Kauai Island, northwestern Hawaii, situated northwest of Oahu, from which it is separated by the Kauai Channel, and east of Niihau, from which it is separated by the Kaulakahi Channel. The state's fourth largest island, known as the Garden Island, it was formed by volcanic action and is covered with mountains, the highest being Kawaikini Peak, rising to 1599 km (5243 ft) above sea level. Much of the soil, especially in the north, is fertile, and sugarcane and tropical fruits are raised. Kauai is seamed with canyons, the deepest of which, Waimea, is almost 16 km (almost 10 mi) long and more than 0.8 km (more than 0.5 mi) deep. The main population centers are Lihue and Kapaa. Area, 1431 sq km (552 sq mi); population (1980) 38,856; (1990) 50,947.
Kauai, the wettest and greenest of the islands, is often called the Garden Isle. Perhaps the most scenic island of Hawaii, it is an area of luxuriant vegetation, multihued canyons, and numerous streams and waterfalls. The mountain's highest peak, Kawaikini, rises to 1,598 m (5,243 ft). The windward summit region of the extinct Kauai volcano is one of the wettest areas on earth. Through the centuries the erosive action of torrential streams has produced steep canyons, such as Waimea Canyon. The island's most popular scenic attraction, this great canyon is 16 km (10 mi) in length and has multicolored walls more than 800 m (2,600 ft) high. On the northwest coast the land drops in a series of huge craggy cliffs called Na Pali. Along other parts of the coast, sugarcane and cattle are raised on narrow lowlands. Kauai has served as the backdrop for a number of movies, including King Kong (1976), Raiders of the Lost Arc (1981), and Jurassic Park (1993).
Lihue, unincorporated community, seat of Kauai County, southeastern Kauai Island, Hawaii. Lihue, near the island's main airport and its chief port on Nawiliwili Harbor, is a commercial, distribution, and tourist center. The Lihue Plantation, a sugarcane plantation established by Germans in 1849, is nearby. The Kauai Museum and a community college are here. Population 4,000 (1980); 5,536 (1990); 5,536 (1996 estimate).