The fact that this small Hawaiian island chain holds the most remote location in the Hawaiian archipelago, nearly 400 km as the crow flies, lends to an interesting migration history. Couple that with a rich culture that developed and is known for its incredible nautical and navigational feats. However, the remote location comes with its own lot of challenges, especially those related to climate-friendly travel.
Kauai’s history is both commemorative of and distinctly different from the other islands. Like the other islands, Kauai was originally inhabited about 1500 years ago by the same Polynesian adventurers who achieved their voyage on canoes when they first landed on the shores of the Big Island of Hawaii. 500 years later, a second wave of sea-canoe travelers migrated to Tahiti this time. It is from the arrival of the first Tahitians that today’s Hawaiian gods, belief structures and many traditions have evolved. A long stretch from these sources to today’s islands that long for climate-friendly travel experiences to continue supporting the local populations while preserving the environment.
Kauai’s name has no particular historical meaning; although, it is a word in the Hawaiian dialect its meaning has been lost over time. Despite the mystery behind the name “Kauai”, an important part of Kauai’s history resides in the preservation of the ancient Hawaiian dialect, before it was extinct, which differs distinctly from the current accepted Hawaiian language.
European traders did not discover the islands until 1778 when James Cook found them and named them the “Sandwich Islands” after one of Cook’s expedition sponsors. Unfortunately, the interaction between Cook and the Hawaiians was not the most friendly, especially when Cook attempted to ransom a chief and was killed in the altercation. Before his death, however, Cook managed to introduce the Hawaiian Islands to the European world, bringing in new European travelers, traders, and businesses. Today, the islands are rather accessible by air travel to close by Honululu and then a private jet or a boat to Kauai.
Air travel is the proven cause of nearly 5% of global greenhouse emissions. Read through this article from Flockeo to understand the links between air travel and tourism and how to travel in a sustainable way.
The island of Kauai is also a perfect example of biodiversity. Environmental Changes provoked by humans have caused the spread of invasive species that has negative effects on the local endemic species. Indeed, the majority of plants have been introduced by humans, as well as coconut palms. Yet nature seems to have been there forever, one has to go deep into the interior forests to go back to the past.
In terms of biodiversity, insects are often forgotten! Out of the 10,000 species recorded on the island, more than three-quarters are found nowhere else on earth.
Similarly to other pacific islands, like Micronesia, climate change is expected to have a number of impacts on Hawaii, including rising sea levels, increased frequency and intensity of storms and hurricanes, and changes to precipitation patterns. These changes could lead to flooding, erosion, and damage to infrastructure, as well as negative impacts on Hawaii’s tourism activity. Additionally, climate change is expected to support the continuous spread of invasive species, that have lived through higher stress than that of the endemic species, which could have negative impacts on Hawaii’s ecosystems and biodiversity.
Discover more about Yap island, Micronesia and other Pacific Islands culture heritage on Flockeo here.
Getting to Hawaii for climate-friendly travel is not easy. The remote location almost certainly imposes the use of air travel to get there for vacations, which, in the current state of technology, has a negative impact on the environment. Minimizing the impact once on site is thus of great importance. According to global statistics from UN-World Tourism Organization, transportation is usually responsible for as much as 70% of the emissions while the activities on site, including the accommodation, are responsible for the rest. Choosing climate-friendly travel and activities, for instance, hiking, birdwatching, fauna and flora discovery, and snorkeling shall allow the travelers to be more in line with environment preservation while bringing benefits to the local population.