About Kauai

"The Fountainhead of Many Waters . . . a Land of Plenty" This is the mythical, mystical, magical land of “Bali Hai” (our Mount Makana), filmed in the seminal movie "South Pacific" in 1958.  This beautiful, tropical island is just a 25 minute plane ride northeast from Honolulu. Kauai exhibits an incredible array of scenery, recreation, geological and botanical wonders, and weather patterns - not to mention the most pure air in the world ! It is literally a microcosm of the earth.  More than 85 major movies and TV series have been filmed here, from one of history's greatest blockbusters, Jurassic Park (much of it filmed 1/2 mile from Kilauea), to Thornbirds, 10, King Kong, parts of the Indiana Jones series, and so many - until today - due to Kauai's abundance of white sand beaches and "Tropical paradise scenery."   Pronounced cow-eyeÙ-ee (spoken smoothly and quickly). As a courtesy, we are providing sorta local pronunciation suggestions to help you avoid awkwardness – we do not presume to know perfect Hawaiian.

KAUAI COUNTY includes the islands of Kauai and Niihau, the two northernmost major islands of the Hawaiian chain. Niihau lies 20 miles to the West of Kauai. LIHUE, the County seat, is the center of Major economic activities for the County and the location of the two most important transportation facilities; Lihue Airport and Nawiliwili (nahÙ willy willy) Harbor, a deep water port. LeeHooey most people say but it is supposed to be more like Lee Hoo AA. Kapaa is the population center of the Island. NiÙihau (neeÙ ee how) is a privately-owned, entirely rural, island and has often been called “The Forbidden Island” because it is only accessible to the general public through helicopter landings at uninhabited sites.  NiÙihau is the last community in Hawaii where native Hawaiians, secluded from the outside world, preserve the heritage of old Hawaii.  Kauai, the State of Hawaii's third largest, but least populous island, is approximately 555 square miles in area.  Geologically, Kauai is the oldest major island and was Captain James Cook's first Hawaii landing site in 1778.


Kauai County


LAND AREA (square miles)



PERSONS per Square Mile, 2000



HISTORY - Kauai was formed about 5,000,000 years ago (give or take a week) as a large “Shield” volcano (shaped like a warrior's shield by continuous lava flows running toward the sea), approximately where the Big Island is now. Indeed . . . the entire Hawaiian archipelago was formed in that area during the last 40 million years and – with the movement of the tectonic plates – some of the original islands have spent the last 80,000,000 years marching thousands of miles across the northwest Pacific, and eventually going under Japan ! No wonder Japan has so many earthquakes ! And, in the process, many of the Islands have been worn down to nothing but seamounts. There is a new island (Loihi - low ee hee) being formed off the south coast of the Big Island now and it is expected to surface in about 10,000 years. We are taking reservations for oceanfront property on that island – if you are the extremely patient type !   It is estimated that Kauai was originally approximately twice the height and size that it is now and has been slowly eroded to its current, remarkable shape.

Kauai's story is a combination of captivating folklore and very vivid history.   The first people arrived in approximately the fourth or fifth century AD and we can only try to imagine the beauty of these pristine Islands then.  These adventurers traveled by sailing canoe and carried with them weapons and basic food, including taro and other precious plants.

The Islands were well populated by the time Captain James Cook found Kauai in 1778, during his voyage to Alaska. The Hawaiian civilization was organized around the “Ahupuaa” (ah' hoo pu ah' ah) – which was similar to a community that stretched from the top of the mountain to the ocean and provided them with fruit and animals from the mountains, water for growing crops in the stream valleys (they were very sophisticated at channeling the water where they needed it) and sea life from the ocean.  They built stone fish ponds along the shore and managed the sea life for the good of themselves and the sea life.  There was a fairly refined overall government and religion based on “Kapu” (forbidden) and laid out very strict guidelines about what the commoners, the managers, the rulers and the men and women could and could not do.

Kauai's proud history continues as it was the only island not conquered by force by King Kamehameha I, who conquered all the other Hawaiian islands within a few decades of Captain CookÙs arrival (and with the help of some weapons obtained from the visiting ships).  Eventually,Kauai's King Kaumualii peacefully offered Kauai to Kamehameha to avoid more bloodshed.

By the time Captain Cook first landed in Waimea the Kapu system was wearing thin and the Hawaiians were pretty easy converts to the more organized and heavily-proselytized Christianity which soon flooded their Island home – particularly after some of their more popular royalty joined the church. The culture of the Hawaiians was damaged and their population was decimated by the diseases brought to Hawaii by these new peoples, because their immune systems were not prepared for them.

HawaiiÙs new populace was interested in developing business and wealth and so they began to experiment with various agricultural products. Sugar cane was just the ticket but required a huge amount of water and backbreaking labor. The Hawaiians preferred their own lifestyle and didn't want to work so hard so began the various (and variously successful) efforts to import enough labor to build the water tunnels and flumes and do all that it took to support the sugar cane effort (see the chart below under “Population”).

In 1893 some of the Americans in Hawaii illegally seized the reigns from Queen Liliuokalani and the question remains to this day as to whether there will be any redress or formal correction of this travesty.

One of Kauai's most fun legends is about the Menehune, which was an imaginary race of little people who excelled in construction and came out only at night to protect their secrecy and built unbelievable aqueducts, fishponds and other structures, overnight !  These days the myth lives on and everyone blames everything on “The Menehunes”.

roosterKauaʻi is home to thousands of wild chickens, who have few natural predators.  Kauaʻi's chickens originated from the original Polynesian settlers, who brought them as a food source. 1992's Hurricane Iniki caused some pretty major changes on Kauaʻi, including freeing many chickens from their coups, which have since interbred with the wild population and built a huge population of wild chickens and roosters into a pest of great frustration for many – including those who sleep lightly and those who want to have a garden.



Kauai County


Population, 2008 estimate



Population estimate, 2000



White, 2008



Black, 2008



American Indian & Alaska Native, 2008



Asian, 2008



Hawaiian & Other Pacific Islander, 2008



Reporting two or more races, 2008



Hispanic or Latin origin, 2008



High school graduates, age 25+, 2000



Bachelor's degree or higher, age 25+, 2000



Homeownership rate, 2000



Households, 2000



Median household income, 2008



Per capita income, 1999



Persons below poverty level, 2008




All Islands


      250,000 to 300,000

 Some Estimates - 500,000























POPULATION - Kauai County has a 2010 estimated total resident population of 63,680. Around 200 of that total live on Niihau. There are an average of about 18,000 visitors on Island at any given time.  Lihue is the County Seat and has about 6,000 people and Kapaa around 9,000.

Kauai has no ethnic majority. The Filipino population has been the fastest growing, although there are quite a few "Haole's" (howÙohlee, meaning, now, Caucasians) attracted to live on this enchanted Isle.

CLIMATE - Kauai is literally a little microcosm of this planet with an extremely diverse and almost ideal climate. Average temperatures near the coast are 71 in February and March, and 79 in August and September (which is usually the hottest time of the year because the life-saving Trade Winds tend to slow down). The chart at right is from the Lihue area. Of course, the higher one goes up in the mountains, the cooler the temperatures are and we have even seen light snows in Kokee (in the photo at the top) – for a pleasant contrast. Rainfall varies dramatically, depending on the Island location.  At the Poipu (poyÙ poo) Beach resort area, on the southern coast, rainfall averages less that 35 inches per year, while the west side averages 5 inches – which means desert conditions !  Then, the summit of Mount Waialeale (wyeÙ ahlee ahlee) – which is probably only 11 or 12 miles away – is the wettest spot in the World, with an average rainfall of about 480 inches per year !  ThatÙs 40 feet ! Normally, the rugged, mountainous interior of the island has much more rainfall than the coastal areas where most communities and activities are located.

TOURISM - Kauai is only about a 25 minute flight from Honolulu (and there are some direct flights from the mainland) and many feel that it is the most picturesque of the beautiful Hawaiian Islands and has an unlimited number of world-class white sand beaches. KauaiÙs scenic beauties attract visitors and residents from the other Islands and all over the world.  Kauai had over 1,050,000 visitors from the Mainland in 1990, compared with only about 750,000 ten years, which had grown to around 1.4 million in 2000, but the economy caused a bit of a downturn in 2009 and the total was about 931,000.  It is guesstimated that there are around 18,000 tourists on the Island at any given time. During the 1980's, the construction of several top-flight hotels marked Kauai's entry into the super-luxury resort field. Therefore, infrastructure and shopping centers are constantly trying to catch up with the expanding needs of visitors and residents.


VACATION RENTALS and REAL ESTATE - "With Heart" . . . Jim Edmonds has been a licensed, professional Real Estate Broker on the North Shore of Kauai for a combined more than 44 years and we can help you find that DREAM PROPERTY - from the BEACH to a private, country cottage !   We have developed a strong reputation for honesty and good ole-fashioned hard work, while helping many people find the perfect spot for their vacations and their dream property. Please Email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or call (808) 443-8868 for courteous, professional help with all of your Real Estate needs.

RECREATION - There are lots offun things to do on Kauai. There are many things you can do alone or with a friend, such as Picnicking, Hiking, Fishing, Swimming, Snorkeling, Surfing, WindSurfing, Kite Surfing, Watercrafting, Boating, just to name a few. Then there are the amazing, paid activities like Golfing, Boat Tours, Helicopter tours, Zipline Tours, Tubing, Deep SeaFishing,   ATV Tours, Eco Tours, Kayaking, Horseback riding, Movie Tours and much more. Tired Yet ?

Although the Island has a little bus system which was formed after Hurricane Iniki (9/11/92), you will almost certainly need a rental car to find that "Perfect Spot."

BEACHES . . . Deciding which of our awesome white sand beaches to visit might be one of your most challenging daily tasks. KNOW - THOUGH that you MUST NOT GO into the water unless there is a life-guard on duty or you have some type of flotation device. WE LOSE VISITORS every year because they get caught in “Rip Tides” or “Currents”. DO NOT turn your back on the ocean ! When you are playing in the water, (particularly snorkeling) ALWAYS keep your eye on the beach and – if you notice that you are moving fast in one direction – you are in a current. Do not freak out. And DO NOT try to fight it. Preserve your strength and swim steadily perpendicular to the current (toward the beach if you can) until you can get out of it.

If you can find the time to spend a good, long day up in Kokee, you wonÙt regret it. It will blow your mind to be in such a different environment in the tropics. Fabulous, stunning hikes (you can drive to the photo above !), completely different weather and great history and info at the little museum.

You will also find great “GRINDS” on the Island (thatÙs “Pigeon” for Good Food).

ECONOMY - Tourism and Agriculture form Kauai's economic base.  “The King” – Sugar Cane – and the huge pineapple industry have pretty much faded away in the last 25 years, after sugarÙs humble beginnings on Kauai and its dominance since the 1850Ùs. Now flowers, macadamia nuts, Coffee, etc., constitute the County's export produce (although some would argue that this unfairly and incorrectly leaves out “Pakalolo” – marijuana).

Kauai's tourism industry has grown so that it averages well over a million overnight visitors per year !

NS map


The NORTH SHORE - is one of the most picturesque locations in the world and home of some of the most beautiful white sand beaches and famous surf. The temperatures are just a few degrees cooler than other parts of the Island.  Many popular and blockbuster movies have been made on the North Shore –from “South Pacific” to “Jurassic Park”.

PRINCEVILLE - isjust 5 miles west of Kilauea and is the center of resort, golf and real estate development activity for the entire North Shore of Kauai.  With the Princeville Hotel (most recently called the “Saint Regis Resort”) now Five Stars (and having been renovated many times – each time becoming a little more elegant and refined), 45 spectacular golf holes (with the legendary Prince Course among the top 25 courses in the country), a sports complex, and even an exotic, Neptune-fountained entry, Princeville is one of the better-known spots at this end of Kauai. Many of the homes and condominiums in Princeville are owned by “Snow Birds” and other visitors from afar and many of them are available as vacation rentals.


Princeville is a planned resort community and has been the real pioneer in development and began the "Golf rush" in tourism and real estate to the North Shore .. . with the 27 hole "Makai Course," ranked 5th in the state and the new "Prince course," named the top golf course in Hawaii and ranked in the top 25 across the nation immediately upon its opening.

KILAUEA - (kiÙlow way uh) on the other hand, is a charming, sleepy little old town of about 2500 area residents and some of the nicest beaches in the world, and literally grew up in one of the first major sugar cane plantations in the State – which finally closed down in 1971. Kilauea largely prefers its rural, laid-back lifestyle and chooses to leave the tourism and real estate development hustle and bustle entirely to Princeville but Kilauea is demurely testing the waters, mostly with large "Agricultural Subdivisions".

The foremen of the sugar plantations were Scotsmen and, having had the lava rocks removed from the fields to facilitate working the excellent soil, they built many unique homes and buildings with them.  These lava stone buildings are very aesthetic and unusual and give Kilauea an ambiance unique in all of Hawaii.

Kilauea Lighthouse was built in 1875 and has served for many years as the primary landmark for all travelers on the Orient Run. It is located on a spectacular promontory which is the northernmost point of the inhabited Hawaiian Islands. Today, the old lighthouse is still the third most popular visitor destination on the Garden Island even though it is no longer in use. The land surrounding the lighthouse is now a Federal Wildlife Refuge and is home to about 5,000,000 migratory seabirds within 3 square miles.  These include the Mono-Iwas (eeÙ vah – or great frigate birds, with a wing span of up to 6 feet), Laysan Albatross (wing span of 7 feet), red and white long-tailed Tropic Birds, Boobies and many other beautiful and exotic birds, as only befits one of the most resplendent and exotic locations in the world.

Kilauea lies within minutes of many remarkable, and often-deserted, white sand beaches, like “Rock Quarry” (Kahili Bay), “Secrets” (Kauapea), Kalihiwai, Anini and – the largest and most famous – Hanalei Bay, which is about a 3 mile stretch of white sand 10 minutes to the west. Hanalei has been the location of many popular films and is thought by some to be the home of "Puff the Magic Dragon" (in a land called Hanalei – hah nah lay).

Kilauea has been home to many luminaries at different times, including Sylvester Stallone, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Bette Midler and Eshan Kashoggi and – more recently – Will Smith and a few other well-knowns who have all purchased estate or investment property here.

The more popular tourist centers of Lihue (leeÙ hoo eh), Koloa (koÙ low ah) and Poipu are no longer experiencing such a growth monopoly as more and more visitors discover Kauai's "North Shore."  Only 4% of Kauai's total land mass is currently zoned residential, and much of that is already completely developed. The North Shore, with its awe-inspiring beaches, world-renowned surf, higher average annual rainfall, slightly cooler temperatures, small towns with relatively low population density and fewer destination resort hotels, has simply received less tourist and real estate development attention than the Island's south coast.  

SCHOOLS - Although some of the public schools on the Island have a relatively poor reputation, Kauai continues to turn out beautiful, intelligent, athletic and productive young adults.  There are some good private schools (ranging from kindergarten to high school) stepping up to take the baton where the parents consider the public schools to have fallen short.

Kauai Community College – near Lihue – is part of the University of Hawaii system and is a very good Junior college and the University of Hawaii has developed a strong reputation as a State school.

TAXES - State Income tax in Hawaii ranges from 1.4 to 8.25% (over $40,000in income).  There is a Statewide 4% Excise Tax on almost all sales and service.  There is a “Transient Accommodations” tax of 8.25% (increasing to 9.25% in July of 2010) on all vacation rentals.

Property Tax on the Island of Kauai is based on a yearly assessment of the "Fair market value" (see table).

PLEASE CALL JIM at (808) 443-8868 - (please remember that Hawaii is 5 – during winter – or 6 hours earlier than the East Coast) or We have lived in Hawaii for over 35 years and were triple blessed to be able to raise our 3 sons to adulthood on Kauai. I have about 30 years of Real Estate on Kauai and the Big Island and have built a strong reputation of honesty and good, old-fashioned, hard work. We would be honored to help you “Scratch your Real Estate Itch” – whether it be a Dream Home, Land, THIS IS JUST A TEST TO TEST FOR HOUSE TOPS !   Condominium or Anything Else that piques your curiosity !