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The Lihue Destination encompasses Hawaii's two northwesternmost islands, namely Ni'ihau and Kaua'i. The latter island, Kaua'i, is home to the destination's namesake, the city of Lihue. According to the 2010 census, Lihue has a population of 6,455 people, making it the second-largest town on the island.[1] The island of Kaua'i as a whole has a population of 75,161 residents as of 2023.[2] Kaua'i, also referred to as the Garden Isle, offers various attractions, such as the Na Pali coast, which served as part of the set for the movie Jurassic Park; Waimea Canyon; Princeville Botanical Garden; and several beaches.[4] Places to visit in Lihue are the Kaua'i Museum, 'Alakoko Fishpond, Waliua Falls, and Kilohana Estate, among others.[5] According to Weather Spark's beach/pool score for Lihue, the end of May to the beginning of October is reported to be the "best time of year" to visit the area. Temperatures throughout the year range from 66°F to 84°F.[8] On the island of Kaua'i, there are over 80 species of birds. Other types of wildlife include monk seals, Hawaiian bats, sea turtles, and humpback whales.[9]

What Lihue is known for

Among the Hawaiian archipelago is the Lihue Destination, encompassing two islands, namely Ni'ihau and Kaua'i. Cities that can be found on Kaua'i are Princeville, Kapa'a, Waimea, Eleele, Koloa, and the destination's namesake, Lihue. Lihue is reportedly the second largest town on this island in terms of population, having a recorded 6,455 residents as of the 2010 census.[1] According to the same census, the whole island of Kaua'i had a population of 67,091 people. However, there has been a 12.03% growth rate since 2010, with a reported population of 75,161 people as of 2023.[2] Kaua'i is also known as the Garden Isle and ranks as the second-oldest among the primary Hawaiian Islands, following Niʻihau. This island boasts an expansive landmass spanning 562.3 square miles, making it the fourth-largest within the Hawaiian Islands and the 21st-largest island in the United States. Situated 73 miles northwest of Oʻahu across the Kaua'i Channel.[3]

Kaua'i is home to the Na Pali coast, which is regarded as one of the most popular attractions on the island. This landscape is where the movie Jurassic Park was filmed, featuring its cliffs, cascading waterfalls, and vegetation. Another natural area is Waimea Canyon, often dubbed the "Grand Canyon of the Pacific." The canyon is characterized by a variety of colors, fairly deep gorges, and hiking trails. Kaua'i offers an array of outdoor activities, including boat trips along the Na Pali cliffs, kayaking, helicopter flights, hiking, and relaxing on the beaches. The island is also home to gardens such as Allerton Garden and Princeville Botanical Garden, showcasing relatively exotic flora and offering tours for those seeking to explore the surrounding nature. Tourists can visit different beaches, from Lydgate Beach Park to Anini Beach. Additionally, Wailua Falls and Koke'e State Park provide waterfalls and vistas.[4]

The city of Lihue is also home to different types of attractions. One such is Kaua'i Museum, which offers collections from artisans who are from a few of the Hawaiian islands. Other notable attractions in the destination's namesake are the 'Alakoko Fishpond; Waliua Falls; Kilohana Estate; and Grove Farm Homestead Museum, the latter of which was established in 1864. Kilohana Estate, in particular, is a restored plantation from the 1930s that is currently known for hosting lūʻaus.[5]


The Lihue Destination includes two Hawaiian islands, Kaua'i and Ni'ihau, which are the northwesternmost islands of Hawaii's archipelago. Lihue, the destination's namesake, is a town located on the eastern side of Kaua'i, and it is bordered by Hanamaulu to the north and Puhi to the west. This coastal town offers a shorefront along the Kaua'i Channel of the Pacific Ocean, extending from Hanamaulu Bay in the north to the larger Nawiliwili Bay to the south. The town is connected to other parts of the island by Hawaii Route 50, stretching westward from Lihue for 12 miles to reach Kalaheo and beyond to the western side of Kaua'i. Additionally, Hawaii Route 56 leads northward for 7 miles, reaches Kapaa, and continues on to the island's northern regions. According to the United States Census Bureau, Lihue covers an area of 50 square kilometers, with 6.7 square miles of land and 0.77 square miles of water contributing to its diverse geographical features.[1]

Lihue is characterized by a warm, muggy, and partly cloudy climate throughout the year, with temperatures typically ranging from 66°F to 84°F. The town experiences little temperature variation, making it conducive for outdoor activities year-round. When visiting the area for hot-weather activities, it is suggested by Weather Spark's beach/pool score for the area that the "best time of year to visit Lihue" is from late May to early October, as the temperature remains relatively consistent. Lihue's climate is marked by a wet season that lasts eight months, with February being the wettest month, averaging eight days of precipitation. In contrast, the drier season spans 4 months, from early May to the beginning of September, with June being the driest month. June experiences an average of 3.8 days of precipitation.[8]

Kaua'i is a volcanic island located 72 miles northwest of O'ahu, separated by the Kaua'i Channel. As geologically one of the oldest and northernmost of Hawaii's major islands, Kauai has an abundance of vegetation throughout its landscapes. Dominated by Mount Waialeale, which rises to 5,243 feet at the island's center, Kaua'i features a rugged terrain characterized by fertile valleys, fissures, and coastal lowlands. The island is known for its rainfall, with Waialeale's summit ranking as one of the wettest places on Earth. Waialeale's summit receives an average of approximately 450 inches of rainfall annually. Notably, Kaua'i is home to one of Hawaii's only "consistently navigable rivers."[6]

Ni'ihau, the second island in the region, is located approximately 18 miles west of Kaua'i. This island is relatively arid, with dimensions measuring 6.2 miles by 18.6 miles. With a maximum elevation of 1,280 feet at Paniau, Ni'ihau is geologically older than its neighboring island, Kaua'i. It is the remnant of a once larger volcano whose summit and slopes collapsed into the ocean in a prehistoric landslide. The aridity of Niʻihau's climate is primarily due to its location in the rain shadow of Kaua'i and its lower elevation, which prevents it from receiving substantial trade wind rainfall. Instead, Ni'ihau relies on winter Kona storms for precipitation when northerly weather systems bring rain to the region. This climatic pattern results in the island experiencing long periods of drought, with historical records documenting instances of severe droughts that led to migrations of its inhabitants to Kaua'i in search of food during famine.[7]

Kaua'i has a generally diverse range of flora and fauna due to it being one of the oldest Hawaiian islands geographically. Its fairly remote isolation allowed for the evolution of endemic species. There are over 80 different types of birds, including 21 exclusive to the island. The Nene Goose, Hawaii's State bird, is one such species. As the island has an absence of many land predators, the avian population is able to grow with fewer threats. Beyond birds, Kaua'i is a sanctuary for various endangered species, both on and off its shores. Hawaiian monk seals, Hawaiian bats, and three of the world's seven endangered sea turtle species call Kaua'i home, benefiting from the island's coastline wildlife preserves. Endangered humpback whales also frequent the waters around Kaua'i, offering whale-watching experiences.[9]


Lihue was initially a village situated in the district of Puna along the southeastern coast of the island of Kaua'i. The name "Līhuʻe" originates from the Hawaiian language and translates to "cold chill." It wasn't until 1837, under the governance of Royal Governor Kaikioʻewa, that Lihue gained prominence and officially became the administrative center, supplanting Waimea. The town was named after land owned by Kaikioʻewa on O'ahu, which bore the same name. The 1800s marked a fairly significant transformation for Lihue as the sugar industry emerged as a key economic contributor. The construction of a sugar mill positioned Lihue as the island's central city. Early investors, including Henry A. Peirce, Charles Reed Bishop, and William Little Lee, had an influence on this industry. However, in 1856, William Harrison Rice implemented the first irrigation system, causing the plantation to grow. Subsequent owner Paul Isenberg facilitated the emigration of German settlers to Lihue, with the first Lutheran church in Hawaii established in 1883, where services were held in German for decades. By the 1930s, George Norton Wilcox became a major sugarcane plantation owner, purchasing Grove Farm and expanding the industry. Today, Lihue continues to reflect its historical past, with attractions such as Kilohana, once the Wilcox family home and now a restaurant and gift shop, as well as a tourist railroad offering tours of the plantation's grounds. The town also houses the Kaua'i Museum, exhibiting the history of Kaua'i.[1]

Over a millennium ago, the first Polynesians ventured to the Hawaiian Islands and made landfall at Kaua'i, establishing their settlements near the mouth of the Wailua River. The island's history is interwoven with myths, including the menehune, or "little people," who are said to have crafted structures such as the 900-foot stone wall enclosing the ancient Menehune Fishpond (also known as Alekoko) near Lihue. In 1778, Kaua'i witnessed English explorer-navigator Captain James Cook make the first Hawaiian landing on the island. During the late 18th century, Kaua'i and its neighboring island, Ni'ihau, stood as the only Hawaiian islands to resist conquest by King Kamehameha I, ultimately joining the unified Kingdom of Hawaii in 1810 through peaceful negotiations. While sugar once dominated the agricultural landscape, its production ceased in the early 21st century following a protracted decline, giving way to tourism as the island's primary economic activity. Today, Kaua'i is supported by manufacturing, especially in the production of tourist-oriented goods, as well as coffee cultivation contributes to its economy. Lihue, located in the southeast, serves as the island's chief port and business center.[6]