About Kauai, The Garden Isle

A Kauai Sunset Picture of Kalalau Valley from Kokee The Napali Coastline
South shore sunset View of Kalalau valley from Koke`e Napali Coast from above

Located in the middle of the Pacific, Kauai is the oldest and most lush and tropical of the Hawaiian islands. There are more beaches along its 90 miles of coastline consisting of fine white sand. The incomparable beauty of Kauai has earned the name the 'Garden Isle'. Lush vegetation, striking waterfalls, and tropical rainforests are abundant on this small piece of pacific real estate. Kauai attracts not only visitors from honeymooners and families to celebrities and film makers.

Roughly 33 miles at its longest point, and 25 miles at its shortest, the island averages 26 miles in diameter and encompasses 554 square miles. Because of its relatively old geologic age, Kauai's 90 miles of shoreline has more beaches per mile than any other Hawaiian Island.

Most of the interior of the island is very mountainous. Carved with steep canyons, Mount Kawaikini (5,243 feet) and Mount Waialeale (5148 feet) are Kauai's highest points. Mount Waialeale receives an average of 480 inches (40 feet) of rain per year, making it the "wettest spot on Earth." This rain water cascades over hundreds of waterfalls, down streams and rivers as it makes its way to the ocean. The Waimea River is the state's longest at 20 miles and moves 150 million gallons of water per day into the sea. Kauai's Wailua River is the state's only navigable waterway.

Not surprisingly, Kauai's interior is mostly uninhabited with its population of 51,000 living mostly along the shores in small towns like Lihue, Kapa'a, Koloa, Hanapepe, Princeville, and Hanalei.

Kauai is officially spelled "Kaua'i" with the backward apostrophe indicating a glottal stop (the way air stops in the expression "oh-oh!"). A definitive pronunciation for Kaua'i is harder to find but most sources say, "ka-wa'-ee" with the glottal stop between the wa and the ee. You'll often hear it pronounced "ka-wye'" (with the accent on the second syllable) although this would not match its official spelling.


How to speak Hawaiian

It's really quite simple to pronounce the Hawaiian language. Just change your pronunciation of the standard vowels and making sure you enunciate each vowel in a hawaiian word you will have it.

For example: Correct pronunciation of Hawaiian words requires that these English vowel sounds be adjusted from the standard A, E, I, O, U, to the corresponding:

* A=Ah, like the A in "Another"
* E= long A, like the A in "Ace"
* I= long E, like the E in "Eagle"
* O= standard O, like the O in "Ocean"
* U=a short oo, like the U in "Tune"

Kalihiwai is pronounced ka- lee-hee-why, see simple! If you want to study some more check out this page, hawaiian for dummies (link opens in new window).



There is so much to do on Kauai you will have no trouble filling up your day. There are numerous tour companies on Kauai that provide reasonable Helicopter, diving, boating, and movie tours.

  • Numerous beaches
  • Scenic driving routes
  • Helicopter Tours
  • Boat Tours (watch the dolphins, whales or see the Napali coast from the water)
  • Horseback riding
  • Excellent biking, mountain and touring
  • Diving excursions
  • Kayaking
  • Snorkeling (practically anywhere!)
  • Surfing
  • Golfing
  • Fishing
  • Hiking
  • Or just relaxing!

For information on activities in hawaii check out these pages: Kauai Beaches Dining & Entertainment Kauai Horseback riding Helicopter Tours



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