Geologically the oldest of the main Islands, Kauai was built up some six million years ago through volcanic activity. It is a very mountainous island, with the highest peak being Kawaikini, which is 5,243 feet high. The second highest peak is Mount Wai’ale’ale, which is near the center of the island and is 5,148 feet above sea level. The top of Mount Wai’ale’ale is one of the wettest spots on earth, with an average rainfall of 460 inches on its east side. Often, when looking at the mountain, you will see it covered in clouds and because of this there is an old Hawaiian belief that this is where the ancestors go after they have died. Because of this huge amount of rainfall, many of the cliffs have eroded to form great valleys in the central mountains of the island and feature many, many magnificent waterfalls.
On the western side of the island, you will find the town of Waimea at the mouth of the Waimea River. Over long periods of time, the Waimea River has formed the Waimea Canyon, which is often called “The Grand Canyon of the Pacific." Be sure to check out Waimea Canyon State Park where you can stand on lookouts and see spectacular views and deep access to the geological history of the island which is written into its walls. Another amazing attraction on Kauai is the Na Pali Coast with its spectacular cliffs that fall down into the sea and waterfalls that tumble hundreds and hundreds of feet into the ocean. The Na Pali Coast is so wild that even today no road has been built through the area. But there is a wonderful hiking trail back to the hidden beaches that are inaccessible by car. Or if you are adventurous, you can even try kayaking past the beaches.