Kauai plays key role in new ‘Sports Illustrated’ swimsuit issue

Model Emily Di Donato and Kauai Visitors Bureau executive director Sue Kanoho in New York City. (Photo: KVB)

One of the stars in this year’s “Sports Illustrated” swimsuit issue is no stranger to the spotlight: the island of Kauai.

It serves as the backdrop in 22 pages of the 2015 issue, which will be sold in newsstands across the world.

This is the first time Kauai has been included in the annual edition since 1989. Kauai is the only Hawaiian island featured this year.

The magazine approached the Kauai Visitors Bureau in March 2014. Shooting began a month later in various locations around the island, including Kee Beach, Kekaha Beach, Mahaulepu Beach, Makua Beach, Moloaa Fruit Stand, National Tropical Botanical Garden, Polihale Beach, Smith’s Tropical Paradise, Waimea Beach and Waimea Canyon.

The 18-person crew included five models: Hailey Clauson, Emily Di Donato, Gigi Hadid, Emily Ratajkowski and Irina Shayk.

The Kauai Visitors Bureau utilized funding from the County of Kauai to support “Sports Illustrated” with production costs and the St. Regis Princeville Resort provided in-kind support with special rate accommodations.

KVB executive director Sue Kanoho oversaw Kauai’s logistical support and personally attended many of the shoots. This week, she is in New York City to participate in the issue’s launch, distributing thousands of lei and tropical flowers and conducting a media blitz for travel- and consumer-based journalists.

The Kauai-based “Sports Illustrated” shoot will also be featured in a five-part Travel Channel series.

Hawaii is no stranger to the swimsuit issue. “Sports Illustrated” often features swim and jewelry designers who are either locally based or have Hawaii ties.

This year is no different with swimwear from Tori Praver, Kai Ulu, Makena, Maui Girl, Mila Bikinis and more.

Watch the video below, from SI.com, for highlights from the issue’s Kauai shoot (viewer discretion advised):

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