The Garden Island of Kauai
Kauai is known as the Garden Isle and is full of lush, tropical plants and warm ocean breezes. Formed some 6 million years ago, the island encompasses roughly 550 square miles and is the oldest and northernmost of the main Hawaiian Islands.
Kauai's first settlers appeared on the scene in approximately the fourth or fifth century A.D., bringing basic food items, including taro, which is used to make poi. Centuries later, Captain James Cook found Kauai on his voyage to Alaska. Kauai was the only Hawaiian island not conquered by force by King Kamehameha I. Kauai's King Kaumualii peacefully offered Kauai to Kamehameha to avoid more bloodshed.
Kauai is filled with places to explore, either on your own or with a guide. You can tour the only remaining working sugar plantation on Kauai or explore the Napali Coast, a 15-mile stretch of rugged coast only accessible via boat or hiking. Or you can hike along the 11-mile long Kalalau Trail, which begins at Ke’e Beach and includes Hanakapi’ai Beach at two miles and the incredible Hanakapi’ai Falls four miles into the trek.
There are plenty of opportunities for rafting trips, sunset cruises, or snorkeling picnics. You may want to cruise or kayak up the Wailua River – the only navigable river in Hawaii – to a lava rock grotto covered in lush green ferns.
Kilauea Lighthouse is at the northernmost point of the main Hawaiian Islands and once guided ships in from the Orient. Now a favorite tourist attraction, the ocean views, visitor center, and nearby wildlife refuge, bird sanctuary, and extinct volcano offer numerous opportunities for exploration.
And don’t miss Waimea Canyon, sometimes referred to as the Grand Canyon of the Pacific. You can explore this natural wonder on your own as you drive the Canyon Road or via guided bus tour or helicopter tour. There is a wide selection of hiking trails from beginner to adventurous, as well as a museum and Koke’e State Park.
On Kauai, you’ll find kiawe trees, blackberries, java plum, guava, eucalyptus, bamboo, sandalwood, pineapple, sugarcane, orchids, coconut palms, plumeria, hibiscus, and other tropical plants. The mokihana vine and berry are found only on Kauai. Native birds include the iwi and the state bird, the nene goose; you may also see doves, cardinals, and egrets. Marine life includes dolphins, monk seals, sea turtles, reef fish, coral reefs, whales, bandit angelfish, knifejaw, whiskered armorhead, and humuhumunukunukuapuaa. Explore and find out for yourself why Kauai is called The Garden Isle!