Saturday, December 16, 2006

Why Kauai??

Kauai is the oldest and northern most island in Hawaii. With an area of 542 square miles, it's 45 square miles smaller than Oahu. Yet it is home to only 58,000 people, compared to Oahu's 900,000! When you contrast that with the Washington Metro area's population of close to 6 million, you understand that life on Kauai will be very different. And not only because of the climate (though that's a huge plus!).

Kauai is nicknamed the 'Garden Isle' because it is the most lush of the Hawaiian islands. Because of the abundance of rain, the island is a spectacular palette of green hues. Kauai's Mount Wai'ale'ale, near the center of the island, is actually the wettest spot on earth - with an average rainfall of 460 inches. One thing that struck us during our visit was how quickly the rain moves in and out of different areas on the island. We'd have showers in the morning for a little while, and then the clouds would prance across the island, revealing blue sunny skies for the rest of the afternoon. Never was this more apparent than during our (terrifying) helicopter ride, when we'd move in and out between sun and rain in a matter of seconds as we darted across the island, 10,000 feet up.

Kauai is definitely unique among the Hawaiian islands, and we fell in love with it. For one, most of the island is inaccessible by car. You can see from the map that there is one main highway that hugs the coast of the island (though it doesn't connect all the way around). The center of island is filled with spectacular peaks and valleys, which are best seen either by foot or by air. This beautiful scenery has been the backdrop for countless Hollywood films, including South Pacific, King Kong, Jurassic Park, Mighty Joe Young, Six Days Seven Nights, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Thorn Birds, Honeymoon in Vegas, Lord of the Flies, Hook, and many more. Whenever filmmakers need a paradise-like setting, they fly over to Kauai. (Learn more about movies in Kauai here)

So what made us choose Kauai? Well, the obvious answer is the weather. You just can't beat 70-80 degrees and sunny year round. We were also amazed by the stunning beaches and surreal mountain views. We didn't have much time to hike in the 6 days we visited, so we plan to go back and tackle many of Kauai's countless trails. Also, we enjoyed the rural feel of the place. Even though it's a popular vacation destination, it simply isn't as built up or as touristy as some of the other islands. The entire island shuts down around 10pm. So in terms of a change of lifestyle and experiencing something unique, we felt Kauai had the most to offer.

Some other deciding factors:

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