Hawaiian Heritage: The History of Kauai Island
Compared to other American states and islands, Kauai history is truly unique, rich and worth remembering. The birth and development of the oldest island in Hawaii provide and involve a lot of folklore, tradition and culture. A number of popular persons can actually be credited for discovering the island. Some of the natural wonders, products and items found today can be attributed to early visitors.
Around 400 to 500 A.D., Kauai had its first share of settlers who brought basic food products like taro which is commonly used to make poi. The Marquesans sailed from Polynesia and became the first inhabitants of the island. In 1000 A.D., Tahitians arrived and overpowered the Marquesans to settle in Kauai as well. Several of the Polynesians brought many of the plants that you can still find in Kauai today.
Westerners arrived at the scene only during the 1700s. Captain James Cook is the most famous of all western explorers who navigated Hawaiian waters and islands. The HMS Discovery and Resolution of the captain first landed in Waimea Bay, the west coastal region in 1778 resulting to trinket and food trading as well as cultural education from Hawaiian hosts. Captain Cook named the islands “Sandwich Islands” after the captain’s superior officer, the 4th Earl of Sandwich.
Cook however, attempted to kidnap a Hawaiian high chief when a boat was stolen but was killed by the islanders. James King assumed the lost position and a few years later, merchants, missionaries and diseases found their way into Kauai history. There are also undocumented reports that Gaetan, a Spanish explorer was accidentally blown off course into the island in 1542.
In 1810, King Kamehameha took Kauai non-violently from King Kaumuali’i. He reigned over almost all the islands. In 1815, Georg Scheffer, a Russian doctor visited Kauai to hopefully establish trade privileges with King Kamehameha. The island however, was still nominally under the control of King Kaumuali’i so the doctor promised Kaumuali’i to liberate Kauai with the help of Emperor Nicholas I of Russia in exchange for cargo located in Waimea. Fort Elizabeth was then constructed on the western part of the island plus a couple more near Hanalei. Unfortunately, Scheffer was called back to his home country resulting to the fall of Fort Elizabeth into the hands of King Kamehameha.
The Kilauea Lighthouse was created in 1913 at the northernmost point of the major Hawaiian islands which featured the largest glass lens of its kind guiding sailors from the Orient. It continued to function until 1970 and is now considered as a historical landmark. Hawaiian history continued to flourish throughout the years and was well-preserved even after American colonization during the 1900s.
More Historical Sites and Museums
You will find several other historical stories, items and structures all over Kauai island such as Polihale Heiau along the Coconut Coast which is a Hawaiian temple that contains several ancient idol sites on its terraced location. The Hauola Place of Refuge used to be a sacred sanctuary if a person loses in battle or breaks the law. The Waioli Mission House features antique furnishings dating back to 1850.
Kauai Museum features some of the best in Kauai history with artifacts, exhibits and dioramas. Grove Farm Homestead Museum features the Wilcox family as well as how sugar plantations existed in 1860. Kamokila Hawaiian Village lets you experience the ancient lifestyle of the Hawaiian people complete with crafts, games and demonstrations.
Koke’e Natural History Museum boasts the rich flora and fauna of Kauai history. It is located near Koke’e State Park and Koke’e Lodge.