An online magazine with information related to attractions, lodging, dining,
and travel resources in selected areas of Hawaii

Kauai - Kilauea Lighthouse & National Wildlife Reserve

Kilauea Point Lighthouse was built in 1913 on land purchased from the Kilauea Sugar Company for "the consideration of one dollar" and was manned for 62 years before being automated. In 1979, the lighthouse was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. It's importance over the years lies in the fact that Kilauea Point is the northernmost point of land in the inhabited Hawaiian Island chain of islands and was thus the first landfall seen by ships arriving from the Orient.

The Fresnel lens in the tower weighs four and a half tons and was designed to float on a pool of mercery nine inches deep and six feet in diameter. A system of weights, cables and pulleys rotated the lens in the same way that many grandfather clocks used to work. Just like the old clocks, the lighthouse keepers had to regularly rewind their apparatus - every three and a half hours. Combine that duty with the requirement that the keepers keep the hundreds of prisms in their lens spotless and you begin to understand just how monotonous life in a lighthouse could be. The signature double flash every ten seconds from the lens could be seen by a ship at sea as much as twenty-one miles offshore.

Today, the old lighthouse is an important landmark and a beautiful picture postcard, but it is also a very important National Wildlife Refuge, particularly for birds like the Pacific golden plover, Laysan albatross, nene (Hawaiian goose), red-footed booby, both red and white-tailed tropicbird, magnificent frigatebird and wedge-tailed shearwater. We visited in the fall and the place was alive with all kinds of birds, mostly young boobies, tropicbirds, and shearwater. The volunteers at the information center have binoculars that can be checked out by visitors and the long walkway between the entrance and the lighthouse provides an excellent viewing platform.

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