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Important Things for Travelers to Know

Driving On Kauai

Kauai has a simple highway and road system.  There is basically one highway that follows the island's perimeter for about three quarters of its circumference.  North of Līhu‘e, the Kūhiō Highway (Highway 56) heads up the east coast and the north shore before dead-ending at the Nā Pali coastline.  The same road is renamed the Kaumuali‘i Highway (Highway 50) where it originates in Līhu‘e and transits the south and west coasts.  It too stops dead, this time at the other end of the Nā Pali coast.  A road branches south from the Kaumuali‘i Highway to Poipu and another road carries travelers up the western rim of Waimea Canyon.  The maximum speed limit on the highways is 50 m.p.h. with slower limits appearing frequently at intersections and populated areas.  Kauai has no freeways.  Kauai County Police uses radar to enforce speed limits and they do write tickets.  Some of their favorite speed traps are at Wailua Beach for northbound traffic, Po‘ipū Road and the Koloa-Poipu Bypass Road.

Courtesy is the rule of the road here.  Drivers will stop to let you enter traffic or turn left onto a busy road.  Please return the courtesy when needed.  Honking the horn is rude.  Most drivers aren't in a hurry, but if you are holding up traffic behind you while taking in the sights, please pull over to allow them to pass.

Vacation Rentals Kauai Hawaii

Directions from locals will include the words: makai and mauka.  On an island, cardinal directions such as north and south mean less than directions that relate to the landscape.  Makai means "to the sea" and mauka means "to the mountain."  When told to turn makai or mauka it will always be the same direction no matter what direction you came from.

The worst traffic congestion on the island occurs in the corridor between Līhu‘e and Kapa‘a, especially during the morning and afternoon rush hours.  The highway has three lanes—two heading north and one southbound lane.  On weekday mornings, a crew lays down traffic cones to effect a center lane reversal.  Traffic is congested all day on Saturdays at the east coast population centers.  The Kapaa bypass road is an alternate route.  Another bypass at Kīpū Road can save time for travelers heading toward Lihue from the west.  The Kīpū bypass is only worthwhile if congestion is bad and you are heading to the airport or points north.


Highway Mileage

North From Lihue on Highway 56 (The Kūhiō Highway)

                                  Miles Minutes

South From Lihue on Highway 50 (The Kaumuali‘i Highway)

                                   Miles Minutes

1 mile = 1.6 kilometers


Hawaii is a reasonably safe place to visit.  The state ranks 42nd in the nation in population and ranks 44th in violent crimes.  In the United States as a whole, 88 percent of crimes are property offenses, while 12 percent are violent crimes against people.  In Hawaii those numbers are 95 percent property crime and 5 percent violent crime.  Crime in Kauai doesn't equal its population percentage of state residents.  In the most recently available statistics, 4.8 percent of the state's population resides in Kauai while it experienced 2.2 percent of the state's violent crimes and 3.7 percent of property crimes.

Criminals mark visitors to Kauai as targets for property crimes.  Each week, the police report in the Garden Island lists the incidents of thefts against visitors.  The cases often involve unlocked rooms being entered or watchful culprits lifting unattended purses in public places.  Awareness and common sense by potential victims can reduce opportunities for these criminals considerably.  A chronic crime problem is theft from rental cars.  The shiny, new cars are easily identified, and usually so are the visitors driving them.  Don’t leave valuables unattended in your car.  Trouble areas are beaches or trailheads, where the car is left unwatched for hours.  Placing items in the trunk doesn’t help much.  In ten seconds, a thief can break the passenger door window, reach in and pull the trunk release, empty the trunk and take off.  Some people suggest leaving items like cameras under the hood.  That might help if you aren’t being watched when you hide the items.  Also, don’t forget about your secret hiding place when you return and drive away.

Agricultural Inspection

Before you can leave Hawaii for the mainland all your bags are subject to an agricultural inspection at the airport.  You will be asked if you have any agricultural products to declare and your luggage will be examined with low level X-ray.  Failing to declare an item can result in confiscation of it and possibly a fine of up to $1000.  Restrictions on the movement of fruits, plants, live snails, and other items from Hawaii to the Mainland are enforced to prevent the spread of fruit flies and other hazardous plant insects and diseases.  Items that are allowed include: coconuts, cooked foods, dried seeds, dried decorative arrangements, rocks or stones, seashells (except land snail shells), and wood.  Prohibited items include: berries of any kind, including coffee berries, cactus plants, fresh flowers of gardenia, fresh pulpy fruits and vegetables (except pineapple), live insects and snails, plants in soil, seeds with pulp and fresh seed pods, soil, sugarcane, and raw sweet potato.


Hawai‘i At A Glance

Nickname: The Aloha State  

Capital: Honolulu

Size: 6,423 sq. miles

Entered Union:  August 21, 1959 as 50th State

State Bird: Nene

State Tree: Kukui (candlenut)

State Flower: Ma‘o hau hele (yellow flower hibiscus)

Kauai Hawaii Vacation RentalState Fish: Humuhumunukunukuapua‘a

State Mammal: Humpback Whale

State Anthem: Hawai‘i Pono‘i  

State Gem: Black Coral

State Motto: Ua mau ke ea o ka ‘aina i ka pono (The life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness)

State Flag:     

Hawaiian Flag

Designed prior to 1816 for King Kamehameha I, the flag has served the Kingdom, Republic and State of Hawaii.  The Union Jack in the corner honors Hawaii’s early ties with Britain; the eight horizontal stripes represent Hawaii’s eight main islands.  

Population: 1,288,198 (42nd in nation)

Life Expectancy: females 82.1 years, males 75.9 years, (highest in nation)

Eight Main Islands:  Hawai‘i (The Big Island), Maui, O‘ahu, Kaua‘i, Moloka‘i, Lāna‘i, Ni‘ihau

Five Largest Cities: Honolulu, Oahu 371,657; Hilo, Hawaii  40, 759;  Kailua, Oahu 36,513;  Kane‘ohe, Oahu 34,970; Waipahu, Oahu 33,108.

Most Remote Point From Coast: 28.5 miles—Hawaii

Miles of Shoreline:  750

Highest Peak: Mauna Kea, Hawaii—13, 796 feet

Lowest Temperature: 9°F, Mauna Kea, Hawaii.  Highest Temperature: 100°F, Pahala, Hawaii

Wettest Place: 460", Mt. Wai‘ale‘ale, Kauai.  Driest Place: 14", Mahukona, Hawaii.

Average Daily Visitor Population: 189,412

Governor: Neil Abercrombie (D)    Lt. Governor: Brian Schatz (D)

U.S. Senators: Daniel Inouye (D), Daniel Akaka (D)

U.S. Representatives:  Colleen Hanabusa (D), Mazie Hirono (D)

State Taxes: Excise Tax, 4.167% added to purchases; Transient Accommodations Tax (T.A.T.), 9.25% added to hotel and condo rates in addition to the excise tax.

Kaua‘i At A Glance

Nickname:  The Garden Island

Island Flower:  Mokihana

Island Color:  Purple

County Seat:  Līhu‘e

Size:  552 square miles; 33 miles long and 25 miles wide

Population:  63,689

Average Daily Visitor Population:  16,160

Five Largest Towns:  Kapa‘a 9,472, Līhu‘e 5,674, Wailua Homesteads 4,567, Kalāheo 3,913, Hanama‘ulu 3,272

Miles of Shoreline:  90

Number of Beaches:  59

Highest Peak:  Kawaikini, 5,243 feet

Most Remote Point From Coast:  10.8 miles

Major Industries:  Tourism; Sugar, Papaya, Coffee and Guava Agriculture

Number of Hotel Rooms:  3,484

Number of Vacation Condominium Units:  2,869

Lowest Temperature:  29°F, Kōke‘e

Highest Temperature:  95°F, Kekaha and Poipu

Geographic Opposite:  Botswana, Africa

Kaua‘i County Mayor:  Bernard Carvalho, Jr. (D)

U.S. Representative:  Mazie Hirono (D)




















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Kokee Museum










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