Smith's Fern Grotto Wailua River Cruise

Phone (808) 821-6895
4.5 stars from 6 reviews
Address 3-5971 Kuhio Hwy, Kapaa, HI 96746
A shallow, lava rock grotto with hanging ferns covering the entrance. Located on the Wailua River outside Kapa'a. One of the most popular sights in Kauai.

• Sightseeing: Great Views • Tours: Boat & Submarine
• Tours: Farm / Garden

Matt Anderson's Take
This is a beautiful, yet recovering, fern grotto located up up the Wailua River on the eastern side of Kauai. The grotto itself is beautiful shallow grotto with ferns dangling from 30ft above. The grotto is formed like an amphitheater with acoustics perfect for live music. At one time, it was lush with green ferns dangling, creating the ultimate island paradise setting. But in 1992, Hurricane Iniki ripped out most of the ferns from the rocks. Fortunately, much of the beauty has been restored as the ferns have regrown.

The observation deck near the grotto can be rented for weddings, concerts and events. Prior to some devastating rains which caused rocks and boulders to fall from the ceiling, weddings were allowed in the grotto itself. But for safety reasons, the state does not allow weddings to take place in the grotto.

You can only access the grotto by boat on the Wailua River, which is part of the Wailua River State Park. Tours to the fern grotto are offered by Smith's Kauai Garden Luau / Tropical Paradise.

This place is part of the Wailua Heritage Trail.
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Matt Anderson
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Brett D
Joined: Mar 2017
Reviews: 56
Likes Received: 1
The Smiths Fern Grotto Wailua River Cruise was also on our must see and do list. The boat tour down the river was nice and entertaining. The workers were so pleasant and funny trying to include as many as they could had most of us up trying to hula.

Once we got to the Grotto we saw a couple saying their wedding vows and my thoughts were, WOW, nice place to do this and what great memories and pictures they will have to share in the future. The pathways were filled with so many photo ops for the many pictures I took. Loved all the plants the ferns were awesome to see. This is a nice way to spend the day and a must see when in Maui. Price was good for all the beauty you get to see.
Vickey W
Joined: Mar 2017
Reviews: 123
Likes Received: 46
We knew we wanted to take this tour before we arrived in Kauai also did the Smith Luau. We enjoyed the boat ride up the Wailua River to the Fern Grotto was entertained by the Smith Family with singing dancing and the teaching of hula which was fun as they coaxed my husband to get up and try, which made for an interesting video.

They also gave very informative info on the Grotto. We got to see the damage that was caused from Hurricane Iniki such a shame. Price was reasonable. Looking forward to going again just to see how much it grows. But was still impressed with what was left and what has grown back.
Kandy H
Joined: May 2016
Reviews: 47
Likes Received: 2
This is one activity that I did once but probably won't do again. The boat ride was nice. They sang and danced on the way to the grotto. Once we were there the entertainers sang some more. You are a ways away from the grotto. It was just Ok for me. Not a must do for me.
Tracy M
Joined: Feb 2016
Reviews: 57
Likes Received: 6
The fern grotto was something that I had wanted to see from my very first trip to Kauai. Finally, after three trips to the island, I finally made it to the grotto. On the way up the Wailua river to the grotto, we were entertained by the Smith family. They played music and sang and the girls dance the hula. Then we arrived at the grotto. After a short walk, we got to the area of the grotto. They then sang and danced to the beautiful wedding song. The grotto itself was lovely. It was a very enjoyable and relaxing tour.
sabrina r
Joined: Mar 2016
Reviews: 13
Likes Received: 0
Very beautiful and peaceful! I have never seen anything like it. My children thought it was quite unique.
rachel m
Joined: Aug 2014
Reviews: 229
Likes Received: 19
The Fern Grotto River Cruise is very relaxing and the views are very nice. As you take the boat up the river the captain tells you about what you are seeing around you, some movie areas and some ancient stories. I even learned a few things. The boat ride is smooth, (I usually get sea sick and motion sick) and I didn't feel sick at all. When you finally arrive at the Fern Grotto area you get off the boat and take a short walk up to the Fern Grotto. There are restrooms along the way. When you get to the Fern Grotto you are greeted by people playing Hawaiian Music on ukuleles and guitars. As you hang out and take pictures they tell everyone about the Fern Grotto and then one of the ladies danced The Hula. After the Hula and the story, everyone walks back to the boat. On the ride back more music is played as they danced the Hula again. Then they teach you how to do a Hula dance (if you are interested, if not you just remain seated while others try). It was a really fun trip and ended up being WAY more than I expected.

Side note:
We were staying at a hotel in Kapaa and also attended the Smiths Family Luau, so we got a free shuttle (picked up at hotel and dropped off at the end of the night) and we attended the last Fern Grotto cruise of the day (3:30) and we got back from the cruise just in time to walk right over to the luau.
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