The oldest of the Hawaiian Islands, Kauai, sits under a steady blast of trade winds that sweep in abundant moisture. Expect a wet, tropical climate—especially in the eastern and central areas—complete with swamps and rain forests.
In 1778, when Captain James Cook discovered Hawaii—never mind that plenty of people already lived here—the British explorer sailed right past Oahu, the first island he sighted, and disembarked in Kauai. He and his men spread a few diseases, traded nails for provisions, and left, never to return to Waimea.
Kauai only gets about a quarter as many visitors per year as Oahu, yet it may be the island we all know best, thanks to its amazing topography, full of perfect waterfalls and lush knife-edged mountains. It’s called the Garden Isle for good reason and Hollywood can't get enough of this backdrop, from White Heat in 1934, all the way through Jurassic Park, Raiders of the Lost Ark and the 1976 remake of King Kong. If you want to star in your own gorgeous tropical idyll, pack for Kauai.