Kauaʻi is the oldest of the eight main Hawaiian Islands, approximately six million years old. With an area of 562 square miles, it is the fourth largest within the Hawaiian Island Chain. Known also as the “Garden Isle”, Kauaʻi lies 105 miles across the Kauaʻi Channel, northwest of Oʻahu.
The highest peak on the mountainous Kaua’i island is Kawaikini standing 5,243 feet high. Kawaikini is the summit of the island’s inactive central shield volcano, Mount Waiʻaleʻale. With an elevation of 5,148 feet high Waiʻaleʻale is the second highest point on the island of Kauaʻi. Waiʻaleʻale is often referred to as the wettest spot on Earth averaging more than 460 inches of rain a year. Although, on average Waiʻaleʻale is the second wettest spot. The title of being “the” wettest spot on Earth goes to Mawsynram, India.
Rain waters have eroded deep valleys in the central mountains, carving out canyons with many scenic waterfalls that formed spectacular coastlines; specifically the Na Pali Coast. On the west side of the island, Waimea River carved out Waimea Canyon, one of the world’s most scenic canyons at 10 miles long and 3,000 feet deep. Waimea Canyon is often referred to as “The Grand Canyon of the Pacific”. Waimea means red or reddish water.
The population of Kauaʻi is estimated to be around 67,000. The most populous town is Kapaʻa with approximately 11,000. Lihue is the second largest island settlement with approximately 6,500. The settlement of Princeville was named in honor of an 1860 visit by Prince Albert Kamehameha, son of King Kamehameha IV and Queen Emma. The area was once the capitol of Kauaʻi.
Origin of the island’s name comes from Hawaiʻiloa. The story relates how he named the island of Kauaʻi after a favorite son; a possible translation of Kauaʻi is “place around the neck”, describing how a father would carry a favorite child. Hawaiʻiloa, the Polynesian navigator is credited with the discovery of the Hawaiʻian Islands, contrary to documentation claiming James Cook did so in 1778.
~ Kauaʻi was known for its distinct dialect of the Hawaiian language; this survives on Niʻihau. While the standard language today adopts the dialect of Hawaiʻi island, which has the sound [k], 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 changed it to the [k].Therefore, the native name for Kauaʻi was said as Tauaʻi, and the major settlement of Kapaʻa would have been pronounced as Tapaʻa. ~