Kauai Map | Map of Kauai
Kaua‘i is made up of one giant extinct volcano. The island is located in the tropics at 22 degrees latitude, meaning that it receives direct overhead sunlight twice each year three weeks before and after the summer solstice. (No part of the mainland United States ever receives direct overhead sunshine due to its more northern location.) The island is 553 square miles, with 50 of its 113 miles of shoreline composed of sand beaches. Compared to the other Hawaiian Islands, Kaua‘i and O‘ahu have by far the highest proportion of sand beach shorelines. You might read in brochures about “white sand beaches.” Actually, they are golden sand beaches, unlike the truly white sand beaches found in other parts of the world. Kaua‘i is too old to have any volcanic black sand beaches since the creation of volcanic black sand ends when the lava flow stops. (Waimea’s black sand beach is from lava flecks chipped from riverbeds and from dirt.)
Kaua‘i’s interior is mountainous, with deeply eroded valleys and large plains around most of the coastal areas. Its rainfall is more varied than any place in the world. The northern and eastern parts of the island (called the windward side) receive the majority of the rain, with the southern and western sections (leeward side) considerably drier.
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