Native Hawaiian tradition indicates the name’s origin in the legend of Hawaiʻiloa — the Polynesian navigator attributed with discovery of the Hawaiian Islands. The story relates how he named the island of Kauaʻi after a favorite son; therefore a possible translation of Kauaʻi is “place around the neck”, meaning how a father would carry a favorite child. Another possible translation is “food season.”
Kauaʻi 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 Hawaiʻi island, which has the sound [k] at the beginning of words, the Kauaʻi dialect was known for pronouncing this as [t]. In effect, Kauaʻi dialect retained the old pan-Polynesian /t/, while ‘standard’ Hawaiʻi dialect has innovated and changed it to the [k]. Therefore, the native name for Kauaʻi was Tauaʻi, and the major settlement of Kapaʻa would have been called Tapaʻa.
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 5,243 feet (1,598 m). The second highest peak is Mount Waiʻaleʻale near the center of the island, 5,148 feet (1,569 m) above sea level. One of the wettest spots on earth, with an annual average rainfall of 460 inches (1,200 cm), 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 3,000 feet (914 m) deep, Waimea Canyon is often referred to as “The Grand Canyon of the Pacific”. 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.
In 1778, Captain James Cook came to Waimea Bay and discovered the “Sandwich Isles,” after the Earl of Sandwich, and in this way introduced Hawaii to Europe.
During the reign of King Kamehameha, the islands of Kauaʻi and Niʻihau were the last Hawaiian Islands to join his Kingdom of Hawaiʻi. Their ruler, Kaumualiʻi, 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, Kaumualiʻi decided to join the kingdom without bloodshed, and became Kamehameha’s vassal in 1810, ceding the island to the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi upon his death in 1824.
In 1815-17, Kaumualiʻi led secret negotiations with representatives of the Russian-American Company in an attempt to gain Russia’s military support against Kamehameha; however, the negotiations folded and the Russians were forced to abandon all of their presence in Kauaʻi, including Fort Elizabeth, after it was revealed that they did not have the support of Tsar Alexander I.
In 1835 Old Koloa Town opened a sugar mill. Missionaries also came in the 19th century.
The commercial area in Port Allen
Tourism is Kauaʻi’s largest industry. In 2007, 1,271,000 visitors came to Kauaʻi. 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 Kauaʻi, of which the largest sector was accommodation/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 constitute 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, Kauaʻi’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, Kauaʻi’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, Kauaʻi’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 (Kauaʻi 15%, State 5%).
In the past, sugar plantations were Kauaʻi’s most important industry. In 1835 the first sugar plantation was founded on Kauai and for the next century the industry would dominate the economy of Hawaii. The minimum wage law (Federal Labor Standards Act) and protected the rights of workers to unionize led to the closure of most of the sugar plantation. Now most of that land is now used for ranching. Kauaʻi’s sole remaining sugar operation, the 118-year-old Gay & Robinson Plantation plans to transform itself into a manufacturer of sugar-cane ethanol.
The city of Līhuʻe, on the island’s southeast coast, is the seat of Kauaʻi County and the second largest city on the island. Kapaʻa, on the “Coconut Coast” (site of an old coconut plantation) about 6 miles (9.7 km) north of Līhuʻe, has a population of nearly 10,000, or about 50% greater than Līhuʻe. Waimea, once the capital of Kauaʻi on the island’s southwest side, was the first place in Hawaii visited by British explorer Captain James Cook in 1778. Kauaʻi is home to thousands of wild chickens, who have few natural predators. Kauaʻi’s chickens originated from the original Polynesian settlers, who brought them as a food source. 1992′s Hurricane Iniki may have caused an indirect change in Kauaʻi’s ecosystem, increasing the chicken population.
The Kauai Heritage Center of Hawaiian Culture and the Arts was founded in 1998. Their mission is to nurture a greater sense of appreciation and respect for the Hawaiian culture. They offer classes in Hawaiian language, hula, lei and cordage making, the lunar calendar and chanting. Plus trips to cultural sites.
A view of the Hanalei Valley in Northern Kauaʻi. The Hanalei River runs through the valley and 60% of Hawaii’s taro is grown in its fields.
A view of the Nā Pali coastline from the ocean. It is part of the Nā Pali Coast State Park which encompasses 6,175 acres (20 km2) of land and is located on the northwest side of Kauaʻi.
A view of the Kalalau Valley on Kauaʻi’s Na Pali Coast from the Kalalau Lookout.
Hanalei Town with a view of Mt. Na Molokama, and Māmalahoa.
Northeastern coast of Kauaʻi, near Kīlauea
Cities and towns on Kauaʻi range in population from the roughly 9,500 people in Kapaʻa 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.
Hawaii Route 540 goes four miles (6 km) 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, stretches 3.4 miles (5.5 km) 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 runs five miles (8 km) from the “Tunnel of Trees” at Route 50 to Poʻipū on the south shore.
Hawaii Route 570 covers one mile (1.6 km) from Route 56 in Lihuʻe to Lihuʻe Airport.
Hawaii Route 580 spans five miles (8 km) from Route 56 in Wailua to where the road is no longer serviced just south of the Wailua Reservoir.
Hawaii Route 581 passes five miles (8 km) from Route 580 in the Wailua Homesteads to a roundabout just west of Kapaʻa Town.
Hawaii Route 583, also known as Maalo Road, stretches 3.9 miles (6.3 km) from Route 56 just north of Lihuʻe to dead-end at Wailua Falls Overlook in the interior.
Parts of the film Dragonfly were filmed there (although the people and the land were presented as South American) and the producers hired extras (at least three with speaking parts) from the ancient Hawaiʻian native population, which seeks to preserve its cultural heritage, including the pre-USA name of these two islands, Atooi or Tauaʻi.
Major parts of the 1966 Elvis Presley film Paradise, Hawaiian Style were filmed at various locations on Kauai. One of the most famous was the Coco Palms resort. During Hurricane Iniki, the Coco Palms was decimated. It was never rebuilt, but the film “Paradise, Hawaiian Style” showcases the resort at its peak.
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Cities in Hawaii
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Honolulu, Pearl City, Hilo, Kailua, Waipahu, Kāne‘ohe, Mililani Town, Kahului, ‘Ewa Gentry, Kīhei
Honolulu, HI Hilo, HI Kailua, HI Kaneohe, HI Waipahu, HI
Pearl City, HI Waimalu, HI Mililani Town, HI Kahului, HI Kihei, HI
Wahiawa, HI Makakilo City, HI Ewa Beach, HI Wailuku, HI Nanakuli, HI