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.
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.
North From Lihue on Highway 56 (The Kūhiō Highway)
South From Lihue on Highway 50 (The Kaumuali‘i Highway)
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.
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
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)
State 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
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,
Five Largest Cities: Honolulu, Oahu 371,657; Hilo, Hawaii 40, 759; Kailua, Oahu
36,513; Kane‘ohe, Oahu 34,970; Waipahu, Oahu 33,108.