Eleele, Kauai County, Hawaii

Lying quietly south of the tropical paradise of the county of Kauai is Eleele, a largely unknown Hawaiian island inhabited by over 2,000 local residents. Its silent demeanor is not an accurate reflection of the many beauties that it is hiding if only visitors will give this rather obscure little paradise a chance to shine. Typically Hawaiian, Eleele boasts of sandy white beaches, clear and wide waters and a charming splendor that can only be found in this tropical island center of the Pacific Ocean.

Eleele is a little-known Hawaiian community south of the county of Kauai that is considered by many people as a perfect jump off point to some of Hawaii's major tourist attractions. This is quite understandable as the island is very near to several golf courses such as the Poipu Bay as well as to Kiahuna, two famous golf courses considered as two of Hawaii's most beautiful. Eighteen miles away from Eleele, Lihue Airport and Nawiliwili Harbor can be found, providing excellent means of transportation not only to and from Eleele but to other popular Hawaiian islands.

Literally overshadowed by its more prominent sister-isles, Eleele is nevertheless a typical Hawaiian tropical paradise teeming with sandy beaches, clear blue waters and naturally-grown plantations. Foreign visitors will definitely find this little-known Hawaiian community a perfect candidate for one of the must-see sights in the central Pacific area. In time, it may even get to rival many of Hawaii's highly-popular islands.

Eleele is a census-designated place (CDP), which means that it has been identified by the United States Census Bureau as an area taht needs statistical reporting because its boundaries have no legal status. In addition, Eleele is composed of densely settled people who can only be identified by name. These characteristics are quite common considering that Eleele is an island, much like the rest of Hawaii so geographical boundaries tend to be difficult to establish.

Based on the 2000 census, the island of Eleele has a total population of 2,040, with its total area totalling 2.6 square kilometers, of which 2.1 square kilometers are land and 0.5 square kilometers is water.

Eleele's History

Eleele is one of the communities that make up the south shore of the Kauai county. Its history is closely linked to the evolution of Kauai, which is the oldest of Hawaii's major islands. Aside from Eleele, other islands of the county include Niihau, Lehua and Kaula, the last two being largely uninhabited.

Kauai and its neighboring islands was formed about five million years ago largely as a result of the collapse of the county's ancient volcano, Mount Wai'ale'ale due to the extreme rainfall in and around it, making it one of the wettest places on earth. The islands then are actually the tip of Mount Wai'ale'ale which rose from the ocean floor.

Centuries later, the first settlers of the islands came bringing with them basic food items, including the taro, an instrument used in making poi, a kind of ball used in juggling. The record of these early settlers disproves the common belief that it was Captain James Cook who first came to the Kauai islands.

In the 1700's, the first group of westerners came to the Kauai group of islands, with Captain Cook as probably the most popular. He landed on the west coast of the island in two large ships where he was welcomed by his surprised but friendly hosts with whom he and his companions traded their goods in exchange for food aside from learning about the islands' local culture.

There are present arguments that Captain Cook was not the first westerner to discover the Kauai county. The Spanish navigator Gaetan was believed to have reached the islands by accident in 1542 when his ship was blown off course while travelling to Mexico. He noted the existence of the islands in his charts, but decided to leave it when he failed to find treasures such as gold and silver.

Eleele's Attractions

Though relatively unknown, Eleele is not without its fair share of breath-taking views and attractive sceneries. From Eleele, simply take a hike to the Hanapepe Overlook or to a nearby wooden sidewalk and one can have an awesome view of the Hanapepe Valley, a site of red cliffs, green valley, lush vegetation and bright blue skies that remain untouched by modern inventions. A picturesque view of a classic Hawaiian valley with multitudes of greens including taro, an edible vegetable plant found mainly in Hawaii and sometimes called the elephant ear plant.

Eleele's Port Allen Harbor is another island attraction largely due to the fact that it is host to the famous Holoholo charter boats which regularly take tourists to short trips around the county islands including one to Nihau, more commonly known as the Forbidden Island. From Port Allen, Holoholo trips to Nihau will take only two minutes of leisurely drive.

The spectacular Waimea Canyon, referred to by the American writer Mark Twain as the "Grand Canyon of the Pacific, is yet another must-see place in Eleele. Formed as a result of a deep incision in the Waimea River, Waimea is a ten-mile long and 3,000-feet deep canyon having a unique geologic history created from the combination of the process of soil erosion and the collapse of the ancient Mount Wai'ale'ale volcano.

Other eye-catching sites of this tiny island include sandy beaches, art galleries ,restaurants commercial centers and several sugar plantations notably those found in the Kaumakani area.

Eleele's Economy

With an abundance of sand as well as beaches, it is but natural that most of the residents of Eleele engage in water-related businesses. This includes fishing, a rather seasonal livelihood since the island of Eleele falls under Kauai, one of the wettest places in the world because of the extreme rainfall which visits the place almost on a daily basis. Nevertheless, Eleeleans appear to have found other sources of income, notably tourism. Visitors are likely to engage in several water-centered activities like sailing, surfing, snorkeling and scuba diving among others. These have become sources of steady as well as highly-profitable business ventures for many of the local folks with the Eleelean waters as their primary partner.

Recently however, a more stable form of livelihood has been introduced by the county of Kauai designed to benefit the entire community of islands including Eleele. Dubbed Kauai Made, the program aims to develop and market products made exclusively by the people of Kauai using the island's raw materials. These will be available at the major airports as well as in kiosks that will be established all around the island with the ultimate aim of providing the people with alternative sources of income when Hawaiian waters are not in their friendly mood. For more detailed information on the project, the county government has even created a website that will provide data on the types of Kauai products available, the manufacturers, as well as the retailers who will be carrying them.

Eleele Statistics:

Population: 2,040
Households: 626
Median resident age: 36.0 years
Median household income: $46,705
Median house value: $176,700
Land area: 0.8 square miles
Elevation: 120 feet
Latitude: 21°54'N
Longitude: 159°35'W
Zip code: 96705
County: Kauai
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