Kauai is the oldest of the Hawaiian islands. Volcanic eruptions formed the island around 5 million years ago.
The Island Name
Kauai is more tropical than the other islands. There’s a rainforest covering much of the island giving it more of a green landscape than any other place in Hawaii. This gives it the nickname of the “Garden Isle.”
But we also look to old Hawaiian legends again to find the original discoverer Hawai’iloa naming this island after a favorite son. The meaning of the name is “place around the neck” which is where the father carries his favorite child.
There’s a number of places on Kauai worth seeing. Here are some highlights.
Waimea Canyon is on the west side of the island and is considered to be the “Grand Canyon” of Hawaii. It’s about 3,000 feet deep and was formed around 4 million years ago when the volcano was still erupting. Part of the island had collapsed which started the formation of the canyon. Rainwater eroded parts of the canyon wall. And the reddish tint began to form over time.
There are over 10 miles of hiking trails at Waimea Canyon offering beautiful panoramic views. You can explore the rugged landscape and find hidden waterfalls. A drive down the main road gives you a couple of lookout points. And one of these, you can even see the nearby island of Niihau in clear view.
Na Pali Coast
The Na Pali Coast is a state park located on the northwest side of the island. There are over 6,000 acres of wilderness waiting to be explored. However, you cannot access the park by vehicle. It’s only accessible by foot or helicopter.
There’s a number of camping spots in the Na Pali Coast State Park. But keep in mind camping permits are required. And they’re often very popular. So plan your trip in advance and reserve your permit online through the State Park website.
The famous Kalalau Trail is also here, an 11-mile hike which is noted to be one of the most beautiful hikes in the world. But it’s also considered to be the most dangerous due to falling rock and rising streams when raining. Most people will need two days to complete the hike and will camp halfway through. But remember, camping permits are required. And you will need to show your permit in order to pass the halfway point which is located at Hanakoa Valley.
Hanalei is a little surf town located on the north shore of Kauai. Very few people live here having a population of only 450. But it’s very popular among tourists.
There’s a laidback lifestyle here. Food trucks are popular giving you a taste of the local food. Local artists are selling their hand-crafted products, which you won’t find in the normal souvenir shops. And you can oftentimes find local fruit and nuts being sold here as well.
Not far from the town is Hanalei Bay which has two miles of beach and is considered to be the largest bay on Kauai. It offers some serious surfing during the winter. And makes a great spot for swimming and stand-up paddle boarding during the summer.
Kauai Beach House
For the budget traveler seeking hostel accommodations on the island, we suggest checking out Kauai Beach House. The hostel is located on the east side in a little town called Kapaa. It’s right on the beach offering ocean views right from your dorm room window. The town is within walking distance giving you many choices for grocery shopping.
There are hiking opportunities nearby, food trucks and restaurants you can indulge in, live music and nightly entertainment, sea turtles and monk seals you can see, bike paths, and so much more.
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Image By: Hawaii Guide