Kapaa and its neighboring areas on the east side of Kauai have come to be known as the Coconut Coast. The most populous town on the island, Kapaa enables residents and visitors to enjoy both the scenery of old Hawaii and the conveniences of modern life, including restaurants, shopping, and general services. With average temperatures in the 70s and an average rainfall of only 37 inches per year, this town attracts a diverse population of all ages and ethnic backgrounds.
The first Polynesians to arrive on Kauai (primarily from the Marquesas Islands and Tahiti) settled on the Coconut Coast because of the Wailua River, which flows into the area from the Wai’ale’ale volcano. The river’s fresh water allowed early residents to grow taro, bananas, and of course, coconuts. More recent history saw the emergence of sugar cane and pineapple plantations in the regions surrounding Kapaa. Hollywood even found its way to the town, when portions of Elvis Presley’s 1961 movie “Blue Hawaii” were filmed in the Coco Palms, one of the first hotels on Kauai.
Present-day Kapaa boasts art galleries, boutiques, surf shops, coffee shops, sushi restaurants, and fun local restaurants like Mermaids Café. At the open-air Coconut Marketplace, residents and visitors can experience free hula shows and Hawaiian music, a farmers’ market, clothing stores, and gift shops. The Children’s Discovery Museum offers family-friendly educational experiences, and the area contains several historical sites such as the Holoholoku heiau, where several queens of Kauai delivered their babies.
Outdoor activities abound in and around Kapaa. Walkers, runners, and bikers enjoy the paved seven-mile Ke Ala Hele Makalae Path (or “the path that goes by the coast”), which will eventually extend several miles farther to the south. A number of hikes in the region lead to impressive waterfalls, and the four-mile round-trip trek up Nounou Mountain, also known as Sleeping Giant, allows for panoramic views of the coastline and the center of the island. The nearby Wailua River also provides a playground for kayakers and stand-up paddlers, while Kealia Beach and Lydgate Beach Park offer scenic settings for family fun.
Despite its status as one of the more urban parts of Kauai, Kapaa also has a large residential area and is home to the elementary, middle, and high schools in the region. Community parks, soccer fields, baseball fields, and tennis courts also make the town family-friendly.
Ideally situated on the east shore of Kauai, Kapaa is less than a 40-minute drive from Princeville on the north side of the island and less than a 50-minute drive from Poipu on the south side. Town residents and visitors have easy access to the airport and hospital in nearby Lihue, as well as stores such as Costco, Wal-Mart, and Kmart. Young workers, families, and retirees alike appreciate Kapaa’s ability to deliver both a convenient location and Hawaiian-style charm.