The Kilauea Point Lighthouse was built in 1913, serving for 62 years before being deactivated by the Coast Guard in 1976 and replaced with an automated beacon. Extensive restoration to the lighthouse was completed in 2013. Today, the lighthouse is a popular tourist attraction renowned as much for the lighthouse as it is for the bird and whale watching.
The lighthouse is located on the northernmost point of Kauai on a peninsula 180 feet above sea level. It is now part of the Kilauea Point Wildlife Refuge, a sanctuary for seabirds including frigates, boobies, shearwaters and Laysan albatrosses. In winter months, humpback whales can often be seen off the coast.
The lighthouse is near the town of Kilauea and a short drive from the main Hwy 56. The scenic overlook is free, and $10 will gain you admission to the lighthouse and refuge area. (Children under 16 are free.) There’s also a gift shop/visitor center that has additional information about the lighthouse.
Kilauea Lighthouse Address
3500 Kilauea Rd
Kilauea, HI 96754
Location at Google Maps
Hours of Operation
Tuesday – Saturday: 10AM – 4PM
Closed Sunday and Monday
Web address: www.kilaueapoint.org
Kilauea Lighthouse Tours
Lighthouse tours are offered on Wednesdays and Saturdays from 10:30AM to 2:30PM every hour on the half hour (pending availability of volunteers). The tours give an interesting insight into the island’s history, the historic era of lighthouses and the people who tended and cared for them.
The tours are informative and enjoyable. Visitors learn about the crafty construction of the lighthouse at a not-so-accessible spot, the 9,000-pound Fresnel lenses that were made in France, the giant bubble of mercury the lenses floated on for rotation (the mercury was removed during the restoration), how the lighthouse saved the first flight to Hawaii from the mainland, the lighthouse in World War 2 (it went dark), the lighthouse keepers and their daily lives, and technological advances that eventually led to the automation of the lighthouse in the mid-1970s.
The tours are free with a paid admission to the lighthouse ($10 for adults, children under 16 are free). To reserve your spot, sign up in the building next to the lighthouse to receive a ticket for each person signed up.
Sign up for the lighthouse tours in the building on the left (above photo).
Barbier, Bernard, and Turenne of Paris, France manufactured the lenses. The 9,000-pound lenses floated on mercury and compressed air and were rotated by a system of pulleys.
Windows were opened and closed to aid in ventilation, and at times, to stoke the fire for the light.
Visitors are allowed a brief look at the top level of the lighthouse.
Kilauea Lighthouse History
In the early 1900’s the U.S. Government determined that a lighthouse was needed on Kauai to aid navigation. Kilauea Point was selected because of the prominent northernmost location on the island and the 180 foot elevation.
The Fresnel lenses were manufactured in Paris.
The upper portion of the lighthouse has a steel circular walkway with handrails. The metalwork was fabricated in Ohio.
The tower under construction on January 1st, 1913. Construction on the lighthouse began in July 1912 and was dedicated on May 1, 1913.
There were no good roads between Nawiliwili Harbor and Kilauea at the time, so the decision was made to bring in the materials for the lighthouse by sea.
A boom derrick was built to lift construction supplies to the top.
The derrick in operation.
A shark on the landing platform July 4th, 1913.
Three houses were built for the light keepers and their families.
Undated photo of the Kilauea Lighthouse between 1913 and 1939.
(Source: Department of Commerce. Bureau of Lighthouses.)