Kauai, geologically the oldest of the major islands, is breathtakingly beautiful, its lush green interior earning it the nickname “the Garden Isle”. This is one of the smaller of Hawaii’s main islands, measuring only about 3½ mls E to W and 2½ mls N to S.
Jagged green mountains dominate the landscape and some parts are still untamed Na Pali Coast remains roadless, a mystic wilderness. Major resort destinations are Princeville on the N coast, the Wailea coconut coast in the E and Poipu Beach on the S shore. A law forbids any structure from being higher than the coconut palms, and so making the most of the superb natural scenery.
This island suits the middle to upmarket families, couples and incentive/corporate groups, the active and sports-orientated, independent. Mainly American tourists.
On the island there is about 90 properties, two-thirds of which are hotels; the remainder is made up of condominiums, a few cottages and B&Bs.
Kauai is an island in the central Pacific Ocean, almost on the Tropic of Cancer, 20 mins’ flight from Honolulu (Oahu) via inter-island airlines. The island’s major airport is at Lihue, with a smaller airport at Princeville. This is the northernmost of the major Hawaiian islands.
The island is ringed with 45 superlative beaches , large and small, most of them deserted, but all of them (as throughout the Hawaiian Islands) open to the public. Among the best: Hanalei Bay on the N shore; Poipu Beach in the S; Kalapaki Beach near Lihue (E coast); and Polihale Beach in the SW. Many beaches are for strolling along or sunbathing rather than swimming, as currents are strong and undertows dangerous; check with the locals first before taking a dip.
The island’s largest shopping mall, Kukui Grove Center, is in Lihue, the island’s principal city. Shopping “villages” are located at Poipu, Coconut Plantation Marketplace in Wailua, Princeville and Hanalei. Clothing, art and souvenir shops can be found in most hotels. Outdoor shopping includes a bazaar at Spouting Horn, just W of Poipu. Look for hand-painted clothes, exquisite Niihau shell jewellery, hand-crafted items and locals artists’ work. During the daytime there is water sports; gliding; bird-watching; fishing; golf. Hiking on the Na Pali Trail. Kauai Museum in Lihue. Botanical gardens. Several scenic state parks, including magnificent Waimea Canyon. Learning Hawaiian crafts; cultural and music festivals; sports events.
The nightlife here is very low-key. Hotels offer clubs, bars and entertainment programmes; there is also local dancing and music.
For food there is a limited choice. The range includes restaurants serving regional dishes and international fare to snack bars and lunch wagons near beaches. Hotel restaurants are good; food choice tends to be mostly steak/seafood/American. Local speciality is shaved ice flavoured with tropical syrups.