On your way to the crown jewel of the North Shore, Hanalei Valley, you’ll most likely pass by Kapa’a, a small coastal town located on the southeast shore of Kauai.
In the past a fishing village, this town blends in the old and the new, adding an eclectic touch to Kauai’s diverse landscape. And it’s an absolute must-visit when you come to the Garden Isle.
We’ve outlined a brief guide that should help you navigate through the town in less than half a day, making sure you won’t miss any of the most authentic experiences Kapa’a can offer.
Everything You Must See and Do While in Kapa’a
You might want to disregard Kapa’a during your Kauai visit as a tiny coastal town that doesn’t have much. But once you’re here you’ll discover a total opposite—an eclectic storefront that features everything from Kauai’s top restaurant and street food to boutique shops and activities.
Want to see and do it all? Then keep this guide with you while you’re there.
Chances are, you’ll come to Kapa’a by car. Parking can be a challenge here so just leave your car at the north entrance of the town and begin your roam through Kapa’a’s endless streets.
This means that comfortable shoes are a must.
Do your souvenir shopping
If you want to bring something to family and friends from your trip to Hawaii, Kapa’a would be the place to do your shopping.
The Kinipopo Shopping Village has a great selection of local arts and crafts shops that sell Kauai-native goodies: from jewelry to clothing, you can find it all.
Another place to visit is the Coconut Marketplace — it might have a fewer store selection, but shops here come with a truly authentic touch, so you can even buy local art and crafts pieces.
Take a food break
Shopping is always exhausting—even in such a small and cozy place as Kapa’a—so your next move would be to savor some of the most delicious street foods in Kauai.
You can find food trucks all over the town, so make sure to try some of the ‘specials’— get lilikoi (passion fruit) shave ice from gourmet ice cream stands, or even visit the Pono Market, a locals’ and tourists’ favorite for all kind of local foods. This is where you can have your pokes, kim chees, and other kinds of healthy fast food that’s served on the market.
Go in on all or at least some of the activities
Right near Kapa’a, you’ll see the Sleeping Giant, or Nounou Mountain. You can take the Nounou trail and hike all the way up to the top, or opt for a 2-mile trail that opens up magnificent views.
Another hiking spot would be the Uluwehi Falls, or Sacred Falls. This is where you can take a nice refreshing dip into the pool that’s made of this 120ft waterfall.
But even if you’re up for long walks, a visit to Kamokila Hawaiian Village is a must-do. No hiking or trailing here—just a nice view and experience of the Polynesian customs and mode of life. This village recreates the feel of an ancient Hawaiian village, with multiple exhibitions that showcase how Hawaiians used to live, eat, and enjoy life way before.
Well, if you are up for a lazy day, Kapa’a has something to accommodate you, too. Kapa’a has some of the safest beaches on the East coast. There’s Kapa’a Beach Park—a family-friendly beach on spring/summer days—and Anahola Beach Park—a beach that’s perfect for snorkeling and scuba diving. The latter even has some picnic areas so you can grab your lunch from the food trucks and enjoy the meal with a beautiful sea view ahead.
Wrapping Up With a Bonus Tip
The Old Kapa’a Town comes to its most vivid and vibrant self on the first Saturday of each month. This is when they have a monthly Art Walk. Smaller in scale than the Hanapepe Art Night, Kapa’a Art Walk features local musicians, artists, and food trucks that are all dancing to the same vibe, lined up across the streets of Kapa’a.
So make sure to come to Kapa’a on the first Saturday of the month to enjoy this one-of-a-kind experience when locals and tourists all celebrate the riches of Hawaiian culture.