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Kauai the Garden Island

Kauai, the furthest of the Hawaiian islands, is often called "the garden island." And, no wonder. With it's lush greenery, tropical rainforests and spectacular waterfalls, Kauai is a place that will truly take your breath away. A trip to the garden island is certainly not complete with visiting the National Tropical Garden, located in Lawai. The long, narrow garden covers just under square miles, and stretches from Lawai to the Pacific.

Contained within the garden are about 800 varieties of palm and 60 types of banana plants, countless tropical flowers and huge water lilies. Another must-see spot on Kauai is Waimea Canyon, described by Mark Twain as the Grand Canyon of the Pacific. Waimea Canyon is ten miles long and about 3,600 feet deep. The last time I visited Waimea Canyon the entire area was shrouded in fog, which is common. So, if you want to ensure yourself of a spectacular view, be sure to call ahead for weather information.

The number for weather info is: 808-245-6001. Of course, a visit to Kauai isn't complete without taking in the 50 miles of white sand beaches which surround this small island. Starting with the North Shore, a few beaches of note include Lumahai Beach, which served as the backdrop for the movie "South Pacific." The surf here can be dangerous, but the surroundings make a spectacular setting for weddings or commitment ceremonies.

There's also Tunnels Beach, known for its wonderful windsurfing, and Hanalei Bay, a semicircular bay, which is the larges on Kauai. Hanalei Bay is considered the finest beach in the islands. Moving along to the east side of the island, you'll find Kealia Beach and Wailua Beach, both considered excellent for bodyboarding and surfing. Kalapaki Beach is located south of Kealia and Wailua Beaches, and is one of Kauai's most popular beaches.

Along the South Shore you'll find Keoneloa Beach, a major windsurfing beach. Poipu County Beach Park is the South Shore's most popular beach, with a sheltered swimming area. If snorkeling is your sport of choice, then you must head out to Poipu Beach.

Another good snorkeling area along the South Shore is Waiohai Beach, which is also a good swimming area. The West Shore boasts Kauai's most famous surfing beach, Pakala Beach. But, beware, shark sightings are common.

One of the widest beaches is Polihale State Park. You get to Polihale State Park after driving a 5-mile unpaved road. For that reason, this beach can be uncrowded.

The time I visited I felt like I had the beach to myself. A great place to watch the sunset. If you wish a truly memorable Hawaiian vacation, then put Kauai at the top of your list. It certainly deserves it. .

By: Diane McCalley

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