Overview - Kauai


The Garden Isle

Part I: Overview, and Cultural / Historical Sites and Attractions


Overview of Kaua‘i


Land Area: 552.3 square miles (1,430.5 sq. km).

Size Comparison: 4th largest Hawaiian Island.

Island Emblem: Mokihana—Fruit of Mokihana (Pelea anisata).

Highest Elevation: 5,243 feet (1,598 m), at the summit of Mt. Kawaikini.

Official Nickname: The Garden Isle.

Island Color: Purple


Kaua‘i Chamber of Commerce, 808-245-7363, www.kauaichamber.org.

Kaua‘i Visitors Bureau, 808-245-3971, www.kauaivisitorsbureau.com; kauai@hvcb.org.

Kaua‘i Visitor Information, 800-262-1400.

County of Kaua‘i Office of Tourism, www.Kauai-hawaii.com.

State Camping Permits, 808-274-3444, www.state.hi.us/dlnr/dsp/dsp.html.

County Camping Permits, 808-241-6660, www.kauaigov.org/parks.htm.

[Illustration: Map—Kaua‘i]

Kaua‘i is the oldest of the eight main Hawaiian Islands, having formed about five million years ago. The age of the island accounts for its many stunning features, from the deeply carved valleys of Waimea Canyon to the steep cliffs and spires of the Nāpali Coast.

Kaua‘i is about 33 miles (53 km) long and 25 miles (40 km) wide, with about 90 miles (145 km) of coastline, including the most beach per mile of coastline of any of the eight main Hawaiian Islands. Kaua‘i is known for its scenic, rugged mountains as well as its pristine, white-sand beaches.

Kaua‘i is also known for resisting the rule of King Kamehameha I long after he conquered the other Hawaiian Islands. In 1810, Kaua‘i’s paramount ruler, King Kaumuali‘i, ceded the island of Kaua‘i to King Kamehameha to avoid impending war against Kamehameha’s powerful army.

King Kamehameha had twice earlier attempted to invade Kaua‘i, but was not successful (see Chapter 11, Timeline: 1796, April; 1804.) An ancient proverb tells of Kaua‘i’s warriors: “O Kaua‘i nui moku lehua, ‘āina nui makekau,” (“Great Kaua‘i, isle of warriors and land of men ever on the defense”).[i]

Today Kaua‘i has a resident population of about 58,000 people. The island’s major industry is tourism, but agricultural enterprises also bring significant income. Kaua‘i’s main agricultural products are sugarcane, coffee, papaya, pineapple, guava, and tropical flowers.

The 5,148-foot (1,569-m) summit of Kaua‘i’s Mt. Wai‘ale‘ale is one of the rainiest spots in the world. The single rainiest year on record was in 1982 when 681 inches (1,730 cm) of rain were recorded at the mountain’s peak.

Wai‘ale‘ale’s average annual rainfall is 451 inches (1,146 cm), the highest in the world. This annual average rainfall exceeds even India’s Cherrapunji Village, which received 905 inches (2,299 cm) of rainfall in 1861, but has an average annual rainfall of just 428 inches (1,087 cm).

Scientists think Wai‘ale‘ale’s actual rainfall may be even more than 451 inches (1,146 cm), because researchers have seen the high winds at the summit blow the rain nearly horizontally over the gauges. Automated gauges atop Wai‘ale‘ale now relay weather information via satellite.

Annual Kaua‘i Events include:

Ø Waimea Town Celebration (February, 335-2824)

Ø Kaua‘i Marathon (March, 826-6244)

Ø Prince Kūhiō Celebration of the Arts (March, 742-3770)

Ø Banana Poka Festival (May)

Ø Kaua‘i Hula Exhibition (June, 335-6466)

Ø Koloa [Kōloa] Plantation Days Celebration

(July, www.koloaplantationdays.com)

Ø Kaua‘i Polynesian Festival (August, http://kauaipolynesianfestival.50megs.com)

Ø Kaua‘i Mokihana Festival (September, www.kauai.net/mokihana)

Ø Eōe Emmalani I Alaka‘i Festival (October, 335-9975)

Ø PGA Grand Slam of Golf (December, www.pga.com)

Prince Albert Festival

[i] p. 266, Pukui, Mary Kawena. ‘Ōlelo No‘eau: Hawaiian Proverbs & Poetical Sayings. Honolulu: Bishop Museum Press, 1983. Proverb 2440.