Kauai Main

Living the (Tropical) American Dream Hawaii's "garden island" more than lives up to its name. Two exceptional tropical botanical gardens – at Lawai, on the South Shore, and near Kee Beach on the North Shore – only set the stage for what many Hawaiians consider the most beautiful of their islands. From the soaring sea cliffs of the spectacular Na Pali Coast to the orange-and-black palisades of Waimea Canyon (often called the "Grand Canyon of the Pacific") and the divergent beauty of nearly 70 white-sand beaches, Kauai is full of natural wonders.

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It looks good on camera, too. More than 50 films have been shot here – Elvis's Blue Hawaii, and Spielberg's Jurassic Park among them – but it was South Pacific, for which Kauai served as the legendary "Bali Ha'i," that made the most of the island's photogenic setting. Even today you can be playing a round of golf at the Prince Course in Princeville, sitting on a surfboard at Hanalei Bay, or walking on Haena Beach and look up to see that incredible landscape, just as it was in the movie.

With its unsurpassed hiking and kayaking, Kauai may also be the Hawaiian island best geared to the adventurous traveler. But at the end of the day, even the most active visitor finds moments when the pace of life slows – and Bali Ha'i calls.

See the route of our new Kauai road trip Kauai is on our list of the Best Islands to Live On