Sited on a 6.5-acre parcel, Kilauea Elementary School typifies the rural public school form assumed on Kauai during the 1920s and 1930s. The single-story wooden structure follows a pavilion plan, with a broad lanai fronting the courtyard on all three sides. Sheltered by the overhanging eaves of the gabled roof, the lanai serves as a corridor for the eight classrooms and office. A centered pediment-like gablet accentuates the main entrance of this splendid and practical schoolhouse. By using double-wall construction, the building was of a higher quality than most of the single-wall plantation architecture. Its board-and-batten exterior walls are sand painted, while the classrooms are finished with tongue-and-groove and have six-by-six, double-hung sash windows on their outside walls to provide ventilation.
The campus includes a cafeteria (1940), connected to the main building by a covered walk, and features a large open space with a kitchen at one end and a stage at the other. A board-and-batten structure, built as a teacher's cottage in 1932, is located toward the rear of the school and is now used as a library. In 1998, a new four-classroom unit, designed by Richard Matsunaga and Associates along the lines of the earlier buildings, was completed.
Kilauea School was started in 1882 primarily to provide educational services to the children of Kilauea Sugar Plantation's workers, though Hawaiian children living in the area also were educated here. The County of Kauai purchased this site in 1921 in order to accommodate the area's growing needs. John Waiamau, architect of the main building, was an employee of the county's Department of Public Works. His successor, Tai Hing Leong, designed the cafeteria and teacher's cottage.