The oldest island in the Hawaiian archipelago, Kaua‘i erupted from the sea five million years ago. The island’s age and the rainfall produce dazzling effects — eroded peaks that spiral with geometric decisiveness; cascading currents of water that fall freely; jungle valleys so unexplored that some natives believe they are home to a mysterious race of people; the gorge that Mark Twain called the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific;” breathtaking bays and beaches buffeted for so long by a relentless sea that they shimmer with perfected defiance.
Kaua‘i challenges us to live fully, with each and every sense. To smell sweet ginger wafting through the forest. To touch a rainbow. To contemplate the passage of time. To listen as endangered songbirds test their voices to see if humanity can still hear. To taste the rain. To continually see with wondering eyes as each curve brings yet another eye-popping beach, emerald valley, or jagged cliff.
The sunny South Shore boasts the most popular resort area, Po’ipu. In dry West Kaua’i, you’ll find Waimea Canyon and the grand Polihale beach. The Coconut Coast (the eastern shore) has a dense concentration of places to stay.
On the North Shore, where rain is more frequent, the sands around Kilauea, Hanalei, Lumahai, and Ke‘e are fit for fantasies. And the savagely wild Na Pali Coast is accessible for a couple of miles starting at Ke‘e Beach. — Kim Grant