Kauai (Kaua'i in Hawaiian) is the second oldest (after Ni'ihau) and fourth largest of the main Hawaiian Islands, in the United States. Known also as the "Garden Isle", Kaua'i lies 73 miles (117 kilometers) across the Kauai Channel, northwest of Honolulu on Oahu. It is of volcanic origin. The highest point on the island is Kawaikini. It is located 5,243 feet (1,598 m) above sea level. The wettest spot on Earth, with average rainfall of 460 inches (12,000 mm) a year, is just east of Mount Waialeale. The high yearly rainfall has eroded deep valleys and canyons in the central mountain. The waterfalls that have been created by erosion in canyons are now popular tourist spots.
The city of Lihue, on the island's southeast side, is the seat of Kauai County. It has a population of around 6,500, and is the main city on the island. Waimea, which is located on the island's southwest side and the first capital of Kauai, was the first place visited by Englishexplorer Captain James Cook in 1778. It was also the first capital of Kauai. The city is at the head of one of the most beautiful canyons in the world, Waimea Canyon, whose gorge is 900 meters (3,000 feet) deep.