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Kaua i or Kauai ( in English and or in Hawaiian) is the oldest of the main Hawaiian Islands. With an area of , it is the fourth largest of the main islands in the Hawaiian archipelago and the 21st largest island in the United States. Known also as the "Garden Isle", Kaua i lies 105 miles (170 kilometers) across the Kaua i Channel, northwest of O ahumarker.

The United States Census Bureau defines Kaua i as Census Tracts 401 through 409 of Kaua i County, Hawai imarker, which is all of the county except for the islands of Kaʻulamarker, Lehuamarker, and Ni ihaumarker. The 2000 census population of Kaua i (the island) was 58,303.

Etymology and language

There is no known meaning behind the name of Kaua i. Native Hawaiian tradition indicates the name's origin in the legend of Hawai iloa — the Polynesian navigator attributed with discovery of the Hawaiian Islands. The story relates how he named the island of Kaua i after a favorite son; therefore a possible translation of Kaua i is "place around the neck", meaning how a father would carry a favorite child. Another possible translation is "food season."

Kaua i was known for its distinct dialect of the Hawaiian language before it went extinct there. Whereas the standard language today is based on the dialect of Hawai i islandmarker, the Kaua i dialect was known for pronouncing /k/ as /t/. In effect, Kaua i dialect retained the old pan-Polynesian /t/, while 'standard' Hawai i dialect has innovated and changed it to the glottal stop. Therefore, the native name for Kaua i was Taua i, and the major settlement of Kapa amarker would have been called Tapa a.


Kauai's origins are volcanic. The highest peak on this mountainous island is Kawaikini at . The second highest peak is Mount Wai ale alemarker near the center of the island, above sea level. One of the wettest spots on earth, with an annual average rainfall of 460 inches (11,700 mm), is located on the east side of Mount Wai ale ale. 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 most scenic canyons in the world, and which is part of Waimea Canyon State Park. At deep, Waimea Canyon is often referred to as "The Grand Canyon of the Pacific".


During the reign of King Kamehameha, the islands of Kaua i and Ni ihau were the last Hawaiian Islands to join his Kingdom of Hawai i. Their ruler, Kaumuali i, resisted Kamehameha for years. King Kamehameha twice prepared a huge armada of ships and canoes to take the islands by force and twice failed; once due to a storm, and once due to an epidemic. In the face of the threat of a further invasion, however, Kaumuali i decided to join the kingdom without bloodshed, and became Kamehameha's vassal in 1810, ceding the island to the Kingdom of Hawai i upon his death in 1824. In 1815-17, Kaumuali i led secret negotiations with representatives of the Russian-American Company in an attempt to gain Russia's military help against Kamehameha; however, the negotiations folded and the Russians were forced to abandon all of their presence in Kaua i, including Fort Elizabethmarker, after it was revealed that they did not have the support of Tsar Alexander I.


Tourism is Kauai's largest industry. In 2007, 1,271,000 visitors came to Kauai, and the two largest groups were from the United States (84% of all visitors) and Japan (3%). As of 2003, there were a total of approximately 27,000 jobs on Kauai, of which the largest sector was accommodations–food services (26%, 6,800 jobs) followed by government (15%) and retail (14.5%), with agriculture accounting for just 2.9% (780 jobs) and educational services providing just 0.7% (183 jobs). In terms of income, the various sectors that are comprised by the visitors industry accounted for one third of Kauai's income. On the other hand, employment is dominated by small businesses, with 87% of all nonfarm businesses having fewer than 20 employees.

As of 2003, Kauai's unemployment rate was 3.9%, compared to 3.0% for the entire state and 5.7% for the United States as a whole; and, Kauai's poverty rate was 10.5%, compared to the State's 10.7%. As of mid-2004, the median price of a single family home was $528,000, a 40% increase over 2003. As of 2003, Kauai's percentage of home ownership, 48%, was significantly lower than the State's 64%, and vacation homes were a far larger part of the housing stock than the State-wide percentage (Kauai 15%, State 5%)..

In the past, sugar plantations were Kauai's most important industry, but most of that land is now used for ranching. Kauai's sole remaining sugar operation, the 118-year-old Gay & Robinson Plantation has announced that it plans to transform itself into a manufacturer of ethanol from sugar cane.

Fruits and crops

Land in Kauaʻi is very fertile and is home to many varieties of fruits and crops. Guava, coffee, sugarcane and pineapple are all grown on Kauai.

Island facts

Ocean view from Kaua'i
The city of Līhu emarker, on the island's southeast coast, is the seat of Kaua i Countymarker and the second largest city on the island. Kapa a, on the "Coconut Coast" (site of an old coconut plantation) about north of Līhu e, has a population of nearly 10,000, or about 50% greater than Līhu e. Waimeamarker, once the capital of Kaua i on the island's southwest side, was the first place in Hawai i visited by British explorer Captain James Cook in 1778.

One of Kauai's chickens
1992's Hurricane Iniki may have caused an indirect change in Kaua i's ecosystem. The origin of Kauai's chickens come from the original Polynesian settlers, who brought them as a food source. Kauai is now home to thousands of wild chickens, who have few natural predators. Wild roosters have been known to disturb evening quiet time at very early hours with their crowing, a normal function of all roosters stemming from their need to define territory.

The island of Kaua i has been featured in more than 70 Hollywood movies and television shows, including the musical South Pacific and Disney's 2002 animated feature film and television series Lilo & Stitch. Scenes from South Pacific were filmed in the vicinity of Hanalei. Waimea Canyon was used in the filming of the 1993 film Jurassic Park. Parts of the island were also used for the opening scenes of Raiders of the Lost Ark. Other movies filmed here include Six Days Seven Nights, the remake of King Kong and John Ford's 1963 film Donovan's Reef.

Kaua i is home to the U.S. Navy's "Barking Sands" Pacific Missile Range Facilitymarker, on the sunny and dry western shore.

Important towns and cities

Hanalei Town with a view of Mt.
Na Molokama, and Māmalahoa.
Western coast of Kauai close to Barking Sands
Cities and towns on Kaua i range in population from the roughly 9,500 people in Kapa a to tiny hamlets. The list below lists the larger or more notable of those from the northernmost end of Hawaii Route 560 to the western terminus of Hawaii Route 50.



Located on the eastern end of the island, Lihue Airportmarker is the aviation gateway to Kauaʻi. Lihuʻe Airport has direct routes to Seattlemarker, Phoenixmarker, LAXmarker, Honolulumarker, and Kahuluimarker.


Several state highways serve Kauaʻi County:
  • Hawaii Route 50, also known as Kaumualiʻi Highway, is a thirty-three mile road that stretches from Hawaii Route 56 at the junction of Rice Street in Lihuʻe to a point approximately 1/5 mile north of the northernmost entrance of the Pacific Missile Range Facilitymarker on the far western shore.
  • Hawaii Route 58 is a two mile road that stretches from Route 50 in Lihuʻe to the junction of Wapaa Road with Hawaii 51 near Nawiliwili Harbor on Kauai.
  • Hawaii Route 56, also known as Kuhio Highway, is a twenty-eight mile route stretching from Hawaii Route 50 at the junction of Rice Street in Lihuʻe to the junction of Hawaii Route 560 in Princeville.
  • Hawaii Route 560 is a ten-mile road that stretches from the junction of Route 56 in Princeville to a dead end road at Keʻe Beachmarker in Haena State Park.

Other major highways that link other parts of the Island to the main highways of Kauaʻi are:
  • Hawaii Route 55 is a 7.6 mile road that stretches from the junction of Route 50 in Kekahamarker to meet with Hawaii Route 550 south of Kokeʻe State Park in the Waimea Canyon.
  • Hawaii Route 550 is a fourteen mile (21 km) road stretching from Route 50 in Waimeamarker to Kōkeʻe State Park.
  • Hawaii Route 540 is a four mile (6 km) road that stretches from Route 50 in Kalaheo to Route 50 in Eleʻele. The road is mainly an access to residential areas and Kauaʻi Coffee.
  • Hawaii Route 530, also called Kōloa Road, is a 3.4 mile road that stretches from Route 50 between Kalaheo and Lawai to Route 520 in Koloa. The road is mainly an alternative to Route 520 for travel from the west side to Poʻipū.
  • Hawaii Route 520 is a five mile road that stretches from the "Tunnel of Trees" at Route 50 to Poʻipū on the south shore.
  • Hawaii Route 570 is a one mile (1.6 km) road that stretches from Route 56 in Lihuʻe to Lihuʻe Airport.
  • Hawaii Route 580 is a five mile (8 km) road that stretches from Route 56 in Wailua to where the road is no longer serviced just south of the Wailua Reservoir.
  • Hawaii Route 581 is a five mile (8 km) road that stretches from Route 580 in the Wailua Homesteads to a roundabout just west of Kapaʻa Town.
  • Hawaii Route 583, also known as Maalo Road, is a 3.9 mile road that stretches from Route 56 just north of Lihuʻe to dead-end at Wailua Falls Overlook in the interior.

Kaua'i Bus

The Kauaʻi Bus is the public transportation service of the County of Kauaʻimarker.

Places of interest

The Spouting Horn: located on the southern coast of Kaua'i

See also


  1. Census Tracts 401 through 409, Kaua i County United States Census Bureau


  • Edward Joesting. Kaua i, the Separate Kingdom. University of Hawai i Press and Kaua i Museum Association. Honolulu. 1984. ISBN 0-8248-1162-3

External links

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