Lihue, Kauai’s commercial center, is home to an international airport and receives a large number of visitors every year.
Lihue is often the starting point from where travelers begin their Kauai journey. It has both natural and commercially developed sites to provide a grand start to a much sought after Kauai vacation.
One such great kick-off spot in Lihue is the Kalapaki beach. Owing to its central location, this beach has managed to lure the exquisite Kauai Marriott Beach Resort, to its vicinity. It also has a variety of outlets and amenities to engage visitors, making it an all round vacation spot.
Located beside the famous Nawiliwili Harbor, Kalapaki Bay is protected from big ocean waves by breakwalls on both sides. Moreover, the ocean bottom has a gentle slope, which facilitates great swimming conditions.
Kalapaki is the place where enthusiastic beginners flock towards for paddle boarding, body surfing, and other fun water activities. Although it doesn’t appeal to surfers, Kalapaki does get some visitors from the surfing fraternity.
Some popular pass-time activities on the beach include taking surfing lessons, playing beach volleyball, booking a catamaran cruise and having a family picnic in the beach area reserved for the purpose.
If you’re not a water person, pull out a chair and set base on the lawn to enjoy the ocean breeze and gaze at the ships that visit and depart from the harbor.
There is a neatly paved pathway outlining the sandy beach. A walk along this pathway reveals the vast expanse of the Marriott and the gorgeous features of Kalapaki.
Winter can be rough all over Kauai and it is not different for Kalapaki beach. The beach can lose its natural calm during the rough season due to strong rip currents
Kalapaki beach has a variety of outlets and amenities to attract the crowd, which makes it different from other beaches along the coast. Besides the shopping outlets at the Marriott, Kalapaki beach area has a day spa and salon, a Cafe, Ice cream and shave ice parlor, a shopping center, a clothing store, and a bar/ grill. What more can a tourist ask for?
A footbridge on the southern end of the beach leads to Rice Street, which is worth exploring. The Kalapaki Beach Hut, located on Rice street, has interesting breakfast and lunch options on its menu. The place is well known for its mouthwatering burgers and the Kalapaki shave ice.
Nawiliwili Harbor has been an integral part of Kauai since the 18th century and the local communities have thrived because of it. It became fully functional in the 1930s and has grown into what it is today.
It is located just south of Lihue Airport at the mouth of Hule’ia stream. Nawiliwili Harbor is home to a small boat harbor, a cruise ship, and commercial cargo port and Nawiliwili Yacht Club. Kalapaki beach is located just north of it.
The Nawiliwili terminal is just a 20-minute walk from Kalapaki beach. This is the anchor point for weekly tour ships and ones that arrive from a long voyage. This is where people board on and off the ship.
The nearby beach and other outlets witness increased crowd whenever a ship arrives. Although the beach is fairly large and is not affected by traffic, the shops and restaurants tend to get crowded. It helps to check the arrival schedule of cruise ships if you’re keen on avoiding the crowd.
This was originally a 40-foot tall lighthouse, built in 1897, with an oil lamp that had to be tended all night. After decades of restructuring, what we see today is an eighty-foot tall automated lighthouse standing on lava cliffs at Ninini point, Nawiliwili.
The lighthouse can be accessed via a road that passes through the grounds of the Marriott and the Ocean Course Hokuala golf course. You can either leave the car near the golf course or choose to drive all the way to the lighthouse over the pothole-ridden dirt road. You can also walk through half a mile portion as it has some great views. The airport runway parallels this road. So don’t panic when an airplane swoops over you before landing.
The Ninini lighthouse is a smaller and less interesting version of the Kilauea lighthouse, but the setting is equally captivating. The rocky cliff serves as a perfect vantage point for a panoramic view of the Nawiliwili Harbor, the coast and some beautiful islets. If you love a peaceful environment, don’t be surprised if this tranquil place puts you in a trance.
A great dish involves a combination of certain ingredients mixed in the right proportions. Similarly, the combination of various elements like a paved pathway, ample shade, inviting ocean, water gear rentals, shopping stops, great diners, and restroom facility, collectively deliver a wholesome experience and make Kalapaki a great beach. The only thing missing are the lifeguards. So, please exercise caution while you have a fun time on Kalapaki.