The Garden Isle
Kauai has been known for years as “The Garden Isle”. Not sure how many years, but certainly since I moved here 18 years ago and I’m pretty sure much longer than that! It’s definitely Tropical, Green Kauai ~ The Garden Isle!
Ireland is referred to as the “Emerald Isle” but Kauai is even more Emerald than Ireland, which by the way I Love, LOVE Ireland. 3000 foot cliffis of Emerald green dotted with cascading waterfalls into an azure sea. But why “garden isle”?
Tropical & Green ~ on a very big scale!
Well, the first reason is that 95% of the island is undeveloped. And green, very green. I had a cousin in the UK years ago who was very into interior design and having the latest “in” thing. At a certain point it became “de rigeur” as the French say to have plants, preferably tropical in one’s London flat or home. My cousin had what she called a “Swiss cheese” plant that was so nicknamed because it looks as though it has chunks of leaf carved out such as some Swiss cheeses. She marvelled at the size of the leaves.. which were about 8 – 12 inches across in the UK, the largest ones. Whenever I see this same plant on hikes on Kauai, it reminds me of her and I imagine her reaction to the luscious 3 feet across size leaves that so freely populate the landscape. They are actually “Monstera Deliciosa” . Delicious indeed!
I suppose that’s what “tropical” means in a way, or rather the result of being in a tropical climate. Plants grow to a huge size and are just everywhere! Just driving from the airport on the main highway either up to the North Shore or down to the South Shore…. you are just gazing at mountains around you and tropical plants growing along the side of the road dotted with colorful Hibiscus and Bougainvillae all the way. You often go through tunnels of trees framing the road such as the beautiful “tree tunnel” on the way to Poipu.
One of the things I love about Kauai is that the tropical plants are right there on almost all of the beaches. I love to be able to sit under a Palm tree or a Naupaka bush that grows quite tall enough to immerse myself in along the edge of the sand.
I remember going to Malibu beach and being shocked (sorry Malibu) at the fact that all those very expensive movie star homes are yes, right on the sand but there’s no
green and the homes also back right onto the road! Not my idea of a gorgeous beach.
Most of Kauai’s beaches are framed with tropical green all around. It makes a huge difference, you feel as though you are truly in an “out of the way” more secluded beach and place on Tropical Green Kauai ~ the Garden Isle!
Kauai’s most famous valley, Kalalau is a magnificent example of valleys on Kauai: the plants and trees grow all the way to the edge of the river except for the lava rock which provides both a place to hike and a place to lie in the sun and get warm again after splashing about in one of the many pools. Heaven! Being able to pick and eat Guava or Lilikoi (passion fruit) or Bananas isn’t half bad either.
All of Kauai’s valleys are blessed with the presence of both the gorgeous tropical green plants and those that offer bounty : because everything grows so quickly on Kauai, there’s always a supply of exotic fruits.
The wettest spot on Earth, Waialeale in the center of Kauai is the source for more than one river that flow abundantly into the valleys, ensuring the tropical green continues to bless the island. The Hawaiian people – and all indigenous peoples – honor the life giving water as Sacred. And so it is as it gives life to the plants and everyone here.
Kauai has more than one celebrated “view” of mountains.
The Na Pali Coast of course has been photographed, videod (is that a word? sp?) countless times and used in more than a few movies. So has the equally famous “Bali Hai” view, so named after in the movie South Pacific but whose real name is “Makana”.
Then there’s Hihimanu, Nounou, Kalalea, the list goes on. There are not many places on Earth where the mountains are so …well big… and so close. The Rockies are big and The Tetons even bigger, but these mountains are massive yet so close.
The presence of these majestic mountains on Kauai seems to instill a sense of peace, strength as well as unparalled beauty. Then of course, there’s hiking in the mountains, which provides an even more close up view of Tropical Green Kauai!
Hiking in the Green
I’m always smiling when I’m hiking. I find when I smile at other hikers, they always smile back… after all we are out in nature hiking in the green blanket of Kauai and with stunning views all around. So smiling it is then. Don’t we all come back from hiking in a great mood? I’m told that’s because we have all been “earthing”, getting our time on the Earth which is so healthy for us.
There are a few hikes on Kauai where you are literally “hiking through the jungle”… pushing back plants and bushes that grow so abundantly across the path. You do feel a bit “Indiana Jones” like.
Lush is often the word used to describe the jungle and Kauai in many places and so it is…. it’s rather a descriptive word isn’t it? Almost onomatopoeic I feel. The plants are just SO abundant, so lush, it really can feel as though you are deep in the jungle, even on a hike which is not that long and not that far off the “beaten track” as it were.
Palm Trees, Kukui nut trees, Noni trees, Pine trees, Mango trees, Avocado trees, Orange, Lemon & Lime Trees, Banyan trees, Monkey Pod trees, Hibiscus bushes, Aloe, Kaw, Hau bush, Sacred Taro plants, Banana plants, Pineapple plants, not to mention all the herbs : Tulsi, Gotu Kola,
It’s no wonder that Steven Spielberg chose Kauai in which to film Jurassic Park ~ a fairly small island yet Tropical and big enough on a large scale to be the home of dinosaurs! The opening segment flying in by helicopter to the “park” was the Na Pali Coast and the rest of the movie was filmed in Kauai’s lush, tropical and green interior. Personally I am very grateful for the stunning landscape, it truly is Tropical, Green Kauai ~ The Garden Isle.