Hawaii’s oldest and most scenic island
Estimated to be more than five million years old, Kaua‘i is the oldest Hawaiian island—though it’s aged very well. The island lives up to its nickname, “The Garden Island,” with verdant mountains, lush rain forests and some of the most enchanting spots you’ll ever see.
Room to Move. Of the four counties in the state, Kauai’s is the least populated, with just over 63,000 residents. This yields a mere 114 people per square mile. The island itself is 552 square miles with 90 miles of coastline.
What to See
In a word, “plenty.” Bring loads of film for your camera and visit such sights as Waimea Canyon, dubbed by Mark Twain as the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific.” Head to Po‘ipu and wiggle your toes on some of the most pristine white sand beaches in the world. And make sure to explore the island’s famous North Shore, making stops at the Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge, the resort community of Princeville and heavenly Hanalei Valley. Finally, there’s the Napali Coast, whose cliffs rise 4,000 feet above the crashing surf.
Kaua‘i is the legendary home of the Menehune, a mythical race of very small people who performed legendary feats of construction and engineering. The Menehune Ditch and Alekoko Fishpond are two of the projects said to have been the work of the Menehune. Today, some scholars theorize that the Menehune may have been, in fact, descendants of the first wave of settlers who journeyed to Hawai‘i from the Marquesas in the sixth century.
While Kamehameha I is credited with bringing all the Hawaiian islands under one rule, it should be noted that the great warrior king never conquered Kaua‘i. An attempt to invade the island in 1796 was met with disaster after a fierce storm sunk many of Kamehameha’s war canoes in the channel between O‘ahu and Kaua‘i. Nevertheless, in 1810 Kaua‘i was peacefully turned over to Kamehameha to avoid any more bloodshed.
Popular Kauai Destinations
- Kauai’s official flower is the mokihana, or green berry. Grown on the slopes of Mount Wai‘ale‘ale, this tiny pea-like berry is used with maile to make leis.
- The island’s official color is purple.
Did You Know?
- The neighboring island of Ni‘ihau is considered part of Kaua‘i County. Ni‘ihau is home to about 250 residents, most of whom are pure Hawaiians.
- Averaging 466 inches of rain per year, 5,080-foot Mount Wai‘ale‘ale is considered the wettest spot on earth.
- Sugar, papayas, taro, and guava are grown commercially on the island.
- Kaua‘i is a popular setting for Hollywood blockbusters. Some of the movies filmed on the island include Raiders of the Lost Ark, Jurassic Park, Tears of the Sun, Honeymoon in Vegas, King Kong, Blue Hawai‘i, and South Pacific.