Kauai the garden island

Hawaii’s fourth largest island, Kauai, is also one of the Island State’s most scenic.

Kauai is just 105 miles (170 kilometres) North West of the main island of Oahu, just across the Kauai Channel.  Like other Hawaiian Islands, Kauai is volcanic; it is also one of the wettest places on Earth, with an annual average rainfall of 460 inches (1.3 metres).

Kauai is called the Garden Isle for good reason. Because of the fertile volcanic soils, plentiful rain and warm temperatures, plants flourish on Kauai. You can see some great examples of the natural vegetation at the National Botanical Tropic Garden, on the South Shore of the island. The high annual rainfall has eroded deep valleys in the central mountains, carving out canyons with many scenic waterfalls. One of these is the spectacular Waimea Canyon, which is so special it has been given the status of a state park.

Called the Grand Canyon of the Pacific, Waimea is 10 miles (16 kms) in length and up to 3,000 feet (900 metres) deep. The canyon is a bit of a geological oddity in that it was formed not only by natural erosion, but also by the catastrophic collapse of a volcano.   It’s a popular hiking spot, and also attracts photography enthusiasts because of the tremendous landscapes that are on show.

There are five main regions on Kauai, being the North Shore, the East Side, Lihue and Kalapaki, the South Shore and the West Side, all of which have major differences of climate and landform.

One point of interest is Captain Cook Memorial which is located on the roadside in the rural town of Waimea in Hofgaard Park (also known as Tamago — egg-shaped — Park). This commemorates the site where British Captain James Cook first landed in Hawaii in 1778. Cook, with his ships the Resolution and Discovery, was the first westerner to discover the islands.

For a rather small island, Kauai’s opportunities for you to see a variety of geography, landscapes, and other points of interest, are virtually endless. Drive just a short distance and you will be enchanted by the beauty and diversity around every turn, from town to town, and in between.  Given the island’s mountainous landscape and high rainfall, the drive will take you to see many waterfalls and outstanding lookouts.

Kauai has more than 50 miles of gorgeous white sand beaches to choose from – more beaches per mile than any other island in Hawaii! Altogether, 43 white sand beaches beckon to wile away the day. Whether enjoying the fun at Poipu or tossing a towel down in a secluded cove at Anini, Kauai’s range of beaches matches the island’s diversity. For the more adventurous, rent a snorkel and see the wonders and undersea beauty of Kauai’s marine world.

Although Kauai is visually spectacular, most visitors to Hawaii miss out on visiting this gem.  Hollywood, however, hasn’t been quite so reticent, and many major films, including Jurassic Park, Indiana Jones and the newest Pirates of the Caribbean have been filmed here.  If you do visit Kauai and it all looks very familiar, it’s because you have seen many times before on both cinema and TV screens.

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