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Kauai

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Travel Guide North America USA Western United States Hawaii Kauai

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Introduction

Kauai (or, more properly, Kaua'i) is the northwesternmost and oldest of Hawaii's major islands. Called the Garden Island, it is covered with lush greenery and tropical plants, watered regularly by abundant rainfall. As the oldest of the islands, it has been changed the most by the forces of erosion, and this has resulted in natural wonders such as Waimea Canyon and the Na Pali Coast. It is also home to more sandy beaches than any other major island in the Hawaiian chain.

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Geography

Kauaʻi's origins are volcanic, the island having been formed by the passage of the Pacific plate over the Hawaii hotspot. At approximately six million years old, it is the oldest of the main islands. The highest peak on this mountainous island is Kawaikini at 1,598 metres. The second highest peak is Mount Waiʻaleʻale near the center of the island, 1,569 metres above sea level. One of the wettest spots on earth, with an annual average rainfall of 12,000 mm, is located on the east side of Mount Waiʻaleʻale. 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 town is located at the mouth of the Waimea River, whose flow formed Waimea Canyon, one of the world's most scenic canyons, and which is part of Waimea Canyon State Park. At 914 metres 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.

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Towns

  • Kapa'a
  • Lihu'e
  • Po'ipu
  • Princeville
  • Waimea

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Sights and Activities

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Weather

Kauai is a popular destination among people looking for great weather. There are however differences throughout the year and even between parts of the island. The southwestern parts are generally much drier compared to the northeastern parts of the island. Most of the rain falls between November and March. It is quite unusual for tropical islands to have the wettest time of year coincide with the slightly cooler months. Oddly enough, the possibility of a tropical storm or even a hurricane is higher from May to November, opposite to the wetter months. Still, such storms are less frequent compared to for example the Caribbean or west Pacific. Temperatures are highest between July and October, around 28 °C during the day and around 24 °C at night. The other months are still nice and warm, between 24 °C and 27 °C during the day and around 20 °C at night.

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Getting There

By Plane

Lihue Airport (LIH) is located on the southeast coast of the island. From here, Alaska Airlines flies to Seattle, American Airlines and Delta Airlines to Los Angeles, Hawaiian Airlines, Island Air and go!Mokulele to Honolulu (Island Air also to Kahului on Maui), United Airlines to Los Angeles, Denver and San Francisco, US Airways to Phoenix and there are seasonal flights with Westjet to Vancouver.

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Getting Around

By Car

A rental car is the best way to get around and enjoys most sites. Many international rental companies have a wide selection of rental cars and these include Hertz, Avis, Dollar, Thrifty, Enterprise, Budget and Alamo/National. Most companies will require you are at least 25 years of age, although younger people might be able to rent cars at slightly higher rates and with some insurance differences as well. A national driver's license is usually enough, but an additional international one is recommended. Also note that it usually costs more to include lots of other extra things. For example extra drivers, GPS, the first full tank, SLI (Supplemental Liability Insurance), PAI (Personal Accident Insurance, usually covered already at home), road assistance/service plan, and drop-off costs for one-way rentals.
If you want to book a car, it is recommended that you book your car before arriving in the USA. This is almost always (much) cheaper compared to just showing up. Also, try and book with a so-called 'broker', which usually works together with a few or many car rental companies and can offer the best deal. Some examples include Holidayautos, Holidaycars and Sunny Cars. Some of the cheapest deals to book from Europe, includes Drive-USA, which also has a German version.

For more information and tips about renting cars and campers, additional costs, insurance, traffic rules, scenic routes and getting maps and fuel it is advised to check the USA Getting Around section.

By Bus

Kaua'i Bus offers services around the island.

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Eat

  • Hanapepe Cafe - Vegetarian & Fish in Hanapepe
  • Caffe Coco - Bistro style in Wailua
  • Monico's Taqueria - Mexican/fish in Wailua
  • Banana Joe's - Smoothies/Frosties in Kilauea
  • Tropical Taco - Fish/Mexican in Hanalei
  • Kilauea Fish Market - Fish wraps plus in Kilauea and Wailua (starting January 2011)
  • Kilauea Bakery & Pau Hana Pizza in Kilauea

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Sleep

PropertyAddressTypePopularity
Honu'ea International Hostel Kauai4534 Lehua StHostel-
Kauai Beach House Hostel4-1552 Kuhio Hwy KapaaHostel-

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This is version 29. Last edited at 8:30 on Aug 9, 13 by Utrecht. 2 articles link to this page.

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