World's Best Islands 2010
Courtesy of Kauai Visitors Bureau
2009 ranking: No. 4. The wildest and greenest of Hawaii’s islands (it’s nicknamed “the Garden Island”) jumped two points in this year’s rankings. Kauai has long appealed to nature lovers; more than half of the island is designated as preserve, and its lush mountainous landscapes, punctuated by waterfalls and choked with vines and cascading bougainvillea, are so primeval looking that they were used as film locations for Jurassic Park. Much of the island is inaccessible by car, so the best way to explore is under your own power—by hiking the cliffs and gorges of Na Pali Coast in the north, kayaking the serene Wailua River in the east, or—for a real change of scenery—trekking through the arid red-rock Waimea Canyon in the west.