Kauai – Regions

Kauai is an island that has a lot of Hawaiian history with the land being preserved to reflect the “old” Hawaii by keeping industrialism at a level where expansion is limited. The people of Kauai work hard at ensuring the natural resources of the island are well cared for and the expansion of large business is kept at a minimum to prevent the island from infiltrating the serenity of the island. This practice keeps traffic manageable on the island with no major highways.

Each region of Kauai has its own distinctive identity, but it has one thing in common – the exquisite beauty. Kauai represents Hawaii the way many visitors envision – a quiet and calm place. Kauai is also visited for its beautiful beaches and lush green forests with hiking trails that provide you with the true beauty of the island.

The five main regions of Kauai include Lihue, the North Shore, the South Shore, the West Side, and the East Side. Each region has its special gift to offer its visitors that will leave them in a completely relaxed state, enjoying the warm sun, tropical breezes, Hawaiian flowers, and endless white sand beaches.


The region of Lihue is home to the island’s government offices and is the only region with small-scale commercialism. This is where you will land when you arrive on Kauai by air to this serene island, which has the highest business activity then any other region on Kauai. Despite being the hub of Kauai, Lihue still has kept its commitment to keeping the Native Hawaiian culture alive by continuing the practices of ancient Hawaii. The locals on this island have also preserved its historical sights that hold timeless history of the island and its settlement. Supplies imported into the island are handled through Lihue at its main harbor, Nawiliwili. Many cruise ships to the Hawaiian islands will also make its stop in Lihue as well. Kalapaki Beach Park is a beautiful area popular in Lihue, as well as Ninini Beach, which still has a light house guiding ships to the island and warning ships that they are approaching a shoreline. This lighthouse has been operating continuously since 1897. Lihue is also known for its history in aquaculture and old plantations. This is where your time in Kauai begins.

North Shore

Large, lush sea cliffs that accentuate the beautiful white sand beaches embrace the North Shore of Kauai. This region also encompasses fields of taro, which is one of the staple foods of the Native Hawaiian diet. The town of Hanalei in this region is where you can get a bite to eat, shop, and even view local art. This region has the islands most beautiful white sand beaches – Lumahai Beach and Kee Beach. This region is also home to the Napali Coast that is only accessible by foot through a well-marked hiking trail, by helicopter, or by boat, keeping this area almost untouched with its remarkable beauty. For a more luxurious vacation or experience, you can also visit the resort area of the North Shore called Princeville. You can find additional adventures in this resort area.

South Shore

In the South Shore region you can find some Native Hawaiian history in the older town of Koloa. A more upscale experience can be found at Poipu, which is a resort area. This region is home to Piopu Beach that once took the honor of being one of the most beautiful beaches in the United States. This area is also filled with natural wonders, such as the Spouting Horn that is a blowhole capable of shooting water into the air at approximately 20 feet or more at other times. This region also nurtures the largest array of Native Hawaiian plants, a coffee farm, and lush green forests. The South Shore is a very cultural region with many preserved historical sites of ancient Hawaii.

West Side

Kauai’s West Side region also is home to historical ancient Hawaiian sites and even more natural beauty of lush greenery. It is most known for what is referred to as the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific”, but is officially called Waimea Canyon of the Pacific. The canyon stretches approximately 14 miles long, about one mile across, and has a drop estimated at 3,600 feet. The West Side is home to the towns of Waimea and Hanapae, which are Kauai’s smallest towns. This region’s most historical event is marked with a statue of Captain Cook designating the time he made his way to the Hawaiian islands, first landing on the West Side region of Kauai in the year 1778. The statue is displayed in this area to mark the movement that would change the future of Hawaii.

East Side

Island locals most commonly know the East Side region of Kauai as the Coconut Coast. It gets this nickname due to the many coconut palms that can be seen in this area. This region of the island is where most of the local residents live. The main towns are Wailua and Kapaa. It has beautiful beaches and many places for visitors to enjoy the serenity of Kauai. It is home to one of the only rivers in Hawaii that can be easily navigated. The surrounding beaches offer residents and visitors a place to surf, swim, or just relax in the sun and sunbathe. One of its most spectacular popular views from this region is the Nounou Mountain that resembles a sleeping giant, which it is also nicknamed.