Kauai, () anglicized as Kauai ( ), is geologically the second-oldest of the main
Hawaiian Islands The Hawaiian Islands ( haw, Mokupuni o Hawai‘i) are an archipelago of eight major islands, several atolls, numerous smaller islets, and seamounts in the Pacific Ocean, North Pacific Ocean, extending some from the Hawaii (island), island o ...
Niʻihau Niihau (Hawaiian language, Hawaiian: ), anglicized as Niihau ( ), is the westernmost List of islands of Hawaii, main and seventh largest inhabited island in Hawaii. It is southwest of Kauai, Kauaʻi across the Channels of the Hawaiian Islands#Kaul ...
). With an area of 562.3 square miles (1,456.4 km2), it is the fourth-largest of these islands and the List of islands of the United States by area, 21st largest island in the United States. Known also as the "Garden Isle", Kauai lies 73 miles (117 km) across the Channels of the Hawaiian Islands#Kaʻieʻie Waho Channel, Kauai Channel, northwest of Oahu, Oahu. This island is the site of Waimea Canyon State Park and the Na Pali Coast State Park. The United States Census Bureau defines Kauai as census tracts 401 through 409 of Kauai County, Hawaii, Kauai County, Hawaii, which comprises all of the county except for the islands of Kaʻula, Lehua and Niihau, Niihau. The 2020 United States Census population of the island was 73,298. The most populous town was Kapaa, Hawaii, Kapaa.


Polynesian inhabitants settled on the island hundreds of years before the arrival of Europeans, as shown by excavations dating back to as early as 200 A.D. to 600 A.D. These first inhabitants, originally from the Marquesas Islands, lived undisturbed for around five centuries until a second wave of seafarers arrived by sea-canoe from Tahiti. Many Hawaiian traditions and belief structures are rooted in the religion and practices that arrived with these Tahitians. In 1778, Captain James Cook arrived at Waimea Bay, the first European known to have reached the Hawaiian islands. He named the archipelago the "Sandwich Isles" after his patron, the 6th Earl of Sandwich, George Montagu. During the reign of Kamehameha I, King Kamehameha, the islands of Kauai and Niihau were the last Hawaiian Islands to join his Kingdom of Hawaii, Kingdom of Hawaii. Their ruler, Kaumualii, Kaumualii, 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, Kaumualii decided to join the kingdom without bloodshed, and became Kamehameha's vassal in 1810. He ceded the island to the Kingdom of Hawaii upon his death in 1824.

Schäffer affair

In 1815, a ship from the Russian-American Company was wrecked on the island. In 1816, an agreement was signed by Kaumualiʻi to allow the Russians to build Russian Fort Elizabeth, Fort Elizabeth. It was an attempt by Kaumualiʻi 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 Kauaʻi was an instance of a Pacific outpost of the Russian Empire.

Valdemar Knudsen

Valdemar Emil Knudsen was a Norwegian people, Norwegian plantation pioneer who arrived on Kauai in 1857. Knudsen, or "Kanuka", originally arrived in Koloa, Hawaii, Koloa where he managed Grove Farm (Lihue, Hawaii), Grove Farm, but later sought a warmer land and purchased the leases to Mana, Hawaii, Mana and Kekaha, Hawaii, Kekaha, where he became a successful sugarcane plantation owner. Knudsen settled in Waiawa, between Mana and Kekaha, immediately across the channel from
Niʻihau Niihau (Hawaiian language, Hawaiian: ), anglicized as Niihau ( ), is the westernmost List of islands of Hawaii, main and seventh largest inhabited island in Hawaii. It is southwest of Kauai, Kauaʻi across the Channels of the Hawaiian Islands#Kaul ...
Island. His son, Eric Alfred Knudsen, was born in Waiawa. Knudsen was appointed land administrator by Kamehameha IV, King Kamehameha for an area covering 400 km2, and was given the title ''konohiki'' as well as a position as a nobility under the king. Knudsen, who spoke fluent Hawaiian language, Hawaiian, later became an elected representative and an influential politician on the island. Knudsen lends his name to the Knudsen Gap, a narrow pass between Hã’upu Ridge and the Kahili Ridge. Its primary function was as a sugar farm planted by the Knudsen family.

Old Sugar Mill of Koloa

In 1835, Old Koloa Town opened a sugar mill. From 1906 to 1934 the office of County Clerk was held by John Mahiʻai Kāneakua, who had been active in attempts to restore Queen Liliuokalani to the throne after the United States takeover of Hawaii in 1893.

Etymology and language

Hawaiian narrative locates the name's origin in the legend of Hawaiiloa, Hawaiiloa, the Polynesian navigator credited with discovery of the Hawaiian Islands. The story relates how he named the island of Kauai after a favorite son; a possible translation of Kauai is "place around the neck", describing how a father would carry a favorite child. Another possible translation is "food season". Kauai was known for its distinct dialect of the Hawaiian language; this survives on Niihau, Niihau. While the standard language today adopts the dialect of Hawaii (island), Hawaii island, which has the sound , the Kauai dialect was known for pronouncing this as . In effect, Kauai dialect retained the old pan-Polynesian , while "standard" Hawaii dialect has changed it to the . Therefore, the native name for Kauai was said as Tauai, and the major settlement of Kapaa, Hawaii, Kapaa would have been pronounced as ''Tapaa.''


Kauai's origins are volcano, 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. It consists of a large eroded shield volcano with a diameter summit caldera and two flank calderas. Evolution of Hawaiian volcanoes#Rejuvenated_stage, Rejuvenation of the volcano 1.40–0.6 million years ago resulted in the eruption of lavas and volcanic cone, cones over the eastern two-thirds of the island. The highest peak on this mountainous island is Kawaikini at . The second highest peak is Mount Waialeale, Mount Waialeale near the center of the island, above sea level. One of the wettest spots on earth, with an annual average rainfall of , is located on the east side of Mount Waialeale. 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, Kauai County, Hawaii, Waimea town is located at the mouth of the Waimea River (Kauai), Waimea River, whose flow formed Waimea Canyon, one of the world's most scenic canyons, which is part of Waimea Canyon State Park. At 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. The headlands Kamala Point, Kawelikoa Point, Kuahonu Point, and Molehu Point are on the south-east of the island, and Makaokahaʻi Point is at the south of the island.


Kauai'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 on the windward (northeastern) shore to less than on the (southwestern) leeward side of the island. The average temperature in Lihu'e, the county seat, ranges from in February to in August and September. Kauai's mountainous regions offer cooler temperatures and provide a pleasant contrast to the warm coastal areas. At the Kōkeʻe state park, Above sea level, ASL, day temperatures vary from an average of in January to in July. In the winter, temperatures have been known to drop down to the 30s and 40s at Kōkeʻe state park, which holds an unofficial record low of recorded in February 1986 at Kanaloahuluhulu Meadow. Precipitation in Kauai's mountainous regions averages annually. Situated about southeast of Kōkeʻe state park at an elevation of , is the Mt. Waialeale rain gauge. Mt. Waialeale 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 (U.S. Environmental Science Services Administration, 1968). Between 1949 and 2004, the average yearly precipitation at Mt. Waialeale was . Not only does Kauai 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 Kauai's former Kilauea Sugar Plantation recorded a record of precipitation in just 60 minutes. The 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. An accurate measurement may have exceeded Holt, Missouri's world-record rainfall of 12 inches in 42 minutes on June 22, 1947.

Time zone

Hawaii–Aleutian Time Zone, Hawaii Standard Time (UTC−10:00) is observed on Kauai year-round. When most states are on daylight saving time, for example, the time on Kauai is three hours behind the West Coast of the United States and six hours behind the East Coast of the United States, East Coast.

River System

List of rivers in Kauai by length. *Waimea River (Kauai) , Waimea River *Hanalei River *Hanapēpē River *Wainiha River, Hawaii, Wainiha River *Wailua River *Makaweli River, Kauai, Makaweli River *Huleia River *Kalihiwai River *Anahola River *Lumahaʻi River *Kōʻula River *Olokele River *Kilauea Stream *Waikomo Stream


List of waterfalls in Kauai *Halii Falls *Hanakapiai Falls *Hinalele Falls *Kalihiwai Falls *Kilauea Falls *Manawaiopuna Falls *Opaekaa Falls *Waialae Falls *Wailua Falls *Waipoo Falls


Tourism in Hawaii, Tourism is Kauai's largest industry. In 2007, 1,271,000 people visited Kauai. The two largest groups were from the continental United States (84% of all visitors) and Japan (3%). As of 2003, there were a total of approximately 27,000 jobs on Kauai, 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). In terms of income, the various sectors that constitute the visitors' industry accounted for one third of Kauai's income. Employment is dominated by small businesses, with 87% of all non-farm businesses having fewer than 20 employees. As of 2003, Kauai's unemployment rate was 3.9%, compared to 3.0% for the entire state and 5.7% for the United States as a whole. Kauai's poverty rate was 10.5%, compared to the contiguous 48 states at 10.7%. As of mid-2004, the median price of a single-family home was $528,000, a 40% increase over 2003. As of 2003, Kauai'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 (Kauai 15%, State 5%). 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 Kauai's most important industry. In 1835 the first sugarcane plantation was founded on Kauai, and for the next century the industry would dominate the economy of Hawaii. Most of that land is now used for ranching. Kauai's sole remaining sugarcane operation, the 118-year-old Gay & Robinson Plantation, plans to convert its operation to cultivating and processing sugarcane ethanol. Kauai is home to the U.S. Navy's "Barking Sands" Pacific Missile Range Facility, on the sunny and dry western shore. High frequency, HF ("shortwave radio, shortwave") radio station WWVH, sister station to WWV (radio station), WWV and WWVB in Fort Collins, Colorado, is located on the west coast of Kauai about 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 Kauaʻi is very fertile; farmers raise many varieties of fruit and other crops. Guava, coffee, sugarcane, mango, banana, papaya, avocado, carambola, star fruit, kava, Morinda citrifolia, noni and pineapple are all cultivated on the island.


Kauaʻi Island Utility Cooperative (KIUC) is a not-for-profit utility cooperative, electric cooperative headquartered in Lihue, Hawaii, Līhue, which provides electricity for the island. With 24,000 member-owners who elect a 9-member Board of Directors, it is the only electric cooperative in the state of Hawaii. In the 1970s, Kauaʻi burned sugarcane waste to supply most of their electricity. By 2008, transition of energy sources and growth in generating capacity had occurred, with the majority of the Kauaʻi's electricity now produced by importing liquid petroleum. In 2006 and 2007, the cost of the inputs cost $69.3 million and $83 million, respectively. By 2011, 92% of KIUC's power came from diesel. By early 2017, KIUC's fuel mix was 56% fossil fuels, 9% hydroelectric, 12% biomass and 23% solar power, solar. KIUC had 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 Tesla Energy 13 MW / 52 MWh battery next to the 12 MW Kapaia solar plant for 13.9¢/kWh. In December 2018, KIUC opened an AES Distributed Energy project for 20 MW solar with 20 MW / 100 MWh batteries priced at 11.1¢/kWh.

Towns and communities

The town of Lihue, Hawaii, Līhue, on the island's southeastern coast, is the seat of Kauai County, Hawaii, Kauai County and the second largest town on the island. Kapaa, on the "Coconut Coast" (site of an old coconut plantation) about north of Līhue, has a population of over 10,000, or about 50% greater than Līhue. Princeville, Hawaii, Princeville, on the island's north side, was once the capital of Kauai. Communities on Kauai range in population from the roughly 10,000 people in Kapaa 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:

Kauai Towns and Villages by population

* Haʻena State Park - 550 * Wainiha, Hawaii, Wainiha - 419 * Hanalei, Hawaii, Hanalei - 450 * Princeville, Hawaii, Princeville - 2,158 * Kalihiwai, Hawaii, Kalihiwai - 428 * Kilauea, Hawaii, Kilauea - 3,014 * Anahola, Hawaii, Anahola - 2,311 * Kapaa, Hawaii, Kapaa - 11,652 * Wailua, Kauai, Wailua - 2,359 * Hanamaulu, Hawaii, Hanamāulu - 4,994 * Lihue, Hawaii, Līhue - 8,004 * Wailua Homesteads, Hawaii , Wailua Homesteads - 5,863 * Puhi, Hawaii, Puhi - 3,380 * Poipu, Hawaii, Poipū - 1,299 * Koloa, Hawaii, Kōloa - 2,231 * Lawai, Hawaii, Lāwai - 2,578 * Kalaheo, Hawaii, Kalāheo - 4,996 * ʻEleʻele - 2,515 * Hanapepe, Hawaii, Hanapēpe - 2,678 * Kaumakani, Hawaii, Kaumakani - 749 * Waimea, Kauai County, Hawaii, Waimea - 2,057 * Kekaha, Hawaii, Kekaha - 3,715 * Pakala Village, Hawaii , Pakala - 294 * Kealia, Hawaii, Kealia - 103



Located on the southeastern side of the island, Lihue Airport is the only commercial airport with commercial airline services on Kauai. Līhue Airport has direct routes to Honolulu International Airport, Honolulu, Kahului Airport, Kahului/Maui, Kona International Airport, Kona/Hawaii, the United States mainland, and Vancouver, Canada. Other General Aviation airports on the island not offering commercial airline services are Port Allen Airport and Princeville Airport. The Pacific Missile Range Facility has a 6,006-foot runway that is closed to GA traffic but could potentially be used during a declared emergency landing.


Several state highways serve Kauaʻi County: * Hawaii Route 50, also known as Kaumualiʻi Highway, is a thirty-three mile road that stretches from Hawaii Route 56 at the junction of Rice Street in Līhue 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 from Route 50 in Līhue to the junction of Wapaa Road with Hawaii 51 near Nawiliwili Harbor on Kauai. * Hawaii Route 56, also known as Kuhio Highway, runs from Hawaii Route 50 at the junction of Rice Street in Līhue to the junction of Hawaii Route 560 in Princeville. * Hawaii Route 560 passes from the junction of Route 56 in Princeville and dead ends at Keʻe Beach in Haʻena State Park. Other major highways that link other parts of the Island to the main highways of Kauaʻi are: * Hawaii Route 55 covers from the junction of Route 50 in Kekaha, Hawaii, Kekaha to meet with Hawaii Route 550 south of Kokeʻe State Park in the Waimea Canyon. * Hawaii Route 550 spans from Hawaii Route 50, Route 50 in Waimea, Kauai County, Hawaii, Waimea to Koke'e State Park, Kōkeʻe State Park. * Hawaii Route 540 goes from Route 50 in Kalaheo to Route 50 in Eleʻele. The road is mainly an access to residential areas and Kauai Coffee. It also functions as a bypass between Kalaheo and ʻEleʻele. * Hawaii Route 530, also called Kōloa Road, stretches 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 Poʻipū. * Hawaii Route 520 runs from the "Tunnel of Trees" at Route 50 to Poʻipū on the south shore. * Hawaii Route 570 covers from Route 56 in Līhue to Līhue Airport. * Hawaii Route 580 spans from Route 56 in Wailua to where the road is no longer serviced just south of the Wailua Reservoir. * Hawaii Route 581 passes from Route 580 in the Wailua Homesteads to a roundabout just west of Kapaʻa Town. * Hawaii Route 583, also known as Maalo Road, stretches from Route 56 just north of Līhue 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 and connects many of Kauai'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 Kauai Bus, The Kauai Bus is the public transportation service of the County of Kauai.

Places of interest

Kauai is home to thousands of ''moa'' (wild chickens) who have few natural predators, as the mongoose was never introduced in Kauai as it has been on other Hawaiian islands. Kauai'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, as well a
during hurricanes. The Kauai Heritage Center of Hawaiian Culture and the Arts was founded in 1998. Their mission is to nurture a greater sense of appreciation and respect for the Hawaiian culture. They offer classes in Hawaiian language, hula, lei (garland), lei and cordage making, the lunar calendar and chanting, plus trips to cultural sites. Kauaʻi is home to many shave ice shops, a tradition in the islands. Popular tourist shave ice shops are Wailua Shave Ice in Kapaʻa, and Uncle’s Shave Ice in Lihuʻe and Koloa. * Alakai Wilderness Area * Allerton Garden * Bell stone * Brennecke's Beach * Camp Naue YMCA * Fern Grotto * Haʻena State Park * Hanalei Bay * Hoʻopiʻi Falls * Honopū Valley * Kōkeʻe State Park * Limahuli Garden and Preserve * Makaleha Mountains * Makauwahi Cave, Makauwahi Cave Reserve * McBryde Garden * Moir Gardens * Moloaa Bay * Na ʻĀina Kai Botanical Gardens * Nā Pali Coast State Park * ʻOpaekaʻa Falls * Paoʻa Point * Poipu Beach Park * Polihale State Park * Queen's Bath * Sleeping Giant (Kauai), Sleeping Giant (Nounou Mountain) * Spouting Horn * Wailua River * Waimea Canyon State Park

In films

The island of Kauai has been featured in more than seventy Hollywood movies and television shows, including the musical ''South Pacific (1958 film), South Pacific'' and The Walt Disney Company, Disney's 2002 List of animated feature films, animated feature film ''Lilo & Stitch'' along with Lilo & Stitch (franchise), 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 program#series, 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 (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 (franchise), Indiana Jones'' film ''Raiders of the Lost Ark''. Other movies filmed here include ''Six Days Seven Nights'', the 1976 version ''King Kong (1976 film), King Kong'' and John Ford's 1963 film ''Donovan's Reef''. Recent films include ''Tropic Thunder'' and a biopic of Bethany Hamilton titled ''Soul Surfer (film), Soul Surfer''. A scene in the opening credits of popular TV show ''M*A*S*H (TV series), M*A*S*H'' was filmed in Kauai (helicopter flying over mountain top). Some scenes from ''Just Go with It, George of the Jungle (film), George of the Jungle'' and ''Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides'' were also filmed in Kauai. ''A Perfect Getaway'' is set in Kauai. Parts of the 2002 film ''Dragonfly (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 Hawaiian native population, which seeks to preserve its cultural heritage, including the Overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii, pre-United States name of these two islands, Atooi or Tauai. Major acts of two Elvis Presley films, 1961's ''Blue Hawaii'' and 1966's ''Paradise, Hawaiian Style'', were filmed at various locations on Kauai. Both films boast scenes shot at the famous Coco Palms Resort, 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 Kauai, where the main character and his cousins own ancestral lands which they are considering selling. The film is based on the 2007 The Descendants (novel), novel by the Hawaiian writer Kaui Hart Hemmings.


See also

*Kauaʻi cave wolf spider *List of beaches in Kauai, Beaches of Kauaʻi *National Register of Historic Places listings in Hawaii#Kauai *Weli Point *:Headlands of Kauai *:People from Kauai County, Hawaii

Explanatory notes


Further reading

* * *

External links

Kauai Community and Visitor InformationKauai Chamber of CommerceHawaii Scenic Byways
Kauai, Islands of Hawaii Volcanoes of Hawaii, Kaua{{okinai Calderas of Hawaii Volcanic islands Extinct volcanoes Pliocene volcanoes Pleistocene volcanoes Neogene Oceania Cenozoic Hawaii