Kauai, the oldest of the Hawaiian islands, is approximately 5 to 6 million years old! Known as the “Garden Island”, the majority of Kauai is covered in lush forests and sprawling green mountain ranges. With some of the most rainfall in the world occurring in Kauai’s vast mountain ranges and hundreds of years of tropical forest growth, the island is a luscious, budding landscape. Kauai is 552 square miles and has a population of around 72,000 people according to the 2019 US census.
The island was inhabited by Polynesians who settled on the island hundreds of years before the arrival of Europeans, excavations date back to as early as 200 A.D. to 600 A.D.! The Native Hawaiian bloodline stretches back to these original Polynesian settlers, connecting the Native Hawaiian people living on Kauai today back to their ancestors thousands of years ago.
Over the years after western colonialism arrived on Kauai there was a large influx of immigration from places like the Philippines, Japan, China, and Portugal for the Sugarcane Plantation industry brought to Hawaii by the colonial settlers. The population on Kauai reflects this history, with an incredibly diverse population that is rooted in generational history on Kauai, the local population carries an inherited interest and care for their island and community.
Experience Kauai with Intention
It is the goal of the HLTA to cultivate a more holistic understanding of Kauai’s cultural practices, environmental factors, deep-rooted history, and seasonal updates among visitors to the island for visitors and locals alike to have the best experience possible.
Due to the tight-knit community-minded nature of Kauai’s people, there is a sweeping sense of investment in the land, culture, and community here on this island. This sense of care for the land, also known as Malama Aina, is a Hawaiian value that stretches far back into the beliefs of the native Hawaiians who cultivated the land and lived harmoniously with it for centuries. Those who are visitors to this beautiful island are welcome here but the Hawaiian people and those who live here their whole lives, Kamaaina, implore those who pass through to treat Kauai like it is something special to behold, affording Kauai the same kind of care and respect one would expect to be given to a beloved family elder or loved one.
The HLTA believes that if our visitor population arrives on the island well informed on the cultural expectations, customs, and history of Kauai this will improve their experience on the island drastically. Aloha is a concept we are all familiar with, online you’ll find definitions for Aloha as “the Hawaiian word for love, affection, peace, compassion and mercy, that is commonly used as a simple greeting but has a deeper cultural and spiritual significance to native Hawaiians, for whom the term is used to define a force that holds together existence.” (Wikipedia source) You are likely to experience Aloha while you are here, as the local people are full of the Aloha spirit by nature. We would love to welcome you, as visitors, into the practice of Aloha as well upon arrival. As is respect, Aloha is given and earned, and the more intentional and gracious one is when they arrive in Kauai the more they will experience the Aloha spirit!
We are working towards intentional Kauai tourism because our number one goal is helping provide a better quality of life for the Kauai community and our visitors. Let’s ensure you are well prepared, informed, and most importantly excited about your time while you are here. Let us show you the best Kauai experience we possibly can!
At the Hawaii Lodging and Tourism Association, a vast majority of our board and members are working in fields related to the tourist and travel industry on Kauai. The people who make up the HLTA Kauai chapter have lived and worked on Kauai for most of their lives, giving them insight into the world of life on Kauai for locals as well as the time visitors spend on the island! Their combined industry knowledge- from hotel directors to restaurant owners to retail- makes the members of the HLTA Kauai chapter a solid source for all things tourism on Kauai. It is in the best interest of our board leaders and members to invest in a high-quality experience for visitors to the island. We make it a priority to inform those planning a trip to Kauai about the local culture, history, and environment they can expect to interact with while they are here so they can have the best experience possible!
Kauai Recommendation’s from our Board of Directors
From the people behind your favorite Kauai businesses, here are some of the top recommendations from our Board of Directors to assist you in experiencing best of Kauai tourism! Whether you’re looking for Kauai lodging or the best Kauai sightseeing, they’ve got the inside scoop!
General Manager – The Shops at Kukuiula
“A boat tour along the majestic Napali Coast is a must-do for anyone visiting Kauai! Not only will you learn about the history of Kauai and the rich culture of native Hawaiians, but you’ll interact with the amazing sea life we have surrounding our beautiful island. It’s a great family activity that keiki on up to kupuna can enjoy together!”
General Manager – Hanalei Bay Resort
“There’s nothing more magical than watching the sunset in Hanalei Bay during the winter.”
General Manager – The Cliffs at Princeville
“Haena State Park / Ke’e Beach & Hanakapiai Falls. Make reservations!”
General Manager – Royal Sonesta Resort
“I always feel this is an island of Discovery – I always recommend to enjoy the island by Air – Sea and Land – Helicopter Tour , Sail or Zodiac excursion, and walk on the beach or one of our botanical gardens. If you also have a chance enjoy the Kauai Museum which gives you a glimpse of our great history.”
General Manager – Marriott’s Waiohai Beach Club
“The Mahaulepu Heritage Trail is a great coastal walk/hike of approximately 3.5 miles providing pristine views along sand-dune cliffs, limestone formations and an ancient volcanic cave. It provides distant views of the old Koloa Mill and passes next to Medeiros Stables, where you can book horseback tours of the same area, and South Kauai’s rodeo grounds where you can often catch a glimpse of Kauai’s paniolo (cowboys) perfecting their craft. The Koloa Heritage Trail, which ultimately connects with the Mahaulepu Heritage is a total 10-mile walk that meanders from Spouting Horn to Keoneloa Bay with historical markers telling the tales of life in old Kauai.”