The tiny island of Kauai is full of beautiful spots – the mountains above Hanalei, the taro fields between there and Princeville, just about any beach you can name – but my favorite spot may be Kilauea Lighthouse.
Jutting out into the Pacific on the verdant northeastern side of the island, the 1913 lighthouse boasts one of the largest clamshell Fresnel lenses ever made – 4 tons of illuminated fun.
But that’s important only for true lighthouse geeks. The site’s real lure is natural. It is, after all, right beside a National Wildlife Refuge. Look out to sea and in the winter and spring the water is full of gamboling humpback whales. The lighthouse is set atop steep volcanic cliffs, and the waves break spectacularly against them.
Maybe most impressive is the number and assortment of sea birds that have made the place their home. Red-footed and brown boobies, several types of albatross, enormous frigate birds, and red- and white-tailed tropic birds that look kind of like gulls with slim, brightly colored tails. The islands just off the point have been dotted with artificial tunnels to attract rare shearwaters, which nest underground.