IMPORTANT SAFETY NOTE. As beautiful and tranquil as Hawaii's beaches and rocky cliffs -- very tempting to would-be divers -- may be, STAY A SAFE DISTANCE AWAY FROM ALL BUT OUR DESIGNATED BEACHES WITH SWIMMING AREAS AND A LIFEGUARD TOWER! The Pacific Ocean can suddenly change from flat to deadly in the blink of an eye and many unsuspecting people are routinely swept off rocks and out to sea -- or dashed to bits on the sharp rocks. And then there are Hawaii's sharks. STAY WITHIN THE DESIGNATED SWIMMING AREAS!
On to the fun!
Kauai is geologically the oldest of the main Hawaiian Islands. With an area of 562.3 square miles (1,456.4 km2), it is the fourth largest of the main islands in the Hawaiian archipelago, and the 21st largest island in the United States. Known also as the "Garden Isle", Kauaʻi lies 105 miles (169 km) across the Kauaʻi Channel, northwest of Oʻahu. This island is the site of Waimea Canyon State Park.
The United States Census Bureau defines Kauaʻi as Census Tracts 401 through 409 of Kauaʻi County, Hawaiʻi, which is all of the county except for the islands of Kaʻula, Lehua, and Niʻihau. The 2010 censuspopulation of the island was 67,091, with the largest town by population being Kapaʻa.
Etymology and language
Native Hawaiian tradition indicates the name's origin in the legend of Hawaiʻiloa—the Polynesiannavigator attributed with discovery of the Hawaiian Islands. The story relates how he named the island of Kauaʻi after a favorite son; therefore a possible translation of Kauaʻi is "place around the neck", meaning how a father would carry a favorite child. Another possible translation is "food season".
Kauaʻi was known for its distinct dialect of the Hawaiian language that is still spoken on the neighboring island of Niʻihau. Whereas the standard language today is based on the dialect of Hawaiʻi island, which has the sound [k] at the beginning of words, the Kauaʻi dialect was known for pronouncing this as [t]. In effect, Kauaʻi dialect retained the old pan-Polynesian /t/, while "standard" Hawaiʻi dialect has innovated and changed it to the [k]. Therefore, the native name for Kauaʻi wasTauaʻi, and the major settlement of Kapaʻa would have been called Tapaʻa.
Kauaʻi's origins are volcanic, the island having been formed by the passage of the Pacific plate over theHawaii hotspot. At approximately six million years old, it is the oldest of the main islands. The highest peak on this mountainous island is Kawaikini at 5,243 feet (1,598 m).
The second highest peak is Mount Waiʻaleʻale near the center of the island, 5,148 feet (1,569 m) above sea level. One of the wettest spots on earth, with an annual average rainfall of 460 inches or 1170 cm, is located on the east side of Mount Waiʻaleʻale. The high annual rainfall has eroded deep valleys in the central mountains, carving out canyons with many scenic waterfalls. On the west side of the island, Waimea town is located at the mouth of the Waimea River, whose flow formed Waimea Canyon, one of the world's most scenic canyons, and which is part of Waimea Canyon State Park. At 3,000 feet (914 m) deep, Waimea Canyon is often referred to as "The Grand Canyon of the Pacific".Kokeo Point lies on the south side of the island. The Na Pali Coast is a center for recreation in a wild setting, including kayaking past the beaches, or hiking on the trail along the coastal cliffs. There is another headland, Kuahonu Point, on the south-east of the island.
Kauai’s climate is generally mild, although localized weather phenomena and infrequent storms have caused instances of extreme weather. At the lower elevations the annual precipitation varies from an average of about 50 inches on the windward (northeastern) shore, to less than 20 inches on the (southwestern) leeward side of the island. Average temperature ranges from 71 °F (22 °C) in February and March to 79 °F (26 °C) in August and September. Kauai’s mountainous regions offer cooler temperatures and provide a pleasant contrast to warmer coastal areas. At the Kōkeʻe state park (3200–4200 ft. ASL), day temperatures vary from an average of 45 °F (7 °C) in January to 68 °F (20 °C) in July. In the winter temperatures have been known to drop down to the 30s and 40s at Kōkeʻe state park, which holds an unofficial record low of 29 °F (-2 °C) recorded in February 1986 at Kanaloahuluhulu Meadow.
Precipitation in Kauai's mountainous regions averages 50–100 inches annually. Situated about 10 miles southeast of Kōkeʻe state park at an elevation of 5,075 feet, is the Mt. Wai’ale’ale rain gauge.Mt. Wai’ale’ale is often cited in literature as being the wettest spot on earth, although this has been disputed. Based on data for the period from 1931 through 1960 the average yearly precipitation was 460 in (1,168 cm) (U.S. Environmental Science Services Administration, 1968). Between 1949 and 2004 the average yearly precipitation at Mt. Wai’ale’ale was 374 in (881 cm) 
Not only does Kauai hold a record in average yearly precipitation, it also holds a record in hourly precipitation. During a storm on January 24–25, 1956, a rain gauge at Kauai’s former Kilauea Sugar Plantation recorded a record 12 inches (30.5 cm) of precipitation in just 60 minutes. The 12-in value for one hour is an underestimate, since the rain gauge overflowed, which may have resulted in an error by as much as an inch. An accurate measurement may have exceeded Holt, Missouri's world record 60-minute rainfall of 12 inches in 42 minutes on June 22, 1947.
During the reign of King Kamehameha, the islands of Kauaʻi and Niʻihau were the last Hawaiian Islands to join his Kingdom of Hawaiʻi. Their ruler, Kaumualiʻi, resisted Kamehameha for years. King Kamehameha twice prepared a huge armada of ships and canoes to take the islands by force, and twice failed; once due to a storm, and once due to an epidemic. In the face of the threat of a further invasion, however, Kaumualiʻi decided to join the kingdom without bloodshed, and became Kamehameha's vassal in 1810, ceding the island to the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi upon his death in 1824.
In 1815–17, Kaumualiʻi led secret negotiations with representatives of the Russian-American Companyin an attempt to gain Russia's military support against Kamehameha; however, the negotiations folded and the Russians were forced to abandon all of their presence in Kauaʻi, including Fort Elizabeth, after it was revealed that they did not have the support of Tsar Alexander I.
In 1835, Old Koloa Town opened a sugar mill. From 1906 to 1934 the office of County Clerk was held by John Mahiʻai Kāneakua who had been active in attempts to restore Queen Liliuokalani to the throne.
Tourism is Kauaʻi's largest industry. In 2007, 1,271,000 people visited Kauaʻi. The two largest groups were from the United States (84% of all visitors) and Japan (3%). As of 2003, there were a total of approximately 27,000 jobs on Kauaʻi, of which the largest sector was accommodation/food services (26%, 6,800 jobs) followed by government (15%) and retail (14.5%), with agriculture accounting for just 2.9% (780 jobs) and educational services providing just 0.7% (183 jobs). In terms of income, the various sectors that constitute the visitors industry accounted for one third of Kauai's income.On the other hand, employment is dominated by small businesses, with 87% of all nonfarm businesses having fewer than 20 employees. As of 2003, Kauaʻi's unemployment rate was 3.9%, compared to 3.0% for the entire state and 5.7% for the United States as a whole. In addition, Kauaʻi's poverty rate was 10.5%, compared to the contiguous 48 states at 10.7%.
As of mid-2004, the median price of a single-family home was $528,000, a 40% increase over 2003. As of 2003, Kauaʻi's percentage of home ownership, 48%, was significantly lower than the State's 64%, and vacation homes were a far larger part of the housing stock than the Statewide percentage (Kauaʻi 15%, State 5%). The housing prices decreased significantly in 2008. As of Spring 2014 the median price had risen to about $400,000.
In the past, sugar plantations were Kauaʻi's most important industry. In 1835 the first sugar plantation was founded on Kauaʻi and for the next century the industry would dominate the economy of Hawaii. Most of that land is now used for ranching. Kauaʻi's sole remaining sugar operation, the 118-year-old Gay & Robinson Plantation plans to transform itself into a manufacturer of sugar-cane ethanol.
Land in Kauaʻi is very fertile and is home to many varieties of fruit and other crops. Guava, coffee,sugarcane, mango, banana, papaya, avocado, star fruit, kava and pineapple are all cultivated on the island.
The city of Līhuʻe, on the island's southeast coast, is the seat of Kauaʻi County and the second largest city on the island. Kapaʻa, on the "Coconut Coast" (site of an old coconut plantation) about 6 miles (9.7 km) north of Līhuʻe, has a population of nearly 10,000, or about 50% greater than Līhuʻe.Princeville, on the island's north side, was once the capital of Kauaʻi.
Kauaʻi is home to thousands of wild chickens, who have few natural predators, as the mongoose was never introduced in Kauai as it has been on other Hawaiian islands. Kauaʻi's chickens originated from the original Polynesian settlers, who brought them as a food source. They have since bred with European chickens that have gotten free from farms and cock-fighting breeders.
Kauaʻi is home to the U.S. Navy's "Barking Sands" Pacific Missile Range Facility, on the sunny and dry western shore.
HF ("shortwave") radio station WWVH, sister station to WWV and WWVB in Ft. Collins, Colorado, is located on the west coast of Kauai about 5 km south of Barking Sands. WWVH, WWV and WWVB are operated by the US National Institute of Standards and Technology, broadcasting standard time and frequency information to the public.
The Kauaʻi Heritage Center of Hawaiian Culture and the Arts was founded in 1998. Their mission is to nurture a greater sense of appreciation and respect for the Hawaiian culture. They offer classes in Hawaiian language, hula, lei and cordage making, the lunar calendar and chanting, plus trips to cultural sites.
Important towns and cities
Cities and towns on Kauaʻi range in population from the roughly 9,500 people in Kapaʻa to tiny hamlets. The list below lists the larger or more notable of those from the northernmost end of Hawaii Route 560 to the western terminus of Hawaii Route 50
- Kapaʻa (largest town by population on Kauai)
- Līhuʻe (second-largest by population)
Located on the eastern end of the island, Lihue Airport is the aviation gateway to Kauaʻi. Lihuʻe Airport has direct routes to Honolulu, Kahului/Maui, the United States mainland, and Vancouver, Canada.
Several state highways serve Kauaʻi County:
- Hawaii Route 50, also known as Kaumualiʻi Highway, is a thirty-three mile road that stretches fromHawaii Route 56 at the junction of Rice Street in Lihuʻe to a point approximately 1/5 mile north of the northernmost entrance of the Pacific Missile Range Facility on the far western shore.
- Hawaii Route 58 stretches two miles (3 km) from Route 50 in Lihuʻe to the junction of Wapaa Road with Hawaii 51 near Nawiliwili Harbor on Kauaʻi.
- Hawaii Route 56, also known as Kuhio Highway, runs twenty-eight miles from Hawaii Route 50 at the junction of Rice Street in Lihuʻe to the junction of Hawaii Route 560 in Princeville.
- Hawaii Route 560 passes ten miles (16 km) from the junction of Route 56 in Princeville and dead ends at Keʻe Beach in Haena State Park.
Other major highways that link other parts of the Island to the main highways of Kauaʻi are:
- Hawaii Route 55 covers 7.6 miles (12.2 km) from the junction of Route 50 in Kekaha to meet withHawaii Route 550 south of Kokeʻe State Park in the Waimea Canyon.
- Hawaii Route 550 spans 15 miles (24 km) from Route 50 in Waimea to Kōkeʻe State Park.
- Hawaii Route 540 goes four miles (6 km) from Route 50 in Kalaheo to Route 50 in Eleʻele. The road is mainly an access to residential areas and Kauaʻi Coffee.
- Hawaii Route 530, also called Kōloa Road, stretches 3.4 miles (5.5 km) from Route 50 between Kalaheo and Lawai to Route 520 in Koloa. The road is mainly an alternative to Route 520 for travel from the west side to Poʻipū.
- Hawaii Route 520 runs five miles (8 km) from the "Tunnel of Trees" at Route 50 to Poʻipū on the south shore.
- Hawaii Route 570 covers one mile (1.6 km) from Route 56 in Lihuʻe to Lihuʻe Airport.
- Hawaii Route 580 spans five miles (8 km) from Route 56 in Wailua to where the road is no longer serviced just south of the Wailua Reservoir.
- Hawaii Route 581 passes five miles (8 km) from Route 580 in the Wailua Homesteads to a roundabout just west of Kapaʻa Town.
- Hawaii Route 583, also known as Maalo Road, stretches 3.9 miles (6.3 km) from Route 56 just north of Lihuʻe to dead-end at Wailua Falls Overlook in the interior.
Hawaii Scenic Byway
- Holo Holo Koloa Scenic Byway, this state designated scenic byway runs over 19 miles and connects many of Kauai's most historical and cultural sights such as the Maluhia Road (Tree Tunnel), Puhi (Spouting Horn), The National Tropical Botanical Gardens, and the Salt Beds.
Places of interest
- Alakai Wilderness Area
- Allerton Garden
- Bell stone
- Camp Naue YMCA
- Fern Grotto
- Haʻena State Park
- Hanalei Bay
- Hoʻopiʻi Falls
- Honopū Valley
- Iraivan Temple
- Kokeʻe State Park
- Limahuli Garden and Preserve
- Makaleha Mountains
- Makauwahi Cave Reserve
- McBryde Garden
- Moir Gardens
- Moloaa Bay
- Na 'Aina Kai Botanical Gardens
- Nā Pali Coast State Park
- 'Opaeka'a Falls
- Pao'a Point
- Poipu Beach Park
- Polihale State Park
- Queen's Bath
- Sleeping Giant (Nounou Mountain)
- Spouting Horn
- Wailua River
- Waimea Canyon State Park
The island of Kauaʻi has been featured in more than seventy Hollywood movies and television shows, including the musical South Pacific and Disney's 2002 animated feature film and television series Lilo & Stitch, Lilo & Stitch 2: Stitch Has a Glitch, Stitch! The Movie, and Lilo & Stitch: The Series. Scenes from South Pacific were filmed in the vicinity of Hanalei. Waimea Canyon was used in the filming of the 1993 film Jurassic Park. Parts of the island were also used for the opening scenes of the Indiana Jones film Raiders of the Lost Ark. Other movies filmed here include Six Days Seven Nights, the 1976 versionKing Kong and John Ford's 1963 film Donovan's Reef. Recent films include Tropic Thunder and a biopic of Bethany Hamilton titled Soul Surfer. A scene in the opening credits of popular TV show M*A*S*H was filmed in Kauaʻi (helicopter flying over mountain top). Some scenes from Just Go with Itand Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides were also filmed in Kauaʻi. A Perfect Getaway is set in Kauaʻi.
Parts of the 2002 film Dragonfly were filmed there (although the people and the land were presented as South American) and the producers hired extras (at least three with speaking parts) from the ancient Hawaiʻian native population, which seeks to preserve its cultural heritage, including the pre-USA name of these two islands, Atooi or Tauaʻi.
Major parts of the 1966 Elvis Presley film Paradise, Hawaiian Style were filmed at various locations on Kauaʻi. One of the most famous was the Coco Palms resort. During Hurricane Iniki, the Coco Palms was destroyed and never rebuilt, but the film showcases the resort at its peak.
The Descendants, a film by Alexander Payne released in November 2011 and featuring George Clooneyas lead actor, has major parts shot in Kauaʻi, where the main character and his cousins own ancestral lands which they are considering selling. The film is based on the 2007 novel by the Hawaiian writerKaui Hart Hemmings.
More about Kauai HERE