Tropical paradise – if ever there was an idea with a powerful grip on the mind, this would be it. And if ever there was a place to match, it is the Garden Island of Kauaʻi. The emerald pinnacles of the Na Pali Coast, the painted walls of Waimea Canyon, the misty mountains of Hanalei and the sunny beaches of Poʻipu radiate outward from the ancient cone of Mt Waiʻaleʻale, all of which is surrounded by a cornucopia of flamboyant marine life. These elements forge a magical union that sets this island apart from the world and, indeed, produce the giddy feeling of having risen above it.
With an astonishing list of outdoor adventures, Kauaʻi will puncture your resort bubble. Here you can soar over tropical valleys, zip through treetops on a cable, paddle to inaccessible beaches and float through mountain caves. Each new experience is a special, often unforgettable, way of interacting with the island.
Kauaʻi inspires more inward explorations, too. The values of the ancient Hawaiians are alive and well here, rooted in mountains, waves, clouds and a holistic understanding of the natural world. You will encounter this in simple ways, such as when someone gives you directions mauka (toward the mountains) or makai (toward the sea). On a deeper level, this traditional culture is built on moderation, balance, fairness and unity, producing a gentle pace of life, strong families and legendary hospitality.
You can’t help admiring the way that Kauaʻi has preserved itself in the face of the 20th century. Here, no town surpasses 10,000 people. By law, no building is taller than a coconut tree, and it is impossible to circumnavigate the coast by car. When a multimillion-dollar ferry arrived to begin service to neighboring islands, Kaua’i residents, concerned over environmental and other issues, blocked its path. It never returned. Visitors do.