On the southwestern coast of Kauai is the sleepy area of Waimea.
The options for housing are many in Lihue. Several homes and neighborhoods are less than thirty years old. Older neighborhoods are predominantly single-family homes, while newer neighborhoods have single-family homes, duplexes, townhouses, and condos in various styles but with a distinct Hawaiian touch. Ultra luxurious beachfront and cliffside condos are some of the newest residential offerings.
Lihue is the main port and second-largest town on Kauai, with many conveniences usually found only in much larger urban areas. It is also the cultural and commercial center for the island and the county seat for Kauai. The international airport borders Nāwiliwili Bay, with its container ship harbor and cruise ship pier. Besides its own many attractions, Lihue is the gateway to all the memorable natural beauty and things to do on Kauai, the Garden Isle.
While often mentioned as separate areas, the former plantation camps of Hanama’ulu and Puhi are part of Greater Lihue. Most of its residential developments have been built on former agricultural lands and constructed from the 1950s on, with new construction ongoing today in a revitalized and rediscovered Lihue.
Lihue presents an abundance of natural features in lush, beautiful surroundings. Whether perched in a hilly forested area, beside a lovely orchard or fairway, next to a meandering stream, on a cliffside overlooking sparkling Pacific waters, or nestled next to a majestic mountain backdrop, Lihue's topography has much to contribute to a dream-come-true home.
Lihue homes are available at various income levels in single-family and duplex homes, townhouses, and condos. Older neighborhoods around the town center have spacious lots with many island plantation, mid-century ranch, and concrete block home styles. Newer developments have more contemporary styles but still with that distinctive Territorial touch. Recent high-end condos have 21st-century contemporary styles that embrace the outdoors and Hawai’i’s lush tropical ambiance.
Most Lihue homes are fee simple; the buyer owns the home and the land beneath it. However, a few properties are leasehold, especially some older condos in Lihue. As a condo leasehold property, the buyer, in a sense, is renting the property.
In addition to the cost of the condo, an agreed-upon annual or monthly lease amount is determined. At the end of the lease, usually 40-50 years, the leaseholder may create a new lease, discontinue the lease and take back the property, or provide the condo lessee with an option to buy the lease.
Generally, a leasehold property is not as expensive as a comparable fee simple property. The buyer may be planning to sell the unit before the lease expires or may hope that an offer to buy the lease is made. A fee simple condo is one in which a buyer purchases the condo and a portion of the condo community property.
Lihue began as a population center with the creation of two sugar cane plantations in the 1850s. Immigrant workers and their families lived in housing “camps” on the plantation.
In the 1940s and 50s, the plantations built new neighborhoods to provide homeownership for workers. Of the approximately 8,100 residents of Lihue today, many are former plantation workers and generational plantation families.
The Lihue community reflects the various immigrant workers brought to the plantations over more than a century: Chinese, Europeans, Japanese, Puerto Ricans, Koreans, Filipinos, and local Hawaiians. And Lihue's population continues to grow with the rediscovery of a revitalized Līhu'e as a vibrant, welcoming place to live.
Sustainability is an essential keystone in Lihue's community goals. And who better to understand that concept than the former plantation workers and their children? While Lihue is implementing 21st-century improvements to create a healthy and safe lifestyle for its citizens, residents are proud of their agricultural heritage, with agricultural lands and gardens all around the area. Lihue has as many farmer's markets as much larger urban areas!
Kauai as the “Garden Island” is lush in its tropical splendor and awesome rainbows due to its abundance of rain. And while Mt. Waialeale, one of the wettest spots on earth, is in the distant background, Lihue has a nice blend of garden-growing rain and sunny, head-to-the-beach weather.
There is little change in the range of temperatures in Lihue. During the year, the temperature generally varies from 66°F (19°C) to 84°F (28°C), rarely dipping below 60°F (16°C) and above 85°F (29°C). January is typically the coolest month, while September is the hottest.
The average water temperature is 75°F (24°C) in February and a warm 80°F (27°C) in September.
December and January generally have the most rainfall, reporting nine days with rain, including trace amounts, while June has the least. The average monthly rainfall in the winter months is 4-5 inches. June has a little more than 1 inch of rain. However, while these are averages, all the islands are prone to flooding when an extremely heavy storm front passes through, causing heavy run-off from the mountains.
Commuting to work from almost anywhere in Lihue is relatively easy unless there are construction delays or accidents. The commute is generally 15-20 minutes. The airport area tends to have the heaviest traffic.
Taxi service is available, and the Kauai Bus operates in Lihue and from Kekaha to Hanalei.
Two public elementary schools (PK-5), one middle school ((6-8), and one high school (9-12) serve Lihue. Kaua'i High School rates 10 of 10 in preparing students for college according to Great Schools criteria. Kawaikini (K-12) is a public Hawaiian Immersion charter school in Lihue.
Island School (PK-12), a private independent college prep school, and Olelo Christian Academy (PK-9) are also in Lihue.
Several pre-kindergarten schools are located throughout Lihue.
The University of Hawai’i’s Kauai Community College is in the Puhi area of Lihue.
Wilcox Medical Center is a general medical and surgical hospital in the Hawai’i Pacific Health System. It is the first American College of Surgeons-verified Level III Trauma Center in Hawaii. For the last three years in a row, the hospital has been recognized for surgical excellence. The American Heart Association has also recognized Wilcox Medical Center for achievement.
The hospital is also an affiliated facility with Kaiser Permanente.
Kuhio Medical Center is a primary health care clinic in Lihue, and Queen’s Medical Center has a specialty health care clinic.
Hawai’i Pacific Health has an urgent care facility in Lihue also. Nearby is the Kauai VA Clinic for veterans.
There is much to discover on Kauai, but the many things to discover in Lihue town alone will keep the new resident delightfully occupied for quite some time - from its natural wonders to its local and cultural history, territorial charm, and more.
There are museums, plantation tours, an ancient fishpond, art galleries and exhibits, arts and crafts fairs, theatre and musical events, hula festivals, and so much more!
Lihue features many opportunities for a healthy lifestyle. Planned communities with generous walkways; a Lihue Loop walking tour featuring local history and culture; bikeways around town; hiking trails, such as the trail to the Ninini Lighthouse; recreational parks; three golf courses; and oodles of ocean activities are just some of the features of Lihue. And more physical exercise can be had walking around the various farmer’s markets with all the locally grown fresh fruits and vegetables!
Considering that Lihue’s current population is just a little over 8,000, it is likely Lihue’s harbor that has made it the nexus for the major shopping venues on the island. The largest shopping mall on Kauai, Kukui Grove Shopping Center, is anchored by Macy’s with local stores such as Times and Longs and nationwide stores such as Starbucks, Kay’s Jewelers, and Ross’s, plus 50 other stores and services.
Costco, Target, Home Depot, and Walmart are nearby. Lihue is also home to all car dealerships on Kauai.
From Hawaiian to Chinese, Japanese, Filipino, Korean, Mexican, and Italian, the various cuisines reflect the ethnicities of the immigrant plantation workers. A plate lunch, food on a paper plate, is typical local fare, often to take out and enjoy with a scenic view. And the food is delicious, perhaps with a recipe or two from back in the day.
Poke is so ‘ono at The Fish Express and Konohiki’s Seafoods. Smiley’s Local Grinds is top-rated for something meatier like chicken katsu or kalbi ribs. Wanna’ try a food truck? Kauai Sushi Station is your sushi and sashimi fix!
Most restaurants in town are rather casual dining, but a few are more upscale. Hualani’s, at the luxurious Timbers Kauai resort, describes itself as an “elegant yet relaxed atmosphere.” The cuisine is Hawaiian Regional, and many ingredients are sourced from its own organic farm or local suppliers. The fish and shrimp dishes are very popular. The unobstructed view of the bay provides a sublime dining atmosphere.
Lihue is a delightful mix of urban and country. All the conveniences of an urban area are here, but in an uncrowded and healthy environment, surrounded by majestic mountains, a beautiful ocean, verdant agricultural lands and forests, rivers, and streams. It has all the wonders of the island's great outdoors just minutes away. Līhu'e is a surburbanite's dream!
On the southwestern coast of Kauai is the sleepy area of Waimea.
Kapaa offers rare and modest plantation-style beachfront homes.
Hanalei captures the true essence of what Hawaii is known for.
Kalaheo has homes that reflect its sugar plantation heritage.
Spacious subdivisions & plantation-style homes make up Koloa.
Kilauea on Kauai is located between Anahola and Princeville.
Wailua offers coastal condos & 2 major residential subdivisions.
Hanapepe is a homespun coastal town in southwest Kauai.