Lihue is a census-designated place (a place designated by the census bureau for statistical purposes and has no form of municipal government of its own) and the capital of both the county and island of Kauai in Hawaii. In the Hawaiian language, the name means “cold chill”.
Fittingly enough, Lihue as a capital is home to Kauai’s only airport, Lihue Airport, as well as its main seaport, Nawiliwili Harbor; making the town both a popular entry point and a center of commerce on the island. The origin can be traced to Lihue becoming the site of several sugar mills and plantations from an ancient minor village in the early 17th century, and then turning into a haven for German immigrants in the late 18th century. Rapid industrialization followed, and is today the site of hotels, major chain stores, car dealerships, and restaurants; as well as the Kukui Grove Center, the island’s largest shopping center. It is also the home of the Kauai Museum, which is dedicated to Kauai’s rich history.
For those who are getting uncomfortable with urbanization, Lihue offers a natural facade. Kalapaki Beach is a testament to Lihue’s emerald waters and is a popular swimming spot; and luaus (Hawaiian-styled parties) can be enjoyed at the sites of former sugar plantations such as Kilohana Plantation. Ninini Point Lighthouse was built to serve Nawiliwili Harbor and is a good spot for those who want to view Kalapaki from above, as the beach and the harbor are located next to each other. Fish lovers need not look further than Alekoko (Menehune) Fishpond, a huge aquaculture facility that was built in a single moonlit night, according to legend. Outside of Lihue, you can witness Wailua Falls, with its stones facilitating the waters falling from a height of 80 feet.
Lihue has two sides: one urban, one natural. Make your trip worth it by enjoying both sides.