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Overview

A latter day Eden, Kauai is a visual gem with spiky peaks, noisy waterfalls, true blue bays and too many shades of green to count. Eldest of the main inhabited islands, eroded by time and nature, this great, green place is aesthetic kin to Tahiti, so rugged and impenetrable it's best seen from the air. Only by helicopter can you awe over Waimea Canyon, Na Pali coast, and 5,148-foot Mt. Wai'ale'ale, wettest spot on Earth. Misty Hanalei is Bali Hai redux, but sun seekers prefer Poipu, hikers trek to Koke'e State Park, gateway to Alakai Swamp; duffers tee off at Princeville in between downpours, even dusty Kapa'a has its fans. Beach lovers ...

A latter day Eden, Kauai is a visual gem with spiky peaks, noisy waterfalls, true blue bays and too many shades of green to count. Eldest of the main inhabited islands, eroded by time and nature, this great, green place is aesthetic kin to Tahiti, so rugged and impenetrable it's best seen from the air. Only by helicopter can you awe over Waimea Canyon, Na Pali coast, and 5,148-foot Mt. Wai'ale'ale, wettest spot on Earth. Misty Hanalei is Bali Hai redux, but sun seekers prefer Poipu, hikers trek to Koke'e State Park, gateway to Alakai Swamp; duffers tee off at Princeville in between downpours, even dusty Kapa'a has its fans. Beach lovers go to Polihale, a 17-mile long sand dune that's Hawaii biggest beach. Green thumbs visit 186-acres of rare, endangered tropical plants at National Tropical Botanical Garden Old plantation shacks in Koloa are recycled into rustic shops and diners with local fare like laulau and saimin. Everybody eats at Hamura's. Stay in a 1920s-style Hyatt Regency at Poipu, bunk in Waimea's plantation cabins, or tuck in a Kalalau sea cave on Na Pali coast. That splash of waterfalls you hear' Kauai's calling.

Rick Carroll
About the Expert

Rick Carroll has written dozens of articles on Hawaii and the Pacific. His books include Great Outdoor Adventures of Hawaii, Madame Pele: True Encounters with Hawaii's Fire Goddess, and Travelers' Tales Hawaii.

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Rick Carroll for Triporati

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Now Happening in Kauai

Facts at a Glance

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    Anytime, but May and October are least crowded.