A coastal bike path is one of many attractions in Kapaa, Kauai. © // 2014 HTA/Tor Johnson
Why visit Kapaa, Kauai? For starters, the east coast town boasts a seaside bike path, cute local shops and food trucks selling tacos, crepes and comfort food.
Better yet, the laid-back burg was recently called one of America's prettiest towns by Forbes magazine. Kapaa’s low-key selling points, from its ukulele store to its old-time architecture, helped land it on Forbes’ 2013 list — the only Hawaii destination to make the cut. A panel of travel experts praised Kapaa’s spirit of Hawaiiana, connection to history and proximity to the beach and ocean.
Following are some visitor highlights in this pretty slice of Polynesia.
Kapaa is the perfect starting point for a paved oceanside route called Ke Ala Hele Makalae, or The Path That Goes by the Coast. Walkers, runners and bikers savor the views on the flat and scenic byway, which starts at Kapaa’s Lihi Park and heads north for four miles. Kapaa-based Coconut Coasters rents easy-riding two-wheelers and tandem bikes by the hour, half day, full day or week.
Kapaa Ball Park turns into a colorful venue for produce and flowers during its farmers market — island-grown foods are perfect for visitors whose accommodations include kitchens. Afternoon refreshments include fresh-squeezed juice and macadamia nuts. Souvenir hunters can find locally made T-shirts and jewelry here. (Wednesdays at 3 p.m.)
This town-wide event raises awareness and builds business for Kapaa’s merchants and restaurants. Shops open their doors with special offers into the evening while artists, chefs and entertainers captivate audiences on the streets. It’s a fun way to meet residents, buy keepsakes, listen to live music and eat great food. (First Saturday of each month from 4:30-8:30 p.m.)
From a Japanese stone lantern that dates back to the 1900s to a former pineapple plantation, the Kapaa History Tour takes guests on a trip back in time. During the 90-minute stroll, participants learn about ancient royalty, longtime businesses and the town’s streets, canals and bridges. The Kauai Historical Society guides are well-versed in Kapaa’s past. (Tues., Thurs. and Sat. at 10 a.m.)
Restaurants to Remember
Cozy Kapaa lays claim to a sizable selection of restaurants. There’s Asian cuisine at Lemon Grass and Restaurant Kintaro. Ono Family Restaurant, Kountry Kitchen, Bubba Burgers, Eggbert’s and Bull Shed draw fans of American food and local dishes. For high-quality fast food, check out the many food trucks parked around town, offering a tasty timeout for sightseers on the go.