The Spouting Horn is a magnificent ocean blowhole (puhi in Hawaiian) found on the island of Kauai. Located close to Poipu beach on the sunny south shores of the Garden Island, an area famed for its crashing waves, the Spouting Horn can be visited as part of the Spouting Horn Beach Park.
Spectacular water spout (source: Wikipedia)
Needless to say, visiting this attraction is a treat for the senses. Not only do you get to see a massive spout of water shoot into the air, it is accompanied by thrilling sounds reminiscent of a lizard’s roar and hiss.
Viewing the Spouting Horn is never a dull experience. The spray of water looks different under various light conditions as the sea water reflects the light around it, giving visitors a sensational show every time.
In fact, if you get lucky with the right weather, you may even get to see a rainbow appear in the sea spray! Check out more photos of the rainbow formation in the sea water mist taken by visitors to Spouting Horn on hawaii.com.
Formation of the Spouting Horn
This iconic natural formation is the result of narrow openings in the lava shelf of the coastline. Due to the volcanic nature of the Hawaiian Islands, the coastline is made up of lava shelves and rocks. As the big waves of the ocean crash down on the volcanic rocks, small holes are created forming lava tubes. These holes are known as blowholes.
When the waves come in, water is forced under the lava shelf and upwards through the small opening. The forceful upward movement of water creates a spectacular water spout. On good days, the spurt of water at the Spouting Horn can reach up to 50 feet in height.
Blowhole formation (Source: Wikipedia)
Not only that, at the Spouting Horn, there is an adjacent hole a few feet away from the water spout. Through this secondary opening, compressed air is forcefully pushed out. This creates the loud roar and hissing noise that happens with each burst of water from the blowhole.
The Legend of Kaikapu
As with most awe inspiring spectacles, there is a legend behind the Spouting Horn. According to ancient beliefs, there was a giant lizard (mo’o in Hawaiian) by the name of Kaikapu guarding the surrounding shores.
One day, Kaikapu met her match in the form of a young boy. Liko, as the boy was called, swam out to the ocean to battle with Kaikapu. He defeated Kaikapu by poking a stick into the lizard’s mouth before swimming below the shelf of lava and through a hole leading to the surface. Kaikapu chased Liko, only to find herself stuck in the narrow hole.
That blowhole is now the Spouting Horn. The roaring accompanying the water spout is Kaikapu’s roar and the spray of water is thought to represent the breath of the giant lizard.
The Rectangular Hole Nearby
Close to the Spouting Horn, there is a curious-looking large hole in the rocks that fills up with sea water. Interestingly, this is the remnant of a previous and much larger blowhole. Rumour has it that this older blowhole could spout water up to an astonishing 200 feet high.
However, the opening to this blowhole was blasted away in the 1920s by the owner of a nearby sugar plantation as the salty sea spray was damaging their sugar cane crops.
Best Time to Visit
The Spouting Horn is open all year round. That said, sunset is one of the best times of the day to visit the Spouting Horn. The changing light of the fading day provides a great backdrop for photos of the spout, perfect for Instagram!
Nearby Lawai beach (only 1.3 miles away) is also an excellent spot to watch the sun go down.
Apart from that, this entire area is a haven for whale watchers. You can often find humpback whales and turtles swimming off the coastlines nearby. The best time for whale watching would be from the months of December to May.
How to Get There
By foot or bike
The Spouting Horn is part of the Koloa Heritage Trail. The heritage trail is a 10 mile walk or bike ride that takes you through the best of Koloa’s natural attractions. It is an easy walk along a well defined trail with gorgeous scenery and plenty of beautiful photo opportunities. Find more information on the Koloa Heritage Trail here.
No hiking is needed at the Spouting Horn itself. It is only a few hundred yards from the carpark to the viewpoint.
It is also possible to drive to the Spouting Horn Beach Park. From Old Town Koloa, it is an easy 6 minute drive along Lawai Road for approximately 2.3 miles past Kukuiula Bay following the coast to the west. There is ample free parking at the Beach Park as well as restroom facilities. If you are looking to do a bit of holiday shopping, the gift vendors at Spouting Horn have a wide array of souvenirs and knickknacks to choose from.
Do note that as the blowhole is a popular stop on tour group itineraries, it may get crowded at times.
For safety reasons, the blowhole is viewed from a vantage point located a higher spot with a chain link separating the viewpoint and the rocks. Do stay within the designated safe areas behind the barricade. It may be dangerous to venture on to the rocks close to the actual blowhole.
Check the sea conditions before you go! Choose to visit the Spouting Horn on a day with big waves. With heavy surf, the movement of water through the blowhole would be more forceful, creating a more magnificent spray.