in the middle of the Pacific, Kauai is the oldest and most lush and tropical of
the Hawaiian islands. There are more beaches along its 90 miles of coastline consisting
of fine white sand. The incomparable beauty of Kauai has earned the name the 'Garden
Isle'. Lush vegetation, striking waterfalls, and tropical rainforests are abundant
on this small piece of pacific real estate. Kauai attracts not only visitors from
honeymooners and families to celebrities and film makers.
Roughly 33 miles at its longest point, and 25 miles at its shortest, the island averages 26 miles in diameter and encompasses 554 square miles. Because of its relatively old geologic age, Kauai's 90 miles of shoreline has more beaches per mile than any other Hawaiian Island.
Most of the interior of the island is very mountainous.
Carved with steep canyons, Mount Kawaikini (5,243 feet) and Mount Waialeale (5148
feet) are Kauai's highest points. Mount Waialeale receives an average of 480 inches
(40 feet) of rain per year, making it the "wettest spot on Earth." This rain water
cascades over hundreds of waterfalls, down streams and rivers as it makes its
way to the ocean. The Waimea River is the state's longest at 20 miles and moves
150 million gallons of water per day into the sea. Kauai's Wailua River is the
state's only navigable waterway.
Not surprisingly, Kauai's interior is mostly uninhabited
with its population of 51,000 living mostly along the shores in small towns like
Lihue, Kapa'a, Koloa, Hanapepe, Princeville, and Hanalei.
Kauai is officially spelled "Kaua'i" with the backward
apostrophe indicating a glottal stop (the way air stops in the expression "oh-oh!").
A definitive pronunciation for Kaua'i is harder to find but most sources say,
"ka-wa'-ee" with the glottal stop between the wa and the ee. You'll often hear
it pronounced "ka-wye'" (with the accent on the second syllable) although this
would not match its official spelling.