fern Grotto.

The Fern Grotto is a geological wonder of Kauai. Ferns grow upside down from the roof of the grotto, which was formed millions of years ago. Native Hawaiian plants and colorful exotic tropical plants provide a rainforest atmosphere.

The entire tour takes one hour and 20 minutes round-trip.

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