Kaua’i has always charmed outsiders by being a place whose inhabitants see the world just a little differently. Formed by the volcanic hotspot that now sits beneath the Big Island of Hawaii, Kauai was the only major Hawaiian island not to be conquered by King Kamehameha when he sought unification. After two foiled attempts to send his ships against Kaua’i, Kamehameha made a peaceful agreement which brought the island into his domain. Today, this uniqueness survives as Kaua’i maintains a quaint small-town feel while still providing luxury, relaxation, and tons of fun for her visitors!
From Barking Sands Beach, which takes its name from a Hawaiian myth in which a man’s dogs saved him from the perils of the ocean, to the breathtaking Na Pali coastline, Kaua’i has something to offer to everyone. And, no matter where your vacation takes you, you are sure to be greeted by that Aloha spirit, although don’t be surprised if you can’t understand everything the locals are saying! We have our own unique phrases on the island. If you hear “Howz it” or “how you stay”, don’t worry, your hearing isn’t going, it’s just our way of asking you how you are doing! And, if someone asks if you want any “grinds”, you should always say yes, because, after all, who could say no to our delicious Hawaiian food?
Home to the wettest place on earth and called the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific” by Mark Twain, the Waimea Canyon stretches for 10 miles and is full of hiking paths. The canyon and surrounding valleys are also said to be home to the Menehune, or “little people”. These people were said to be skilled builders and craftsmen, always completing their project within one night. Some say the menehune still wander the island at night!
Just north of the canyon is the famous Na Pali coastline. The name literally means “the cliffs,” and these cliffs are a sight you will never forget! Home of the original inhabitants who used the steep cliffs to repel invaders from the lush valleys, the coast is full of legends and folklore. The sharp black cliffs topped with vegetation give way to pristine beaches, many of which you might recognize from movies including the recent Pirates of the Caribbean 4. Throughout the rest of the island you can find filming locations for countless movies such as Jurassic Park, Elvis Presley’s Blue Hawaii, and Indiana Jones. Many local companies offer zipline and movie tours which take you through the interior to some of the more remote locations on the island.
If lying on the beach relaxing is more up your alley, Kaua’i boasts some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Every beach is public access, and with so many to choose from you can always find the perfect place in paradise to sleep, read, or play in the surf. And, while on the beach, don’t forget to keep an eye out for passing whales or our Hawaiian monk seals who like to sun themselves. These guys are protected by law, so don’t get too close!
Regardless of what you are looking for in your vacation, a great resource is the Ultimate Kauai Guide Book. Not only does it contain informative write-ups on just about anything you can do on the island, the book divulges all the local secrets, allowing you to visit those hidden gems you might otherwise miss!
It is said that the name Kaua’i comes from Hawai`iloa, the original discoverer of the island, who named Kaua’i after his favorite son. The name can be translated as “a place around the neck”, referring to the way a father would carry a child he held dear. We certainly hope that Kaua’i will always have a place around your neck when you leave here!