Nestled between hills, wetlands, and a meandering coastline, Kapa‘a is the biggest town on Kaua‘i, a bustling hub that nearly every visitor experiences, if only on the way to somewhere else. It’s worth wandering the folksy downtown streets, where historical buildings harkening back to pineapple’s heyday have been transformed into boutiques and restaurants.
See the seaside and a different view of Kapa‘a on Ke Ala Hele Makalae, a coastal path that skirts beach parks, quiet neighborhoods, and resorts. tinyurl.com/makalae. Walk it or rent a bike at Coconut Coasters. 4-1586 Kuhio Highway. 1-808-822-7368; coconutcoasters.com.
Experience chocolate in its many forms, from cacao tree to artisanal candy bar, on a Steelgrass Farm tour in the hills above town. 1-808-821-1857; steelgrass.org.
Street performers, food trucks, and dozens of arts and crafts vendors make for lively good fun at Kapa‘a Art Walk, a free event held downtown on the first Saturday night of each month. oldkapaatown.org.
Delight in the vast selection of tropical prints at Vicky’s Fabrics, which also sells quilting kits and clever creations hand-sewn and crafted by Kaua‘i residents. 4-1326 Kuhio Highway. 1-808-822-1746; vickysfabrics.com.
Jewelry, accessories, kids clothing, and locally made merchandise not seen elsewhere are the best picks at Crush, a friendly boutique in the Kauai Village Shopping Center. 4-831 Kuhio Highway. 1-808-821-0000.
Colorful window displays tempt passersby into Tropical Tantrum, a purveyor of hand-painted clothing where you may find the perfect printed dress or a sweet aloha shirt. 4-1296 Kuhio Highway. 1-808-822-7302; tropicaltantrum.com.
Fresh-caught fish and locally raised beef and veggies shine at Hukilau Lanai, which serves reasonably priced meals in an open-air dining room at the Kauai Coast Resort. 520 Aleka Loop. 1-808-822-0600; hukilaukauai.com.
Hungry diners line up at Kountry Kitchen for the hearty, home-style fare. Think loco moco, sweet bread French toast, and omelets stuffed with kalua pig, spinach, and cheese. 1485 Kuhio Highway. 1-808-822-3511.
A superclean food truck on the north side of town, Nom Breakfast and Burgers turns out scrumptious fried chicken and waffles, gourmet Kaua‘i grass-fed beef burgers, and addictive tater tot concoctions. 4-1620 Kuhio Highway. 1-808-320-3349; nomkauai.com.