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Exploring: Scenic Tours > Kauai
"Hele mai" - come with us on a scenic tour of the island of Kauai, Hawaii. You'll be surprised at the varied terrain, plant life, fauna, geology, and climate variations.
Each region also has a unique social history, which is revealed in its towns, businesses, recreational activities, churches, and schools.
Kauai is nicknamed the Garden Island because of its lush foliage and relatively undeveloped green spaces.
Here is a quick review of each region:
You can start on the North Shore, which includes the magnificent Napali coast (pictured), Hanalei, Princeville, and Kilauea. The North Shore of Kauai gives you a sense of traveling back to pre-historic times while remaining in the 21st Century.
The East Side is often called the Coconut Coast because of the stately groves of coconut palms growing near the shore. On this side of Kauai you can see a sunrise in the morning, a rainbow against the mountains, and a moonrise at night, all on the same day. A mountain ridge called the Sleeping Giant overshadows the towns of Wailua, Waipouli and Kapaa, and there's lots to explore in the foothills above the Sleeping Giant.
Lihue is the island's county and state government seat, as well as business center. The main airport and harbor are near Lihue, adjacent to beautiful Kalapaki Beach. Sheltered by mountains on one side and bordered by acres of sugar cane on the other, this center of commerce and government is also a focal point for cultural events, education, resort, and retail services.
On the South Shore, Poipu Beach (pictured) is a sunny, relaxed resort area full of outdoor activities, hospitable accommodations, good dining, and great snorkeling and surfing. The South Shore is also home to the famous Spouting Horn blow hole, to the Maha'ulepu coastal preserve, and to Koloa, a mill town founded around the first sugar plantation in all of Hawaii.
Though the still-standing sugar mill has long since been retired, Koloa Town still boasts a host of shops, galleries, and eateries to sweeten the Kauai experience. Every year, in late July, Koloa Town celebrates its Koloa Plantation Days, a week of parades, festivals, and fun. On the South Shore, you can view the sunrise and sunset, all in the same day from the same ocean spot.
The West Side, comprising Hanapepe, Eleele, Waimea, and Kekaha, and acres of sugar cane, coffee, pastures, and other crops. This area feels and looks like Old Hawaii, yet the off-limits Pacific Missile Range Facility in Mana quietly tests high-tech defense systems next to Polihale Beach, accessible over the sand dunes of the west end of the island.
The land rises to Kokee State Park, an upland forest along the rim of the magnificent Waimea Canyon (pictured), dubbed by Mark Twain as the "Grand Canyon of the Pacific." Offshore, the off-limits island of Ni'ihau is home to a tight-knit community of native Hawaiians -- travel there is by invitation only. But your trek through the Garden of Island of Kauai awaits you freely.
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