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peak, Hawaii: see KauaiKauai
, circular island (1990 pop. 51,177), 549 sq mi (1,422 sq km), 32 mi (52 km) in diameter, N Hawaii, separated from Oahu island to the southeast by Kauai Channel. Lihue (1990 pop.
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, island.
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Suffused in its legends of menehunes, the little people who could build walled fish ponds in one night, or so it was said-to say nothing of the Menehune Ditch, an aqueduct that archaeologists insist was created before the Hawaiians arrived ftom Polynesia-it was happy in the knowledge that its valley at Hanalei was the birthplace of rainbows, that Mount Waialeale, bulging under the green carpet to a height of 5,080 feet, was the wettest spot on earth, spewing waterfalls from every pore to keep this island a verdant paradise.
The slopes of nearby Mount Waialeale, known as one of the wettest places on Earth, provide an abundant alternative water source, receiving as much as 460 inches (1,170 cm) of annual rainfall.
This is the oldest of the primary islands in the Hawaiian chain, and as such it offers a primordial landscape of dagger-like volcanic protrusions blanketed with vegetation, dense jungle on the slopes of rain-drenched Mount Waialeale, tumbling waterfalls and arguably the most beautiful and secluded beaches in the islands.

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