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Karen Keawehawaii Singing with Raiatea Helm

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History of Kauai Island

Information about the history of the island of Kauai and where to find Kauai history resources on the Internet.

Introduction to Kauai's History

Kauai, Hawaii's Island of Discovery, was the first Hawaiian island to be populated. According to legends, the first inhabitants were Polynesian gods from Tahiti. Legends also say Kauai was home to Menehune, a race of tiny people who were exceptional stonemasons and extraordinary builders. Tradition has it that even before the Menehune, another people called Mu, inhabited the island. Whoever the early inhabitants were, their skills in exceptional ancient stonework are unique to Kauai and are still evident. Archaeologists believe Kauai's first settlers came from the Marquesas, Tahiti, Samoa and other South Pacific islands around 500 A.D.

The intrepid explorer Captain James Cook and his crew first landed in Hawaii at Waimea on Kauai's west coast in 1778. These first tourists to Hawaii shocked the native Hawaiians with their large ships, remarkable attire and strange language. They spent five days on Kauai; learning the culture, language, trading and enjoying Hawaiian hospitality.

Kauai was inhabited briefly by the Russians during the reign of Kaumuali'i, Kauai's last king. He allowed Russian traders to build a fort at the mouth of the Waimea River. The remains of the fort are still standing. Kauai was the only island not taken in battle by Kamehameha the Great when he established the Hawaiian Kingdom. Kaumuali'i ruled until his death in 1810.

Missionaries and sugar altered the face and future of Kauai. Missionary descendants became successful planters and the island was blanketed with green. Hawaii's first sugar plantation was founded in Koloa in 1835. The sugar industry brought an influx of immigrants from Asia and Europe who have shaped much of Kauai's history and contributed to its cultural diversity. Kauai History Resources

Historic Sites on Kauai
Historic districts, United States national historic places, and other historic sites on the island of Kauai.

Kauai Historical Society

Kauai Historic Preservation Commission
A Kauai County commission.

Kauai Island Travel Guide

About the County of Kauai

Islands of Hawaii

State of Hawaii Travel Guide

See also:
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Destinations in Hawaii
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