Welcome to Kaui, Hawaii the “Garden Island.” The stunning vistas of the green Napoli Coast in sharp contrast with the red rock of Waimea Canyon, aptly named “The Grand Canyon of the Pacifica” bring film makers and visitors back to discover more of this richly diverse island. The visitor will find all the luxuries of home along with the hang loose lifestyle of island life. No high rise condos or major highways here, just small villages and miles of unspoiled vistas to explore.
Exploring Kauai is as adventurous or as laid back as you want it. If you want adventure, hike the Kalalau Trail, an 11-mile trek that starts at Kee Beach, crosses five valleys and ends at secluded Kalalau Beach. This hike has been voted one of the best hikes in the world. Not a hiker but still want to explore the island? Check out the Napoli coast, either by a wet and wild zodiac boat ride or a gliding catamaran that cruises along the green majestic cliffs seen in the movie Jurassic Park.
Your inner beach bum and surfer dude will appreciate the beaches of Tunnels, a great snorkeling area; Hanalei, a surfer’s big-wave nirvana during the winter months; and Poipu, a family beach that is protected by a coral reef from the heavy surf, a friendly seal hang out.
Kauai is typically quite warm and dry in the Poipou/Waimea area and cooler and wetter in the Princeville/Hanalei area. Kauai offers temperatures of 75 to 85 degrees all year long. Good weather is only a few minutes away in the opposite direction so a day’s exploring is seldom canceled! The locals often hear from visitors , “Why did I wait so long to come to Kauai?” So make your adventure happen! The aloha spirit and natural beauty of Kauai awaits you.
Kauai, the garden island, is by far the greenest of all the islands. It is both the oldest and the smallest of the main Hawaiian islands with a land mass of 562 square miles.
Kauai is home to “The Grand Canyon of the Pacific.” Waimea Canyon which is 3,000 feet deep below the rim is one of the world’s most scenic canyons. The highest peak on this mountainous island is Mount Kawaikini at 5,243 feet. The second highest peak at 5,148 feet is Mount Wai’ala’ale near the center of the island.
Kauai has one of the wettest spots on earth, with an annual average rainfall of 460 inches. Located on the east side of Mount Waialeale, the high annual rainfall has eroded deep valleys in the central mountains, carving out canyons with many scenic waterfalls. The rugged Na Pali Coast is inaccessible to vehicles but can be enjoyed over land by hiking or from the ocean by kayak or charter boat tours.
The city of Lihue on the island’s southeast coast is the county seat of Kauai and the second largest city on the island. Kapaa, on the “Coconut Coast” is the largest city with a population of about 10,000. Waimea on the southwest side was the original capital of Kauai and was the first place in Hawaii visited by British explorer James Cook. The total population of Kauai is approximately 65,000.
Kauai is home to thousands of wild chickens who have few natural predators. Kauai’s chickens originated from Polynesian settlers who brought them for food. They have since bred with European chickens which got free from farms and cock-fighting breeders.
Kauai’s beauty has long been a favorite of Hollywood and has served as the scenic backdrop for many movies, including Jurassic Park, Blue Hawaii, South Pacific and From Here to Eternity.
There are different theories about how and when Kauai was first inhabited, but the most popular legend tells of a mysterious race of small people called Menehuneâ. Believed to have lived in the woods, they were talented in construction and engineering and created Kauai’s fishponds aqueducts. Among construction projects attributed to them are the Menehune Ditch in Waimea, and the Alakoko Fishpond.
In 1778, Captain James Cook landed at Waimea Bay, the first European known to have reached the Hawaiian islands. Cook was accepted by the Hawaiians as the reincarnation of their long-disappeared god, Lono. He named them the “Sandwich Isles” after the Earl of Sandwich. A statue of Captain Cook stands today in Waimea town.
About the same time, King Kamehameha I was attempting to unify the Hawaiian Islands under his rule. Kauai’s ruler, Kaumaulii resisted for years but eventually in 1810, he decided to peacefully unite with Kamehameha and became a subordinate. However in 1815-1817 he held secret negotiations with a Russian-American company in an effort to get Russia’s military support against Kamahameha. This effort failed and the Russians were forced to leave Kauai when they did not have the support of Alexander I. Upon Kaumaulii’s death in 1824, Kauai was ceded into the rest of the Kingdom of Hawaii.
Missionaries arrived in 1820 to convert the natives. The Reverend and Mrs. William Harrison Rice were the first permanent missionaries to settle on Kauai. A handful of influential non-Hawaiian families set their imprint upon Kauai over the years, and the Rice family was among them. Others would include the Wilcoxes, Fayes, Doles and Isenbergs, who made Kauai their home. Reverend Rice died young at age 48 but his son, William Hyde Rice, had a great impact on the Island of Kauai. He spoke fluent Hawaiian and at an early age began to amass his fortune. In 1872, he formed Kipu Plantation and Lihue Ranch.
Rice loved politics, serving eleven years in the State House of Representatives in the 1870s and 1880s, one of the only three Caucasians to be elected to a predominately Hawaiian legislature. In 1891, he was appointed Governor of Kauai by Queen Liliâ€˜uokalani. When the Queen was arrested and the monarchy ended in 1893, Rice adapted easily, served his childhood friend Sanford Dole, who was named President of the new republic.
In 1835 Sugar became an important part of Kauai’s economy. Old Koloa Town opened its first sugar mill. The Koloa Heritage trail in Old Koloa Town today is a tribute to Kauai’s plantation past.