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The Hawaiian Islands of Kauai and Niihau

May 2nd, 2009 Category: Snapshots, Volcanoes

Hawaiian islands - April 13th, 2009

Hawaiian islands - April 13th, 2009

The intense green and brown of Kauai and Niihau, two islands in the Hawaiian Island Chain, stand out against the deep navy blue of the Pacific Ocean.

Kauai is the oldest of the main Hawaiian Islands and the fourth largest in the archipelago, with an area of 552.3 sq mi. Known also as the “Garden Isle”, it lies 105 miles (170 kilometers) across the Kauai Channel, northwest of Oahu.

Of volcanic origin, the highest peak on this mountainous island is Kawaikini at 5243 ft. The second highest peak is Mount Waialeale near the center of the island, 5148 ft above sea level.

High annual rainfall has eroded deep valleys in the central mountains, carving out canyons with many scenic waterfalls.

Lying 17.5 miles (28 km) across the Kaulakahi Channel to the southwest of Kauai, is Niihau, the smallest of the inhabited Hawaiian Islands, with an area of 69.5 sqmi.

Known as the “Forbidden Isle”,  the island has been privately owned since 1864 and is generally off-limits to all but relatives and guests of the island’s owners. Niihau is also referred to as the “Mystery Island”, the “Distant Isle” and sometimes the “Forgotten Island”, as it is frequently omitted on tourist maps.

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