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Nickname: The Garden Island
Kauai from space oriented.jpg
August 1989 satellite photo
Map of Hawaii highlighting Kauai.svg
Location in Hawai?i
Location 22°05?N 159°30?W / 22.083°N 159.500°W / 22.083; -159.500
Area 562.3 sq mi (1,456 km2)
Area rank 4th largest Hawaiian Island
Highest elevation 5,243 ft (1,598.1 m)
Highest point Kawaikini
United States
Flower Mokihana (Melicope anisata)[1]
Color Poni (Purple)
Largest settlement Kapa'a
Population 65,689 (2008[2])
Pop. density 106 /sq mi (40.9 /km2)

Kaua?i, anglicized as Kauai[a] (; Hawaiian: [k?'wi]), 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 these islands and the 21st largest island in the United States.[3] Known also as the "Garden Isle", Kaua?i lies 105 miles (169 km) across the Kaua?i Channel, northwest of O?ahu. This island is the site of Waimea Canyon State Park.

The United States Census Bureau defines Kaua?i as census tracts 401 through 409 of Kauai County, Hawai?i, which comprises all of the county except for the islands of Ka'ula, Lehua and Ni?ihau. The 2010 United States Census population of the island was 67,091.[4] The most populous town was Kapa?a.


In 1778, Captain James Cook arrived at Waimea Bay, the first European known to have reached the Hawai?ian islands. He named the archipelago after his patron the 6th Earl of Sandwich, George Montagu.[5]

During the reign of King Kamehameha, the islands of Kaua?i and Ni?ihau were the last Hawai?ian Islands to join his Kingdom of Hawai?i. Their ruler, Kaumuali?i, 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, Kaumuali?i decided to join the kingdom without bloodshed, and became Kamehameha's vassal in 1810. He ceded the island to the Kingdom of Hawai?i upon his death in 1824.[5]

Schäffer affair

In 1815, a ship from the Russian-American Company was wrecked on the island. In 1816, an agreement was signed by Kaumuali?i to allow the Russians to build Fort Elizabeth. It was an attempt by Kaumuali'i to gain support from the Russians against Kamehameha I. Construction was begun in 1817, but in July of that year under mounting resistance of Native Hawaiians and American traders the Russians were expelled. The settlement on Kauai has been considered an abrupt instance of a Pacific outpost of the Russian Empire per se.

Old Sugar Mill of Koloa

In 1835, Old Koloa Town opened a sugar mill.[5] From 1906 to 1934 the office of County Clerk was held by John Mahi?ai K?neakua, who had been active in attempts to restore Queen Liliuokalani to the throne after the United States takeover of Hawai?i in 1893.[6]

Etymology and language

Hawaiian narrative locates the name's origin in the legend of Hawai?iloa, the Polynesian navigator credited with discovery of the Hawai?ian Islands. The story relates how he named the island of Kaua?i after a favorite son; a possible translation of Kaua?i is "place around the neck", describing how a father would carry a favorite child. Another possible translation is "food season".[7]

Kaua?i was known for its distinct dialect of the Hawaiian language; this survives on Ni?ihau. While the standard language today adopts the dialect of Hawai?i island, which has the sound [k], the Kaua?i dialect was known for pronouncing this as [t]. In effect, Kaua?i dialect retained the old pan-Polynesian /t/, while "standard" Hawai?i dialect has changed it to the [k].[clarification needed] Therefore, the native name for Kaua?i was said as Taua?i, and the major settlement of Kapa?a would have been pronounced as Tapa?a.


Kaua?i's origins are volcanic, the island having been formed by the passage of the Pacific Plate over the Hawaii hotspot. At approximately five million years old, it is the oldest of the main islands[8]. The highest peak on this mountainous island is Kawaikini at 5,243 feet (1,598 m).[9]

The second highest peak is Mount Wai?ale?ale near the center of the island, 5,148 ft (1,569 m) above sea level. One of the wettest spots on earth, with an annual average rainfall of 460 inches (1,200 cm), is located on the east side of Mount Wai?ale?ale. 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, which is part of Waimea Canyon State Park. At 3,000 ft (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.[10] The headland, Kuahonu Point, is on the south-east of the island.


Kaua?i's climate is tropical, with generally humid and stable conditions year round, although 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 in Lihu'e, the county seat, ranges from 78 °F (26 °C) in February to 85 °F (29 °C) in August and September. Kaua?i's mountainous regions offer cooler temperatures and provide a pleasant contrast to the warm coastal areas. At the K?ke?e state park, 3,200-4,200 ft (980-1,280 m) 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 K?ke?e state park, which holds an unofficial record low of 29 °F (-2 °C) recorded in February 1986 at Kanaloahuluhulu Meadow.

Precipitation in Kaua?i's mountainous regions averages 50-100 in (1,300-2,500 mm) annually. Situated about 10 mi (16 km) southeast of K?ke?e state park at an elevation of 5,075 ft (1,547 m), is the Mt. Wai?ale?ale rain gauge.[11] 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 (12,000 mm) (U.S. Environmental Science Services Administration, 1968). Between 1949 and 2004 the average yearly precipitation at Mt. Wai?ale?ale was 374 in (9,500 mm).[12]

Not only does Kaua?i 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 Kaua?i's former Kilauea Sugar Plantation recorded a record 12 in (300 mm) of precipitation in just 60 minutes. The 12 in (300 mm) 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.[13] An accurate measurement may have exceeded Holt, Missouri's world record 60-minute rainfall of 12 inches in 42 minutes on June 22, 1947.[14]

Time zone

Hawaii Standard Time is observed on Kaua?i year-round. When most states are on daylight saving time, for example, the time on Kaua?i is three hours behind the West Coast of the United States and six hours behind the East Coast.[15]


The commercial area in Port Allen

Tourism is Kaua?i's largest industry. In 2007, 1,271,000 people visited Kaua?i. The two largest groups were from the continental United States (84% of all visitors) and Japan (3%).[16] As of 2003, there were a total of approximately 27,000 jobs on Kaua?i, 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 2.9% (780 jobs) and educational services providing 0.7% (183 jobs).[17] In terms of income, the various sectors that constitute the visitors' industry accounted for one third of Kaua?i's income.[17] Employment is dominated by small businesses, with 87% of all non-farm businesses having fewer than 20 employees.[17] As of 2003, Kaua?i's unemployment rate was 3.9%, compared to 3.0% for the entire state and 5.7% for the United States as a whole. Kaua?i's poverty rate was 10.5%, compared to the contiguous 48 states at 10.7%.[17]

As of mid-2004, the median price of a single-family home was $528,000, a 40% increase over 2003. As of 2003, Kaua?i'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 (Kaua?i 15%, State 5%).[17] The housing prices decreased significantly in 2008. As of Spring 2014 the median price had risen to about $400,000.

From the 1830s through the mid-20th century, sugarcane plantations were Kaua?i's most important industry. In 1835 the first sugarcane plantation was founded on Kaua?i, and for the next century the industry would dominate the economy of Hawai?i.[18] Most of that land is now used for ranching.[16] Kaua?i's sole remaining sugar operation, the 118-year-old Gay & Robinson Plantation, plans to convert its operation to cultivating and processing sugarcane ethanol.[16]

Kaua?i 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 Fort Collins, Colorado, is located on the west coast of Kaua?i about 3 miles (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.

Land in Kaua?i is very fertile; farmers raise many varieties of fruit and other crops. Guava, coffee, sugarcane, mango, banana, papaya, avocado, star fruit, kava, noni and pineapple are all cultivated on the island.


Kaua?i Island Utility Cooperative (KIUC) is an electric cooperative located on the island of Kaua?i in Hawai?i. With 24,000 member-owners represented by a 9-member Board of Directors, it is the only electric cooperative in the state of Hawaii[19]

In the 1970s, Kaua?i burned sugar cane waste to supply most of their electricity.

As of 2008, the majority of the Kaua?i's electricity was produced by importing liquid petroleum, costing $69.3 million in 2006 and $83 million in 2007.[20] By 2011, 92% of KIUC's power came from diesel.[21]

As of 2017, KIUC's fuel mix was 56% fossil fuels, 9% hydroelectric, 12% biomass and 23% solar. KIUC has successfully integrated large-scale solar into its grid so that, during daylight hours on most sunny days, 97 percent or more of its generation comes from renewable sources. KIUC offers $1,000 rebates to residential customers who have solar water heating systems installed on their homes by Energy Wise Participating Contractors. In March 2017, KIUC opened a 13 MW / 52 MWh battery next to the 12 MW Kapaia solar plant[22] for 13.9¢/kWh.[21] A 2018 project for 28 MW solar with 20 MW / 100 MWh batteries is priced at 11¢/kWh.[23]

Towns and cities

The city of L?hu?e, on the island's southeast coast, is the seat of Kaua?i County and the second largest city on the island. Kapa?a, on the "Coconut Coast" (site of an old coconut plantation) about 6 miles (9.7 km) north of L?hu?e, has a population of nearly 10,000, or about 50% greater than L?hu?e. Princeville, on the island's north side, was once the capital of Kaua?i.

Anahola Bay is a snorkeling and swimming beach with clear pools and a long coral reef. Driving directions in the Kauai Trailblazer guide.
Hanalei town with a view of Mt. Na Molokama, and M?malahoa
Northeastern coast of Kaua?i, near K?lauea

Cities and towns on Kaua?i range in population from the roughly 9,500 people in Kapa?a 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



Located on the southeastern side of the island, Lihue Airport is the aviation gateway to Kaua?i. L?hu?e Airport has direct routes to Honolulu, Kahului/Maui, the United States mainland, and Vancouver, Canada.


Several state highways serve Kaua?i County:

  • Hawaii Route 50, also known as Kaumuali?i Highway, is a thirty-three mile road that stretches from Hawaii Route 56 at the junction of Rice Street in L?hu?e 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 2 miles (3.2 km) from Route 50 in L?hu?e to the junction of Wapaa Road with Hawaii 51 near Nawiliwili Harbor on Kaua?i.
  • Hawaii Route 56, also known as Kuhio Highway, runs 28 miles (45 km) from Hawaii Route 50 at the junction of Rice Street in L?hu?e to the junction of Hawai?i Route 560 in Princeville.
  • Hawaii Route 560 passes 10 miles (16 km) from the junction of Route 56 in Princeville and dead ends at Ke?e Beach in Ha?ena State Park.

Other major highways that link other parts of the Island to the main highways of Kaua?i are:

  • Hawaii Route 55 covers 7.6 miles (12.2 km) from the junction of Route 50 in Kekaha to meet with Hawaii Route 550 south of Koke?e State Park in the Waimea Canyon.
  • Hawaii Route 550 spans 15 miles (24 km) from Route 50 in Waimea to K?ke?e State Park.
  • Hawaii Route 540 goes 4 miles (6.4 km) from Route 50 in Kalaheo to Route 50 in Ele?ele. The road is mainly an access to residential areas and Kaua?i Coffee.
  • Hawaii Route 530, also called K?loa 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 Po?ip?.
  • Hawaii Route 520 runs 5 miles (8.0 km) from the "Tunnel of Trees" at Route 50 to Po?ip? on the south shore.
  • Hawaii Route 570 covers 1 mile (1.6 km) from Route 56 in L?hu?e to L?hu?e Airport.
  • Hawaii Route 580 spans 5 miles (8.0 km) from Route 56 in Wailua to where the road is no longer serviced just south of the Wailua Reservoir.
  • Hawaii Route 581 passes 5 miles (8.0 km) from Route 580 in the Wailua Homesteads to a roundabout just west of Kapa?a Town.
  • Hawaii Route 583, also known as Maalo Road, stretches 3.9 miles (6.3 km) from Route 56 just north of L?hu?e 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 (31 km) and connects many of Kaua?i'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.

Mass transit

The Kaua?i Bus is the public transportation service of the County of Kaua?i.

Places of interest

Some of Kaua?i's feral chickens at Lydgate Beach Park

Kaua?i is home to thousands of wild chickens, or moa in Hawaiian, who have few natural predators, as the mongoose was never introduced in Kaua?i as it has been on other Hawaiian islands.[24][25] Kaua?i'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 cockfighting breeders.

The Kaua?i Heritage Center of Hawai?ian Culture and the Arts was founded in 1998. Their mission is to nurture a greater sense of appreciation and respect for the Hawai?ian culture. They offer classes in Hawai?ian language, hula, lei and cordage making, the lunar calendar and chanting, plus trips to cultural sites.

Kaua'i is home to many shave ice shops, a tradition in the islands.

The Spouting Horn: located on the southern coast of Kaua?i
Waimea Canyon and Waipo'o Falls
A view of the Hanalei Valley in Northern Kaua?i. The Hanalei River runs through the valley and 60% of Hawai?i's taro is grown in its fields.
A view of the Hanalei Valley in Northern Kaua?i. The Hanalei River runs through the valley and 60% of Hawai?i's taro is grown in its fields.
view of the N? Pali coastline from the ocean. It is part of the N? Pali Coast State Park which encompasses 6,175 acres (20 km2) of land and is located on the northwest side of Kaua?ii.
A view of the N? Pali coastline from the ocean. It is part of the N? Pali Coast State Park which encompasses 6,175 acres (20 km2) of land and is located on the northwest side of Kaua?i.
A view of the Kalalau Valley on Kaua?i's N? Pali Coast from the Kalalau Lookout.
A view of the Kalalau Valley on Kaua?i's N? Pali Coast from the Kalalau Lookout.

In films

The island of Kaua?i has been featured in more than seventy Hollywood movies and television shows, including the musical South Pacific and Disney's 2002 animated feature film Lilo & Stitch along with its franchise's three sequel films (2003's Stitch! The Movie, 2005's Lilo & Stitch 2: Stitch Has a Glitch, and 2006's Leroy & Stitch) and first television series (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 and its 2015 sequel Jurassic World. Scenes from the 2016 comedy film Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates were also filmed. 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 version King Kong[26] 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 Kaua?i (helicopter flying over mountain top). Some scenes from Just Go with It, George of the Jungle and Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides were also filmed in Kaua?i.[27]A Perfect Getaway is set in Kaua?i.

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 Hawai?ian native population, which seeks to preserve its cultural heritage,[28] including the pre-USA name of these two islands, Atooi or Taua?i.[29][30]

Major acts of two Elvis Presley films, 1962's Blue Hawaii and 1966's Paradise, Hawaiian Style, were filmed at various locations on Kaua?i. Both films boast scenes shot at the famous Coco Palms resort. Hurricane Iniki destroyed the Coco Palms and it was subsequently never rebuilt. However, Paradise, Hawaiian Style in particular, showcases the resort at its peak for posterity's sake. Coco Palms resort is now in the process of being torn down and rebuilt.

The Descendants, a film by Alexander Payne released in November 2011 and featuring George Clooney as lead actor, has major parts shot in Kaua?i, 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 Hawai?ian writer Kaui Hart Hemmings.

See also


  1. ^ The spelling with the ?okina accent (as "Kaua?i") indicates syllabic "i" with the respelled pronunciation of "cow-Eye" or "cow-a-ee". Sometimes, an apostrophe or grave is used, as: Kaua'i or Kaua`i.


  1. ^ "Mokihana". Native Hawaiian Plants. Kapi?olani Community College. Archived from the original on 2009-03-23. Retrieved . 
  2. ^ "Population estimates, July 1, 2015 US Census Kauai County". US Census Bureau. Archived from the original on July 13, 2011. 
  3. ^ "Table 5.08 - Land Area of Islands: 2000" (PDF). 2004 State of Hawaii Data Book. State of Hawaii. 2004. Retrieved . 
  4. ^ Census Tracts 401 through 409, Kaua?i County United States Census Bureau
  5. ^ a b c "Kauai History". Hawaiian Tourism Authority. Retrieved . 
  6. ^ Soboleski, Hank (Aug 10, 2013). "John Mahiai Kaneakua". The Garden Island. Retrieved 2014. 
  7. ^ Pukui, Mary Kawena; Elbert, Samuel H.; Mookini, Esther T. (1974). Place Names of Hawaii. University of Hawaii Press. ISBN 978-0-8248-0524-1. 
  8. ^ Juvik, Sonia P.; Juvik, James O.; Paradise, Thomas R. (1998). Atlas of Hawai'i. University of Hawaii Press. pp. 3-6. ISBN 978-0-8248-2125-8. 
  9. ^ "Table 5.11 - Elevations of Major Summits" (PDF). 2004 State of Hawaii Data Book. State of Hawaii. 2004. Retrieved . 
  10. ^ "Trail Information - Kalalau Trail". 
  11. ^ Henning, D. (1967). Mt. Waialeale. Wetter und Leben (Vienna). 19(5-6), 93-100
  12. ^ USGS,NWIS
  13. ^ Schmidli, R.J. (1983). Weather extremes (NOAA Technical Memorandum NWS WR-28, Revised.) Salt Lake City, UT: NOAA.
  14. ^ National Climatic Data Center
  15. ^ "Discover Kauai". H&S Publishing, LLC. 
  16. ^ a b c "Kauai Economic Outlook Summary: Tourism Woes Mean No Growth Through 2009". University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization. 2008. Retrieved . 
  17. ^ a b c d e "Kauai Economic Development Plan 2005-2015" (PDF). County of Kauai Office of Economic Development,Kauai Economic Development Board. 2004. Retrieved . 
  18. ^ "Kauai Plantation Railway - Kauai Sugar Plantations". 
  19. ^ [1] Kaua?i Island Utility Cooperative website.
  20. ^ Flynn, Meghan. Kauai Island Utility Cooperative. Energy Today Magazine. September 30, 2008
  21. ^ a b Wagman, David (16 March 2017). "Tesla Teams With Tiny Hawaiian Utility to Store Solar". IEEE. Retrieved 2017. as 2011 we were 92% dependent on fossil fuel generation," primarily diesel and naphtha. 
  22. ^ "Tesla launches its Powerpack 2 project in Hawaii, will help Island of Kauai get more out of its solar power". March 8, 2017. Retrieved 2017. 
  23. ^ "AES' New Kauai Solar-Storage 'Peaker' Shows How Fast Battery Costs Are Falling". January 16, 2017. Retrieved 2017. 
  24. ^ Kenneth Chang (April 6, 2015). "In Hawaii, Chickens Gone Wild". The New York Times. Retrieved 2015. Dr. Gering speculated that until recent decades, the Kaua?i chickens were largely like the ones that the Polynesians brought long ago, living in small parts of the island and modest in number. Then they began mating with the escaped farm chickens or their descendants, with greater fecundity and a wider range of habitats. 
  25. ^ E. Gering; M. Johnsson; P. Willis; T. Getty; D. Wright (March 6, 2015). "Mixed ancestry and admixture in Kaua?i's feral chickens: invasion of domestic genes into ancient Red Junglefowl reservoirs". Molecular Ecology. 24: 2112-2124. doi:10.1111/mec.13096. PMID 25655399. our data support the hypotheses that (i) Kaua?i's feral G. gallus descend from recent invasion(s) of domestic chickens into an ancient Red Junglefowl reservoir and (ii) feral chickens exhibit greater phenotypic diversity than candidate source populations. 
  26. ^ "King Kong (1976) Filming Locations" imdb.com
  27. ^ "Kauai Film Locations | GoHawaii.com". www.gohawaii.com. Retrieved . 
  28. ^ Background of loss of language and culture: the takeover of Hawai?i by the USA in 1893.
  29. ^ Current interest in the language and culture.
  30. ^ "Kauai Chiefs to Change to Original Name of Island: Atooi". UniLang. 

Further reading

External links

Coordinates: 22°05?N 159°30?W / 22.083°N 159.500°W / 22.083; -159.500

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