A day in Kapaa Kauai
Spending a day in Kapaa, Kauai is a must while on the island. Located along the Coconut Coast of Kauai, Kapaa is a quaint little coastal Hawaiian town. Throughout most of the 19th and 20th centuries, agriculture was the main industry in Kapaa. Sugarcane fields and the largest pineapple fields on Kauai stretched for miles through Kapaa. Now home to many tourist attractions and scenic destinations of Kauai, Kapaa can be the perfect place to stay while visiting the island.
Nounou Moutain Range
Along the east side of Kauai, the famous “Sleeping Giant” or Nounou Mountain overlooks Kapaa. The Nounou Moutain Range got its name from the resemblance of a man lying on his back that can be seen when scanning the entire mountain range. Based on local legend, it is believed that the mountain is actually a sleeping giant who has yet to wake up! Hike to the top of the mountain along scenic trails for beautiful views of east Kauai.
The rocky lava shoreline of Kapaa beaches, make them not the best suited for swimming. They are great for watching sunrises, fishing, or having a picnic during the day. Beaches along Kapaa have restrooms, showers, picnic tables, and barbeque grills for all to use for free. The beaches are great to visit while biking the Kapaa Bike Path.
Kapaa Bike Path
As of summer 2013, there are almost 8 completed miles of the Kauai bike path along Kapaa that offer spectacular ocean views. Named Ke Ala Hele Makalae, Hawaiian for “The Path that goes by the Coast,” this is the perfect way to tour through Kapaa from one end to the other. With access to many recreation areas and beautiful beaches it can keep you occupied for hours.
The Kapaa Bike Path is free and open to all. With several access points along the way; it’s easy to hop on and off. The path is used not only by cyclists, but by runners and walkers, as well. Don’t worry about not bringing a bike with you; there are plenty of places to rent beach cruisers in Kapaa.
Kapaa Bike Rental
We rented our bikes for the day through Kapaa Beach Shop. They also have an option to rent them by the week or hour. Bike rental was very reasonably priced and came with a bike basket and lock with chain. It was the easiest rental I’ve ever done only providing our names and paying for our time when we returned at the end of the day. Talk about aloha service!
Kapaa Bike Path Guidelines
- All users of the path should be courteous and respectful of other users regardless of their mode of travel, speed, or skill level.
- When in a group, use no more than one-half of the path to keep it clear for passing traffic.
- Look behind you before changing positions on the bike path to make sure you aren’t going to run into anyone or cause an accident.
- Stay to the right of the path except when passing. Let others know you will be passing by giving a clear warning by voice, bell, or horn before passing. Once you have passed another, move back to the right once past.
- Always stay on the designated bike path or roadway. Don’t cut through the property of others.
- Yield to slower traffic regardless if it’s a cyclist, runner, or walker.
- Respect the Path and Aina (land) by placing all of your litter in the provided trash receptacles and observing all wildlife from a distance.
Coffee and Shopping in Kapaa
We started off our day in Kapaa with a visit to the local coffee shop, Small Town Coffee. Inside we found a quaint little area full of both locals and travelers with friendly service. Outside was a beautiful pond and sitting area perfect for enjoying our coconut flavored iced coffees. We loved those iced coconut coffees so much we drank them down way too quickly.
Once finished with our coffees, we headed next door to Kauai Products Fair to purchase a few gifts and needed items from local vendors. Open daily from 9-5, this is the best place on the island to purchase island-made gifts and fresh produce directly from the artisans and farmers who produce them. Everyone loved everything we got there.
Grab some Lunch in Kapaa
With so many places to choose from, it can be hard to decide where to grab some lunch. After much consideration, we decided on Mermaids Cafe. We were able to lock our bikes up behind the cafe and walk to the front. You can order at the counter and take a seat at one of the outside tables while you wait for your food.
After you place your order at Mermaids, grab a seat for people watching of both locals and visitors. We recommend ordering their Ahi Nori Wrap. It could end up being one of the best things you eat on Kauai and easy to see why it’s a local favorite.
If you have room after lunch, head to Hee Fat General Store to cool off with a Hawaiian shave ice. They provide a very fine shave and an assortment of tropical flavors. Our favorite combination was lychee, pineapple, and lilikoi.
Tour Coco Palms
Just across from Wailua beach, you will find a huge abandoned Polynesian hotel. Coco Palms is a place full of years of Kauai history and folklore. You can take a 2 hour tour Monday-Friday at 2pm with the groundskeeper who has a wealth of knowledge on Coco Palms and all of the going-ons from Elvis to Sinatra during the hotel’s glory days. If you are interested in seeing this beautiful piece of history before it’s made over, do it now. Coco Palms has recently been purchased by new investors and plans to remodel the hotel have already been slated.
Dinner in Kapaa
There are two places we love for dinner in Kapaa- Hukilau Lanai and Kintaro. Hukilau has an exceptional tasting menu we highly recommend. Kintaro has the best sushi and Japanese food on Kauai. For both restaurants, you will want to make a reservation to guarantee seating.
With so much to see, do, and eat in Kapaa, Kauai, we were glad to not only spend a day there, but a whole week. We can’t wait to get back to the island and spend a day in Kapaa, Kauai.
Have you ever visited Kapaa, Kauai?
All photography by Kimmy Hayes © 2014.