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Ooaj Travel Guide, tourism, hotel reservation, residence, plane, cheap pension for you holidays in kauai
Free Travel guide Ooaj.com A free travel guide for holidays. Hotels in kauai, Bed and Breakfast!
Kauai (or, more properly, Kaua'i) is the northwesternmost and oldest of Hawaii's major islands. Called the Garden Island, it is covered with lush greenery and tropical plants, watered regularly by abundant rainfall. As the oldest of the islands, it has been changed the most by the forces of erosion, and this has resulted in natural wonders such as Waimea Canyon and the Na Pali Coast. It is also home to more sandy beaches than any other major island in the Hawaiian chain.
In many ways, Kauai is different from the rest of the islands. It's almost as if you've stepped into a separate kingdom, and for many years Kauai was just that in relation to Hawaii. Kamehameha I was able to conquer all the islands by force, except Kauai. Two separate campaigns to take the island ended in failure. In the end, it took diplomacy and a royal kidnapping to bring Kauai into the kingdom of Hawaii.
Kauai is also known as the place where the sugar cane industry in Hawaii was born. Sugar was once the industrial mainstay of the Kauai economy, and although it takes a back seat to tourism these days, it is still very much a part of the island's heritage.
In short, compared to Oahu, Maui or the Big Island, Kauai is smaller, less populated, more rural, and more laid back. That's why it's the favorite destination for many visitors to Hawaii, and for many Hawaii residents as well. Visitors come to explore the island's beaches and natural wonders, but the multitude of resorts on white sand beaches provide ample opportunity to just sit and do nothing if you're so inclined.
Because tourist development reached Kauai considerably later than the other islands, the island has a larger proportion of timeshares, condominiums, and bed and breakfasts. Also, a strict cap on building heights (hotels can be no more than 40 feet high) prevent the development of the mega-resorts and towering skyscrapers found on the other islands.
One look at a map will show you an important difference between Kauai and the more populous islands of Hawaii: Due to the massive Waimea Canyon and Na Pali Coast, no roads circle the island. Once you've made the drive along the south shore to Waimea and seen the canyon, all you can do is turn around and go back the way you came. Same story for Princeville and Na Pali on the north shore. However, if you're truly pressed for time, the island is compact enough that both ends of the road can be seen in the same day.
The major regions of Kaua`i can be defined by their location on the island relative to the prevailing trade winds. The north and east sides of the island are on the "windward" side of the island, where the winds blow onto the shore. These parts of the island tend to get the most rain, and as a result, are the greenest and most tropical parts of the island. The south and west sides of the island are on the "leeward" side of the island, which is tends to be sunnier and drier, since most clouds have already dropped their rain on the windward side of the island.
However, all parts of the island have points of interest for all visitors. Both the rainy and dry sides of the island have fine resorts and beautiful beaches.
The word "city" might be an exaggeration for an island of about 50,000 people, but here's some information on the towns of Kaua`i.
Lihu`e, on the island's southeast side, is the civic and commercial center of the island, host to the island's main airport, county offices, and largest shopping mall (Kukui Grove Center). The Kaua`i Museum (http://www.kauaimuseum.org), located in the old part of Lihu`e, is the island's best museum on the history, geography, and people of Kaua`i.
Kapa`a, on the east side, about a 20 minute drive north of Lihu`e, is the second largest population center on the island. It anchors what is known as the Coconut Coast, which hosts many inexpensive to moderately priced resorts and much commercial activity with many strip malls along the highway. The corridor between Lihu`e and Kapa`a is the island's most congested.
Po`ipu, on the south side, is becoming the major visitor destination for the island, with abundant sun and much resort development. Most of the major hotel/resort chains, such as Hyatt, Hilton, and Sheraton, have their main Kauai resorts here.
Princeville, on the north side, is perhaps the only master-planned community on the island. It is centered on one of the island's most exclusive resorts and golf courses (consistently ranked among the nation's best). Nearby Hanalei is a slice of old-time Hawaii on Kauai's north shore.
Waimea, on the west side, is a small town with a flavor of old Kaua`i. Most visitors pass through town on the way to Waimea Canyon and Koke`e, but the town itself is worth a relaxing visit. Waimea is also home of the West Kaua`i Tech Center (http://www.kedb.com/techcenter/), a major tech incubator. Most research done here is related to the Pacific Missile Range Facility (http://www.pmrf.navy.mil/).
Lihue Airport (LIH) is Kauai's main airport, a small terminal served by interisland flights by Hawaiian and Aloha, and by American and United Airlines offering non-stop service from the U.S. West Coast.
Tip when flying into Lihue: For the best incoming view, select a window seat on the left side of the aircraft. More often than not you'll be landing to the north thanks to the trade winds. From that angle you will see a dramatic cliff view off the left side on final approach.
There is now also a deep water port at Nawiliwili for cruise ships. Norwegian Cruise Lines offers cruises between the islands that start and end in Honolulu.
Rental car is the best way to really see the island-- and the only way to get to some remote (and scenic) sites. Most major rental car companies have offices at the Lihue airport or nearby by shuttle bus.
The Kaua`i bus (http://www.kauai.hawaii.gov/default.aspx?tabid=58) is perhaps the only other way to get around, but will not go to some rural attractions, such as Koke`e. Still, if you are on a budget, this bus will get you around and between the major population centers, such as Lihu`e and Kapa`a, and the major resort/beach areas.
One other option for transport on the island is bicycle. The east side of the island (including Lihue and Kapaa) has plans for a major bike path under development as of early 2005. Parts of this path exist, but the major connections between towns are still along the major highways. Eventually, the entire east side of the island will be connected by exclusive bikeways, making nonautomobile transportation a real option.
There are two main highways on Kauai, both starting in Lihue. Kaumualii Highway (state route 50) heads to the east, through the towns of Kalaheo, Hanapepe, Waimea, and Kekaha before ending at the Na Pali Coast. Kuhio Highway (state route 56) heads north from Lihue, through Kapaa, Kilauea, Princeville, and Hanalei, ending at the other side of Na Pali.
Waimea Canyon and Koke'e State Park
Above Waimea on state route 550. From Lihue, take state route 50 west to Waimea. From there, you can take Waimea Canyon Drive (550) or continue to Kekaha turning onto state route 552, which meets route 550 near its 6-mile mark. Both roads are winding. Most popular viewing point of the canyon is just past mile 11 on route 550. Koke'e is located about 4 miles further. (808)245-6001 for weather information in the canyon.
At over 10 miles long, 1 mile wide, and 3,500 feet deep, Waimea Canyon has been called the "Grand Canyon of the Pacific." Indeed, its colors rival that of its Arizona counterpart, except that Waimea Canyon also adds touches of green that would be absent in the desert. Carved and formed over hundreds of thousands of years by runoff from Mount Waialeale at the center of the island, the canyon shows millions of years of geological history.
Camping and hiking are available above the canyon at Koke'e State Park.
Best time to go is on a relatively clear day, and then after mid-morning (from about 9:30 a.m. on). Otherwise, clouds and fog may obscure the view.
Like the rest of Hawaii, the plate lunch is ubiquitous in Kauai (see the Eat section in the main Hawaii article for more information). However, many of Kauai's beaches and natural attractions (like Waimea Canyon) have no amenities nearby. Pack a lunch and bring enough water for the day - then stop at the restaurants for dinner.
Look for the pink building beside the small school. Very good smoothies made from local fruit and juices. Food is served. Nice outdoor seating. A very casual, "old hippie" kind of place. This has replaced Banana Joe's for us on our drive to the north end.
Fresh bread, great pizza. Sit outside to eat.1 hour drive from Poipu.
Camp in Kokee State Park at Waimea Canyon. State Parks Office, T: 808-274-3444. Rental cabins, T: 808-335-6061. Camping information, T: 808-274-3433.
A great way to stay is to rent a condo.
Kauai Hyatt Resort (http://kauai.hyatt.com) - Another excellent destination on the southern tip of the island. Tip: you can get 50% off rack rates by using airline hotel vouchers -- most airlines hand them out as a perk with award flight bookings. They often surface on eBay.