Kauai, also known as the Garden Isle, is certainly one of the world's top five islands in terms of breathtaking beauty. It is so spectacular and diverse that tourists often need additional trips to see even half of the glorious sights on the island. The landscape includes rain forests, green valleys, gigantic cliffs, rugged peaks, palm trees, and spectacular beaches. In fact, many of Hawaii's top beach spots for tourists are found on Kauai. The air is soft and tropical, and it is warm every day of the year. Rainfall is high, creating a lush environment that is a gift to the senses. Scents of plumeria and ginger fill the air, complementing the gorgeous visual display that is present all around you.
In reality, Kauai is a lone volcano that extends three miles above the ocean floor. But don't panic; there is no worry of an active volcano spewing lava at you while you enjoy your Ahi sandwich at the local eatery. Speaking of which, the restaurants on Kauai are excellent. Though Kauai is only ninety miles from Oahu, it is over fifty years behind technologically. This independent region is known by many as the separate kingdom because it was the lone island that refused King Kamehameha's attempts to try and unite all of Hawaii. Only a royal kidnapping forced Kauai to join the rest of the islands. But the spirit of independence remains strong in Kauai, and its citizens are still refusing to give the island over to modern tourism methodology. The needs and lives of the residents are first priority; still, the locals are overwhelmingly friendly, and you could not find a better time anywhere. In essence, Kauai is the best of Hawaii, with its small villages and picturesque landscape, but without the gaudy hotels and resorts.
The beauty of Kauai is world-famous, having been featured in over forty Hollywood movies including Jurassic Park and South Pacific, with many more sure to come. Perhaps the most fascinating aspect of Kauai is that for all its visual splendor, over two-thirds of the island is virtually impenetrable. The hidden caverns, seas, cliffs, and forests are simply unbelievable. However, Kauai remains a water sport paradise, with plenty of beach for exploring and enjoying. This is the premier spot for relaxation and getting away.
Docking & Local Transportation
Cruise ships dock at the Nawilwili Harbour in Kauai. From there you can arrange for taxis, bus services, or rental agencies to provide your transportation while on this lush and beautiful island.
Most tourists opt to rent a car for the day while on Kauai. If you want to be able to see all the sights, this is by far the most convenient transportation choice. Contact Alamo (800/327-9633) or Thrifty (800/367-2277) for more information. If you would like to rent a motorcycle while on the island, contact Ray's Motorcycle Rentals, located at 4558 Kukui St. (808/822-HOGG). Finally, Kauai has a small bus operation that serves most areas of the island. Contact Kauai Bus (808/241-6410) for specifics.
There are a great number of natural and man-made sights on the island that are all extraordinary. The Grove Farm Homestead Museum is located at 4050 Nawiliwili Rd. (808/245-3202), where you are transported back to the 1860s, when sugar reigned supreme. Furniture, Hawaiiana, and plantation artifacts are plentiful at Grove Farm Homestead, and a couple hours here truly give you a sense of the heritage of Kauai.
The Kauai Museum is located at 4428 Rice St. (808/245-6931) and is the premier location to learn all about the fascinating history of Kauai. Set in a Greco-Roman building that used to be the main library in Kauai, this museum contains a fabulous collection of educational exhibits, showcases, and artifacts, some of which date back to the beginning of time. Photographs show old Kauai, and a video shot from a helicopter captures the intrinsic beauty of the island.
Kiki a Ola, also known as the Menehune Ditch, is located on Menehune Road, and is a must see for all visitors to the island. The Menehunes were a legendary elflike people hired by the ancient Hawaiian kings, and allegedly, they could create fantastic works out of giant stones in a single night. One such work is the Menehune Ditch, where hand-cut and strategically-placed stones form a centuries-old aqueduct that directs the surrounding water out into nearby irrigation ponds. The majority of this incredible site now lies beneath the roadbed, but a portion is still visible.
Polihale State Park, the biggest beach on Hawaii, is on the western end of Kauai. It is seventeen miles long and over three hundred yards wide. Polihale is the ideal spot for an afternoon getaway, as it is incredibly relaxing and comforting. Be sure to pack sandals, because the sand is hotter than the nightlife in Honolulu. Among the many unique beaches inside the park is Barking Sands Beach. This spot has been given this name because the footfalls sound as if a group of barking dogs is nearby. Queen's Pond can be found here as well, and it is a small, shallow inlet that has a sand-bottom and is very safe for swimming and snorkeling. Queen's Pond is protected from strong waves and currents; a perfect spot for children, snorkelers, and inexperienced water goers. Anini Beach County Park is the safest beach on Kauai for windsurfing and swimming. Its striking beauty also makes it a must see for all visitors to Kauai. The gold sand and sparkling cliffs are breathtaking, and snorkelers love the five-foot coral bottom. If you happen to be interested in cliff diving, or at least watching people cliff dive, there is a sixty-foot cliff here that's a tremendously popular spot. However, we won't think any less of you if you don't take a jump.
Dining and Nightlife
Gaylord's at 3-2087 Kaumualii Hwy. (808/245-9593) features great Continental and Pacific food. The prime rib, lamb, and steak are all marvelous, and the pasta and salads are very good as well. JJ's Broiler is located at 3416 Rice St. (808/246-4422) and is renowned for its Slavonic Steak. The herb-crusted ahi is also outstanding, and be sure to try coconut shrimp as an appetizer. Gilligan's Disco, found at 4331 Kauai Beach Dr., is the premier dance spot in Kauai. Thursday nights are dedicated to country line dancing, Friday evenings feature karaoke, and a DJ spins every Saturday from 9pm to 1am.
For some great drinks in a laid-back atmosphere, be sure to visit Stevenson's Library (808/742-1234), located at the Hyatt Regency Kauai.
The gift shop inside the Kauai Museum at 4428 Rice St. (808/245-6931) is the best spot to find great woodwork, art, crafts, and other goods all made on Kauai. Group weaves are held regularly in the gallery, nearly every Monday and Wednesday. Kauai Products Store (808/246-6753) is the next best location for made-in-Kauai products, including paintings, clothing, and soaps.
If you want a breathtaking, bird's eye view of Kauai and the surrounding coastline, be sure to take a helicopter tour of the island. Will Squyres Helicopter (808/245-7541) has an impeccable safety record and extremely knowledgeable pilots who will treat you to an unforgettable experience on the Garden Island.