Lihue, Kauai

Destination Location

Overview

Kauai is the northernmost of the Hawaiian islands, sitting 4,000 km from the continental U.S. Settled roughly 1,500 years ago by seafaring Polynesians, these pioneers found a wondrous island they called Kauai (pronounced kah-why).

At a little more than 1,400 sq. km in size, it is the fourth largest of the Hawaiian Islands. It is known as the "Garden Isle," an abundance of green atop a rugged tangle of mountains and deep valleys. Its powdery-soft beaches are swept by warm trade winds. Kauai is the quintessential tropical paradise.

Though it has a population of roughly 65,000, the island still retains its sense of the wild. Visitors come here, not just to stake out a patch of beach, but also to explore Kauai's many charms. It is also a popular destination for people looking to tie the knot and to honeymoon.

Kauai tugs at the adventurer within. It inspires you to get out and explore its incredible hiking trails and to test its waters with a surfboard, boogie board or stand-up paddle board. Or perhaps even travel across the water on an outrigger canoe to experience the way the ancient Polynesians travelled, guided by the stars and an intimate knowledge of the sea.

This beautiful island still has a way of enticing visitors, sometimes turning them into permanent residents. It may have a similar effect on you. Inevitably, first-timers vow to return to Kauai for those emerald-green mountains, cascading waterfalls, satiny beaches and coral reef-rimmed lagoons.

Lihue, Kauai is a fantastic destination for:

  • beaches
  • outdoor adventure
  • culture and history

Airport served by: Lihue, Kauai, Hawaii (LIH)

Destination basics

Kauai's soothing climate hums along with the predictability of the trade winds. Temperatures are near perfect year-round, with daily averages ranging from the low- to high-20s C, edging slightly warmer in the summer.

The prevailing northeast trade winds bring refreshing breezes and, at times, lots of rainfall that gives the island its lush landscape.

The rugged north and east sides lie on the windward side of Kauai and typically receive more precipitation than the gently sloped and drier south and west sides.

Winter sees big surf on the north and east shores and calmer waters on the south. In summertime, the swell picks up on the south and the north becomes more swim- and snorkel-friendly. When it comes to ocean sports, it doesn't matter what season you're visiting, if locals aren't in the water, there's probably a good reason for it. As the beachside warning signs say, "If in doubt, don't go out."

Average monthly temperature and average monthly rainfall diagrams for Lihue, Kauai

From the air, Kauai looks like a tropical paradise, with lush volcanic mountain ranges, palm-lined beaches and rolling surf. On land, you sense a relaxed and mellow vibe. Like the other islands, Kauai has undergone a renaissance of pride in native Hawaiian culture encompassing all parts of island life, from music to cuisine.

Many hotels regularly host story evenings with Hawaiian elders eager to share traditional knowledge about plants, healing, mythology and other aspects of a culture dating back thousands of years to Tahiti, Samoa and other South Pacific Islands. Locals still pay tribute at ancient heiaus, or sacred shrines, like the one near Kee Beach dedicated to Laka, the goddess of hula. The Kauai Museum in Lihue is dedicated to telling the story of the island, from its birth up through the Territorial Period (before Hawaii was recognized as a US state in 1959).

Unlike the other islands, Kauai has a unique independent streak. It was the last of the major Hawaiian Islands to be reigned over by King Kamehameha and brought under the umbrella of a united kingdom in 1810. It happened only after Kauai's King Kaumualii finally agreed to give up his territory to avoid all-out war with Kamehameha, who had conquered the other islands.

Kauai's determination to remain distinct and unique lives on. Though Lihue is the county seat of Kauai, it retains the feel of a laid back country town – just the way locals like it. Even the building codes here maintain that no structure is allowed to be taller than a coconut tree.

The island's population of approximately 63,000 is dispersed among mostly small towns. The rugged interior remains wild and largely uninhabited, the domain of the ancient Hawaiian gods.

Locals love nothing more than a big, multi-generational family barbecue at the beach. Parents and kids, brothers and sisters, grandmas and grandpas gather for a weekend cookout at the beachfront parks. They bring along surf and boogie boards and portable music systems to crank out some "Jawaiian," a distinctly Hawaiian and popular local form of reggae music.

This warm and inviting island, with its unique culture and proud history, has an ideal combination of relaxation and adventure – it is the perfect spot for your next vacation.

It is recommended that you bring U.S. dollars for general expenses. For entertainment and shopping, a credit card will give you the exchange rate at your time of purchase. There are multiple ATMs around the island for your convenience, but do note that transactions fees vary by ATM.

Waimea, Princeville, Hanalei, Bali Hai—it seems like every part of Kaua'i is legendary. The island is a place of unparalleled natural beauty, and thus far, all of the commercialization has occurred along the coastline. Although big-city dwellers occasionally complain about the lack of nightlife, most visitors feel that Kaua'i offers a near-perfect tropical getaway.

Lihue—Central Kauai

The first town that one sees upon stepping off the plane is Lihue. While it isn't nearly as industrial as Honolulu, or even Kahului, it holds the County Seat and is home of the island's main airport. It also boasts the Kaua'i Museum and the only still-active sugar mill. Upon heading inland, one quickly notices civilization disappearing—replaced by jungle, waterfalls and finally near impenetrable mountains. But most people don't head inland from Lihue; instead they go in the opposite direction, toward the ocean.

There isn't far to go. The coast is just a few moments' drive away. From there, it's easy to get to one of the island's main resort districts.

Coconut Coast

Just north of Lihue on the East Shore is the famed Coconut Coast, so named because of the hundreds of coconut palms that shade the main highway. The Wailua River runs along this coast, and a half-dozen famous natural attractions cluster around it. Fern Grotto and Sleeping Giant are two favorite sights. Kayaking down the river is a popular pastime.

Several mid-priced hotels are situated on the Coconut Coast, among them is the Aston Islander on the Beach. The area also boasts several upscale bed & breakfasts, including charming Hale Tutu. Most of the island's shopping is located in this area. The major mall, Coconut Marketplace, is located in Kapa'a Town, as are many major chain stores. The Coconut Coast Trolley shuttles visitors up and down the coast, from the Poipu Resort Area in the south all the way up to the Holiday Inn Sunspree Resort Kauai at the Wailua River mouth.

North Shore

Hot, humid and lushly landscaped, the North Shore is home to yet another of Hawaii's incomparable resort areas. Princeville, that land of perfectly manicured greens and spectacular vistas, is known for its golf as well as its other activities. The Princeville Ranch offers everything from hiking to kayaking to horse-drawn carriage rides. Fine dining, world-class health spas and plenty of shops cater to the multi-national tourists.

Just past Princeville the landscape changes and the cars on the road begin to look more and more local; this is due to the proximity of Hanalei Bay and the neighboring beaches, known to be among the world's top surf spots. In the summer a few of the beaches around Hanalei—specifically Tunnels Beach—offer great snorkeling, but when the wintertime swells begin to roll in, all beginners get out of the water, leaving it to the pros. The towns of Hanalei and Haena are small, charming and possessed of an atmosphere unlike anyplace else. They're equal parts village, surf spot and resort district. Ke'e Beach, the beach that borders the North Shore and the West Side, literally marks the border between civilization and the wild.

West Shore

The West Shore might be the most famous part of Kaua'i, but it will never be the most commercially developed. About a half of the coastline belongs to the state park system. Even if it didn't, there would be no way for modern machinery to tame the wilderness. Ke'e Beach marks the beginning of the Na Pali Coast, the majestic stretch of jagged cliffs and hidden valleys that tower 4,000 feet above sea level. Imposing, stunning, ancient and almost magical, the cliffs are a must-see for any Kaua'i visitor. The method of seeing them varies, however. Some people opt for a birds-eye perspective, as seen from a helicopter or private plane. Many people choose to take a catamaran or sailing cruise along the coastline. The most rugged people try their strength against the world-famous Kalalau Trail.

Just southwest of Na Pali is Koke'e State Park, home to famous Waimea Canyon. Koke'e is another hiker's paradise, boasting a dozen trails that range from beginner-level to advanced. Further west still is Polihale State Park, known for its shifting sand dunes. Miles and miles of uninhabited coastline extend to the southernmost part of the island.

South Shore

While it's hard to say which spot in Kaua'i is the most tourist-filled, trendy Poipu on the South Shore definitely claims the largest number of big-name hotels. The Hyatt Regency, the Sheraton Kauai and the Embassy Vacation Resort Poipu Point are all located in Poipu. Near the resort area is charming, funky Koloa Town, a restored old-style village that blatantly angles for Poipu tourist dollars.

But the South Shore is much more than a perfectly 'human-made' resort. The tiny towns of Hanapepe and Kalaheo are throwbacks to last generation, while the botanical gardens near Poipu are in a class by themselves (literally--three of the five National Botanical Gardens are on Kaua'i). Kauai Coffee Company in Ele'ele is a thriving coffee plantation; visitors can tour the fields and the factory. People who shun the resort scene can stay anywhere from a simple guesthouse to a luxurious bed and breakfast. Gloria's Spouting Horn B&B, located near the twin lava tubes across from the Botanical Gardens, is one of the highest-rated bed and breakfasts in the state.  

The island of Kaua'i is small; one can easily drive its circumference in a single day. In many ways it's still a sleepy little island, home to only 50,000 people. But there's a reason it is a favorite of nature lovers, jaded travelers and even Hawaiian locals. There is, quite simply, no limit to the secrets and the surprises of this island.

Citified vacationers joke that Kauai is the sort of sleepy little island that closes up entirely after sunset. That was probably true a few years ago, but the growing tourism industry has brought about more than a few changes to the entertainment and dining scene. But Kauai's strong suit still lies in its traditional Hawaiian entertainment and in its daytime outdoor activities, which are diverse and widespread. Anyone who sticks with diving, golf and surfing in the daytime and luaus at night is likely to be more than satisfied.

Kauai by Day
Ocean Sports/Marine Adventures The Pacific Ocean, in all its glory, provides all the entertainment that some people need. Favorite swimming beaches include Anahola Beach Park on the Coconut Coast and the South Shore's Poipu Beach Park. On the West Side the beaches are gorgeous but desolate and often dangerous. On the North Shore, it's also best to be very careful, especially during the winter months, when swells can reach 20 feet. Never swim at Hanakapiai; this beach reports more drownings than any other place on the island.

Plenty of surf schools are located on the shores of Poipu and Kalapaki Beach. Kalapaki Beach Boys, Kauai Surf School and Learn to Surf are just a few of the companies that teach the island's favorite sport. Not quite as Hawaiian as surfing, but nearly as popular, are body boarding and windsurfing. Anini Beach Park is one of the best spots for windsurfing on the island; it also has a well-reputed surf school.

Snorkel/scuba The crystalline waters off the shore of Kauai offer great snorkeling and diving. Haena State Park is a popular snorkel spot, as is Ke'e Beach. Lydgate Park has the safest year-round snorkeling conditions. Snorkel Bob's rents out snorkel equipment for the day or the week.

Sailing charters The coastal waters off Kaua'i are almost as popular of a hang-out spot as the beaches. Kauai Sea Tours, Captain Andy's and a number of other companies offer a variety of day and evening cruises. Holoholo Charters takes passengers to the Forbidden Isle for snorkeling and sunning. Z-Tour-Z combines snorkeling and rafting to create a unique adventure. Advanced divers can visit a variety of different sites with North Shore Divers and Seasport Divers.

Golf Like its neighbor islands, Kauai is a golfer's paradise, thanks to warm weather, frisky winds and breathtaking scenery. From Princeville to Poipu, the Kauai Lagoons to Kiahuna, the island offers some of the most technically challenging and visually stunning courses in the world.

Museums Kauai's few museums offer historical and educational exhibits about the island. The easiest one to reach is the Kauai Museum, centrally located in downtown Lihue. 

The rugged West Side of the island is home to two other museums. The new West Kauai Technology & Visitor Center traces the history of the island's development, from the ancient mariners to the latest high-tech start-ups. The Koke'e Natural History Museum, located 4,000 feet above sea level in Koke'e State Park, offers educational videos, exhibits and short guided nature walks.

Shopping/galleries Kauai's luxury retail scene is not anywhere near the caliber of O'ahu or even Maui. It's best to shop for souvenirs, handmade craft items and local products. Find quality local merchandise at Kauai Products Fair or the county-sponsored Sunshine Markets. Ching Young Village and Hanapepe Town provide a glimpse of the way Kaua'i used to be. Even large shopping centers such as the Coconut Marketplace and the Poipu Shopping Village are filled with local stores selling local wares.

Kauai by Night

When the sun goes down on Kauai, many people are too tired to do much besides eat dinner and go to sleep. But the people that still have energy can find something to do, even if it's just belting out karaoke tunes at a beach bar.

Performing arts venues: Foremost in Kauai's local performing arts scene is the Kauai International Theatre. A big name indeed—but this 'international' theater only has 52 seats. It presents original and international plays throughout the year, and offers live music concerts on Wednesdays. Groups from the mainland and famous-name Hawaiian musicians often perform at the Kauai Community College Performing Arts Center. For a taste of Broadway, Pacific-style, the Radisson Kauai Beach Resort presents the dinner show A Nite of Broadway every Thursday.

Luaus: Garnering the award for Most Authentic Luau is the nightly Kauai Coconut Beach Resort Luau. Gaylord's at Kilohana Luau gets many peoples' vote for the most picturesque setting. A few other luaus are presented around the island.

Free live entertainment: The main lounges at the Hanalei Bay Resort & Suites and Kauai Marriott Resort are great spots to enjoy Happy Hour, complete with live music and refreshing cocktails. 

Free live shows are presented daily at the Coconut Marketplace at 5 p.m. The Kukui Grove Center has a show every Friday at 6 p.m., and the Poipu Shopping Village presents a Polynesian revue on Tuesday and Thursday evenings.

Movies: Movie theaters are all over the island. There are cinemas at Kukui Grove Center, Coconut Marketplace, Kong Lung Shopping Center and a few other locations.

Bars: All of the major hotels have a couple of upscale watering holes. Rob's Good Times Grill is open till 2 a.m.—late night by Kauai standards. Karaoke, one of Hawaii's most beloved guilty pleasures, is offered at Jolly Roger's. So is that it? Not even close. A few pages can barely begin to describe all that Kauai has to offer. There are kayak trips down the river, hang gliding schools, carriage tours and SNUBA. There is keiki hula. There are day trips to Pearl Harbor.

And that, as they say, is just the beginning.

While one can't assume that the quality of restaurants on Kaua'i will be uniformly high, there are some good bets to be found around the island. First time visitors are well advised to research restaurants in advance. The real jewels are sometimes hidden. The restaurants noted below are just the highlights of each region—of course, there are many more tucked away. Get friendly with a local and they just might share a few insider secrets.

Kapa'a: The Eastern Shore
Kauai's eastern shore, nicknamed 'The Coconut Coast', is a popular tourist destination and therefore home to a variety of restaurants. It is, for the most part, a casual corner of the island.

 Health-conscious diners are best directed to Papaya's Natural Food Market. Everything sold at Papaya's is whole-grain, organic and eco-safe. If all you have in mind is a great cup of coffee, visit Java Kai.

Lihue (The North-Eastern Shore)
Lihue is home to some of Kauai's best-known restaurants, including the Duke's Canoe Club. Duke's Canoe Club has two levels, the lower being a lounge, the upper a gourmet restaurant.

This side of the island has a plethora of local and American restaurants to choose from including Tip Top Cafe and Kalapaki Beach Hut. Ms. Dixie's Deli is a health-conscious option located inside Kauai Athletic Club.

Hanalei/Princeville (The Northern Shore)
Kauai's North Shore harbors some of the island's finest dining. Just a few minutes west of Princeville are the gourmet restaurants of Hanalei. Postcards Cafe is known for its rustic-tropical atmosphere and superb 'healthy gourmet' food.

Relatively new to the North Shore dining scene is Cajun-inspired Chef Joshua's Bourbon Street Cafe, which occupies the place that was formerly Hale o Java. The Hanalei Gourmet is another upscale cafe with a menu of creative salads and sandwiches. The Kilauea Bakery and Pau Hana Pizza is, according to many locals, the best place to go for fresh baked bread—it transforms into Pau Hana Pizza after 3 p.m. 

The West Side
There really aren't many restaurants on this side of the island. In fact there isn't much to be seen of civilization. Grab something in Waimea after a day at one of the parks.

Poipu & the South Shore
The South Shore offers plenty of dining options, although most of its gourmet scene is contained within the resort hotels. The Hyatt Regency alone houses amazing restaurants and  lounges, two of including Dondero's that has fabulous ambiance and quality Italian cuisine.

One of the region's better-known seafood restaurants is Brennecke's Beach Broiler. The beach in front of Brennecke's is frequented by surfers and body-boarders. 

Pizza fans, rejoice! Two of Kauai's best pizza restaurants are located on this side: Pizzetta and Brick Oven Pizza. For patio dining and quality sandwiches, try Poipu Bay Grill & Bar (located on a golf course). 

A number of charming little coffee houses dot this 'hotel row'. Two worth mentioning are Kalaheo Coffee Co and the afore-mentioned Java Kai, formerly Island Java.

While not everyone has the same dining expectations, most people can appreciate an award-winning gourmet menu or a cost-efficient café, if it turns up at the right time. Of these, Kaua'i has plenty. Its other strong suit is, of course, its ambiance. Breathtaking views, oceanfront dining, garden terraces and other little pieces of Paradise can be enjoyed no matter where you sit or what's on the menu.

Kaua’i


State: Hawaii


Country: United States


Kaua'i by the Numbers

Population: 65,930
Elevation: Ranges from sea level to 5,243 feet (1598 meters) at its highest point.
Average Annual Rainfall: Ranges from 21.8 inches (55.4 centimeters) in Waimea to 77.8 inches (198 centimeters) in Princeville.
Average January Temperature: 71.5°F / 22°C
Average July Temperature: 79°F / 26.1°C


Quick Facts

Electricity: 120 Volts, 60Hz, standard two pin plugs

Time Zone: GMT-10

Country Dialing Code: 1

Area Code: 808


Did You Know?

Kaua'i is the oldest of the five main islands in the Hawaiian archipelago. Today, Waialeale, Kaua'i's principal volcano, has eroded and now stands at 5,148 feet at its peak. The volcano is also home to one of the wettest spots in the world; the northern slopes of Waialeale get over 450 inches of rain annually.

Approximately ninety-seven percent of the island of Kaua'i is used for agriculture and conservation.


Orientation

Kauai is located in the Hawaiian Archipelago in the Pacific Ocean, and is the farthest west of all the islands. Kauai is about 74 miles (119 kilometers) west of the island of Oahu.

Kauai is the oldest of the Hawaiian Islands, forged by volcanic forces and sculpted by wind, water and waves. It's incredibly diverse, with steep mountains draped in rainforests, desert-like canyons, rolling farmland, soaring seaside cliffs and white-sand beaches.

The island emerged from the sea floor five million years ago with the eruption of a massive volcano. Today, its eastern rim, Mount Waialeale, is the high point of the island at 1,569 metres.

Like most of the Hawaiian Islands, you can divide Kauai topographically along a line separating the windward and leeward sides. Its northern side is heavily vegetated and hard to explore, while the south is drier and more gently sloped. This terrain is where fortunes were once made from the sprawling sugarcane plantations. Now, the main crops are coffee and pineapple, among others.

Thanks to millions of years of evolution, Kauai offers excellent opportunities for birding and experiencing native ecosystems. Hawaii’s state bird, the endangered Hawaiian goose (or nene), has been successfully reintroduced here. You may spot one pecking away on the manicured lawns of five-star hotels. Kokee State Park protects the rare mountain forests full of native hibiscus and iliau flowers, koa and hala trees. Spectacular Kilauea National Wildlife Refuge is home to an array of seabirds.

The island of Kaua'i formed from gradual volcanic overflow approximately 5.1 million years ago. The oldest of the Hawaiian Islands, Kaua'i has a heritage that is steeped in myth and legend.

Although most mainlanders group all the Hawaiian islands together, many of Kauai's people (and many students of Hawaiian history) consider Kaua'i to have a separate history from its sister islands. Some even insist that it is in fact, 'a separate kingdom'. This theory is based on evidence showing that Kaua'i was once the home of the seafaring Menehune tribe of Central Polynesia. At present, the word 'Menehune' describes a mythical creature similar to an elf or a sprite, but in ancient times they were a brave and formidable tribe, small of stature but long in reach.

Much of what is known about Kaua'i is based around its natural history, and can be better understood through a visit to the Koke'e Natural History Museum.

The first recorded history of Kauai's people began with the Marquesans of Polynesia. They inhabited the island from the time of their arrival (400 A.D.) until the Tahitians finally conquered them 600 years later. The Polynesian bloodlines still run strong on the island: many of Kauai's oldest families are of Polynesian descent. In addition, much of the flora and fauna that flourish on the island was transported from Polynesia during this era of migration.

The ancient Hawaiians had a polytheistic society centered around the concept of mana, which stated that gods could appear in a variety of forms besides divine. Deities could take on human or animalistic shape, thereby passing through society undetected. Many places of worship known as heiau were erected during the ancient times; some are still standing today. Not a great deal of solid fact is verifiable, in regards to ancient religious practices. Most legends and legacies, including that of the Menehunes, are kept alive through Hawaiian chant and song, often performed in conjunction with hula dance.

While the theory is under scrutiny, some historians uphold a belief that Captain Cook (hailed as the white founder of the Hawaiian chain) was not the first person to discover the Hawaiian Islands. Some evidence disproves his claim, showing that one of Spain's navigators discovered the islands by accident—as with so many of history's great discoveries. This Spaniard (by the name of Gaetan) was searching for the vast riches of Mexico. Finding no such jewels or spices in the Hawaiian Islands, he departed shortly after his arrival in 1542, never to return.

Whatever the truth might be, Hawai'i remained a world unto itself until the arrival of Captain James Cook in 1778. He sailed two ships into Waimea Bay on the Big Island, beginning the explosive era that would forever alter the islands, including heretofore blissfully self-sufficient Kaua'i. Initial interactions between Englishmen and native Kauaians were peaceable. Most negotiations involved the bartering of goods (mainly English sundries for edibles), but a few curious Englishmen made overtures into Hawaiian society. They left having gained much knowledge but earned little of material value.

Just more than 30 years later (in 1819), Kaua'i was brought into a union with the Hawaiian Kingdom, agreeing to accept the rule of King Kamehameha I. This arrangement strengthened the chain as a whole, but did little to prevent the eventual surrender of Kaua'i (and all other Hawaiian Islands) to American forces in 1893. At that point, Kaua'i had already harbored European missionary settlements for more than 100 years. It was also the home of numerous sugar plantations; these were quickly becoming the island's best leverage for trade.

Some 50-odd years after Hawai'i was forcibly assimilated into the U.S. territories, it was granted statehood.

Perhaps the single-most influential time in Kauai's recent history was the boom-time of the sugar industry. Up until that era, the sleepy little island had known nothing of trade. The first sugar plantation was founded in Koloa in the year 1835. Plantations like it would eventually attract scores of people from all corners of the world, including East Asia, the Philippines and Europe. Immigrant labor was cheap, with workers being housed in structures known as Camp Houses. A few of these old Camp Houses are still standing today, although they have been completely renovated. Renovated plantation homes such as Grove Farm Homestead Museum and Kilohana Plantation teach visitors about the growth of the sugar industry and its influence on the island as a whole.

With its lush, tropical landscape, breathtaking views and relative seclusion, Kaua'i makes the perfect location for a Hollywood film shoot—particularly if the story is set in the jungle. Kauai's Hollywood history goes back as far as the 1930s, but it entered the international spotlight due to the 1976 production of 'King Kong'. In just the past 10 years, the world has seen Kauai's scenery in movies like 'Hook' (1991), 'Jurassic Park' (1993), 'George of the Jungle' (1997), 'Six Days, Seven Nights' (1998) and 'Mighty Joe Young' (1998). Hawaii Movie Tours takes interested tourists to all the top locations.

The Garden Isle's natural beauty draws visitors from all over the world—and the accompanying natural disasters only slow down the tourism flow for a few weeks at most. Today, a visitor to Kaua'i might not realize that both 1982 and 1992 brought mass destruction, in the form of Hurricanes Iwa and Iniki. Both of these hurricanes devastated the island, but in the near-decade since, Kaua'i has been rebuilt to far outshine its former self.

The Hawaiian Islands continue to develop all the time, in order to accommodate the ever-increasing number of visitors. The Garden Isle is no exception, and the first decade of the new millennium will doubtless prove to be yet another time of phenomenal and constant change.

Car rentals are the most popular option for those looking to explore the island. Driving here is quite easy, especially with Kauai’s small size. There are public buses on the island, but they typically won't get you everywhere you need to go.

While it's not possible to drive around the entire island, you can drive as far as Kee Beach travelling along highway 560 on the north coast, and Polihale travelling along highway 50 in the west.

For your convenience, you can rent a car right from Lihue International Airport or catch a taxi or airport shuttle to get you to and from your hotel and car rental dealership. Just be sure to make a reservation in advance. Rentals go quickly, especially during peak winter holidays. It's also worth noting that gas prices here are quite expensive, so plan wisely.

Arrival

Just three miles away from the town of Lihue, Hawaii's Lihue Airport is the main airport serving the island of Kauai. When you depart Canada, you will first go through security and U.S. Customs. Once you arrive in Lihue, proceed to the general baggage claim area.

If you have pre-booked a transfer or an orchid lei greeting and transfer with WestJet Vacations, please see the Diamond Head Vacations representative in the baggage claim area.

If you are picking up a rental car, proceed from the baggage claim area to the car rental booths located across the street from the airport terminal. Pick up and drop off areas are located behind the car rental booths. Hotel shuttles and taxis are located curb side in front of the baggage claim area.

Keep in mind that Lihue Airport is a 15 to 25 minutes to drive to Wailua and Kapaa and a 30 to 40 minute drive to Poipu. If you're headed to Princeville or Hanalei, it will probably take you around 45 minutes to an hour.

Departure

Smiling WestJetters will be ready to assist you at the international check-in counters at Lihue Airport. The WestJet counters open three hours prior to departure and close 15 minutes after your flight departure time. You can also check in and select your seats ahead of time using the WestJet Web check-in service.

When Hollywood directors go searching for paradise, they often end up in Kauai. South Pacific made the beaches famous. Its waterfalls, ocean cliffs and remote mountain valleys were immortalized in Jurassic Park, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Blue Hawaii, Raiders of the Lost Ark and many other hit films.

Kauai manages to satisfy beach lovers, the action-oriented and the culturally curious. Topographically, it is astonishingly diverse. The Napali Coast has sheer, sharp cliffs, soaring hundreds of metres from the crashing surf. The giant, 1,000-metre-deep rift of Waimea Canyon with its walls of red, orange and green rock is known as the Grand Canyon of the Pacific.

Its challenging surf has shaped the talents of world-class surfers, like the late Andy Irons, who grew up riding the waves of Hanalei Bay on the north shore.

Kauai is also the only Hawaiian Island with wide, placid rivers, like the Wailua, Hanalei and Huleia that allow you to navigate by paddle, oar or motor deep into the heart of the land. It boasts more beaches per kilometre of coastline than any other Hawaiian Island.

It's also one of the rainiest places on Earth. The slopes of Mt. Waialeale receive a whopping 1,150 cm of rain annually. The rain constantly replenishes mountain streams, and feeds the fertile small-scale farmlands that have turned Kauai into a haven for fresh produce. You can find everything from organic lettuce to pineapples and taro root here.

The island also has some interesting Hollywood connections. Out on winding Route 56, where it wraps around the north shore, Richard Taylor, brother of the late Hollywood siren, Elizabeth, once invited a band of hippies to form a clothing-optional retreat on his oceanfront property during the 1960s. These days, celebrities like Pierce Brosnan choose this secluded stretch of coastline as a retreat from the paparazzi.

Though the State of Hawaii has been a global tourist hub for decades, Kauai is just far enough off the beaten path at the northern end of the main islands to make it feel like an unpolished pearl. Once experienced, it's not easily forgotten.

Just three miles away from the town of Lihue, Hawaii's Lihue Airport is the main airport serving the island of Kauai.

It is recommended that you bring U.S. dollars for general expenses.

Car rentals are the most popular option for those looking to explore the island.

Departing from:

^Total price one-way per guest. See terms and conditions.

*Prices are per guest, based on double occupancy and are limited; may not reflect real-time pricing or availability. See terms and conditions.

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