History in Kauai

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Kauai is one of the Hawaiian islands that was formed from volcanic activity in the ocean. It was inhabited by Polynesians around 800 AD. Ironically Captain James Cook was the first Westerner to visit the Hawaiian islands. He visited the island of Kauai on his way to Alaska and he first set foot in Waimea Bay on Kauai. The Kauaiians  thought he was the god Lono. Gifts were given by the Europeans including nails, pigs, and other things the natives had never seen before. The sailors also brought diseases to which the natives had no immunity and many died.

This was one of the islands independent from those united by King Kamehameha I. However, Kauai's King, Kaumualii decided to offer his allegiance to Kamehameha in order to avoid war.


There is a legend connected to Kauai about the Menehune, a race of tiny people that could construct just about anything. They made aqueducts and fishponds often just in one night. They lived in the woods and the Hawaiians shunned them. Today every time something goes wrong, many people blame the Menhune.

Settlers Arrive

In 1820 Christian missionaries came and made the Hawaiians wear clothing; they were forbidden to dance their native dance, the hula. The missionaries taught the Hawaiians how to read and write and started to record Hawaiian history from oral accounts that had been handed down. Children of those missionaries grew up and started to intermarry with the Hawaiians. In 1848 King Kamehameha II gave the Great Mahele enabling common people and foreigners to own land. Sugar Cane farmers imported immigrants to work in the fields, Chinese came in 1852 and Portuguese settlers followed in 1878 with Japanese on their heels in 1885.

Death of the King

In 1891 King Kalakaua visited San Francisco catching a cold that caused his death. His sister, Liliuokalni became Queen. In 1893 American sugar planters and some of the missionary descendants with US Marines imprisoned the queen in her palace. This is where she wrote the song “Aloha Oe” farewell song, and the monarchy in Kauai was done.


Sugar cane and pineapple were the main source of industry for this island from the 1830's up until the 1960's. The tourist industry became important after the Hawaiian Islands achieved statehood and Kauai was called the Garden Island because of the beautiful tropical scenery. 

Hollywood Debut

Kauai was the backdrop for many movies made starting in the 1930's but the most important Hollywood connection was 1976 and the production of King Kong.

Today tourism is the main industry on Kauai. The weather is great and the climate is moderate just perfect for the tourist trade.

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