E Komo Mai! You made it to Kapa’a, Kauai. Now what? Do you have a great place to stay? Know where to eat? Did you rent a car? Do you have any plans for what you will be doing during your stay on Garden Island?
Kauai’s best beach vibe, Kapa’a town sits on the coconut coastline. Once the home of the famed Coco Palm Resort, where the infamous Blue Hawaii featuring Elvis was filmed. You can find coconut trees lining the oceanfront, so there is never a shortage of trees to hang your hammock for those laid-back moments.
Even with the Kapa’a crawl, you won’t mind the traffic because the views are amazing along the coastline. Kapa’a is located on the East side of the island and offers the stunning sunrises that you come to expect while in Hawaii. These are all the best things to do and places to visit in Kapa’a, Kauai.
Lydgate Beach Park
There are several beach parks to stop and see and one of the most family-friendly options is Lydgate Beach Park. Lydgate Beach Park has two different children’s playgrounds and two pools to swim at, full of clear salt water. The reef surrounds these two pools, so they are very shallow, which is great for children. One side offers the ability to lounge in the sun and snorkel.
The Pualu are some of the friendliest fish and will swim with you. You can also play in the waves as they crash over the reef at Lydgate Beach Park. In addition, there is plenty of parking and trees to take shade and picnic, some of the shelters even offer charcoal grills.
Kapa’a Beach Park
Kapa’a beach park is just off of the Ke Ala Hele Makalae trail. This is an eight-mile trail for walking or biking. You can rent bikes all along the path or just go for a nice walk up the trail. Along the path, you can stop at any of the historical facts points to learn more about the path and the culture. During December thru March, you may even spot a whale or two. However, you won’t find any lifeguards or amenities other than bathrooms here.
Wanting to surf all of those big swells, be sure to stop at Kealia Beach. Right off the road, you can’t miss it. It has some awesome waves and attracts surfers and bodyboarders to the waters. You may even be able to stop by on your way for fresh coconut at one of the stands.
The Kapa’a Bike Path is also right behind it in case you’re an avid bike rider and looking to ride one of the best bike paths in Kauai. It ends at Donkey Beach and you can rent a bicycle from businesses on the path.
Explore Sleeping Giant Trails
To quench your adventurous side, you can head back into Sleeping Giant for additional trails and hikes. The Sleeping Giant Trail is made up of 3 different hiking trails that can be completed separately. The Kuamoo-Nounou Trail, West Trail, and East Trail all offer magnificent views. They range in distance from 2 miles to 1.9 miles and 1.75 miles. The Kuilau Ridge Trail is another popular hike in Kapa’a worth exploring.
If you plan on seeing Opeka Falls, I’d recommend the Kuamoo-Nounou Trail which starts a bit farther ahead of it. It’s the longest but you don’t need to climb the mountain. Other adventures include taking a trip up the Wailua River to see the Fern Grotto on a kayak or boat. Plan an excursion up to Secret Falls.
See The Waterfalls
The island is home to several waterfalls that can be accessed by hike or car. You can drive up to Opaeka’a Falls, they’re right off the road and visible from a nice parking area. Opaeka’s Falls features a stunning 151-foot waterfall. You can also hike over to Ho’opi’i Falls which offers a freshwater pool to swim in.
Looking for something rich in history, check out Holoholoku Heiau right at the beginning of Kuamoo Road, heading towards Opaeka’a Falls. There are also Wailua Falls which are found closer to Lihue. We featured it on our list of things to do in Lihue.
Attend A Luau
A must-do activity for anyone coming to Kauai is to attend a luau. The Luaua Kalamaku is a popular option in Lihue. My personal favorite is Smith’s but you will need to book in advance. The property itself sits on the Wailua River bank and is surrounded by floral beauty. A short tram ride through the property will allow you to explore the beauty it beholds, followed by an emu ceremony and then a very traditional array of food from the islands.
Don’t forget to try the Poi. Poi is made from taro root and is best when mixed with the Kailua pork. They offer an open bar with Mai Tai’s. The show follows the meal and will give you a lesson in hula and Polynesian history. If you are looking for a show that is a bit hotter check out the Fire Show offered at the Hilton Garden Inn.
You don’t need to stay there to attend and you can book tickets online. They not only offer an excellent meal as well with open Mai Tai’s, but their bread pudding will also leave you saying, “that broke da mouth!” If staying at the Hilton Garden Inn, you may be able to get a discount. The Sheraton also offers a luau which is beachfront, so either option will not disappoint.
Go for a once-in-a-lifetime tubing adventure with Backcountry Adventures. While this is not directly in Kapa’a town it is very close, and you may want to check it out. Lihue is on the same eastern side but just farther south.
Tubing is one of the most fun activities you can do on the island so it’s worth it. I advise that you book it in advance. If you have a go-pro, bring it on the tour. You go tubing thru old sugar cane canals, and the excursion is suitable for the whole family.
Shop Till You Drop
Kapa’a also offers shopping for everyone. Walk through the historic downtown and visit all the shops. You can get all your souvenirs in one swoop with gifts from blown glass to t-shirts. Don’t forget to pick up some local fruit from Lanas fruit stand. You are in Hawaii after all, so try it.
From mangoes, pineapples, lychee, and soursop you won’t have your tastebuds lacking in flavor. Take a stroll through Orchid Alley, they ship to the mainland. You can have a small piece of the island shipped right to your door!
If you stop in any of the ABC stores, save your receipts so you can get your free gifts at the end of your trip. If you’re lucky enough to be here on the first Saturday of the month, Kapa’a offers a unique festival that you don’t want to miss.
You can try some freshly made laulau or other local dishes. If you are willing to try spam, stop at Pono Market or the Musubi food truck. Check out the farmers market down at Coconut Grove and stop at JoJo’s for some shave ice. My favorite is da kine Jojo special. There is additional shopping there along with free hula shows once a week.
Grab Breakfast At Kountry Kitchen
My favorite breakfast spot is Kountry Kitchen. They open early so take a stroll, see the sunrise, and stop in for some loco moco. Loco Moco is a common dish with white rice on top of a hamburger patty and is completed with a fried egg and brown gravy. You can have cheese added among other items that make this traditional breakfast a must-have.
It’s not the only place for breakfast though. Java Kai offers a light breakfast while you get your day started with a coffee jolt all the while basking in the sun with ocean breezes at your feet.
If you want something a little quicker stop into Paradise Bakery on a Tuesday, Thursday, or Saturday for their fresh, hot malasadas and a cup of joe for the road. Get one of the malasadas traditional with cinnamon and sugar and one stuffed with their creme. I like matcha or lilikoi.
Try Lunch/Dinner Places
Kapa’a has its fair share of restaurants to eat at compared to the rest of Kauai. offers a fantastic assortment of restaurants for dinner or lunch. You can have everything from beachfront meals and food truck delights to Mexican food and pizza.
Hukilau Lani is one of my favorite places to eat. The service is wonderful and it is right on the beach. If you tell them you are celebrating a special occasion, they make every effort to make you feel special.
Bullshed is a fantastic steakhouse restaurant where you will feel like the waves are going to crash right in as you eat.
Mariachi’s is a fun Mexican place in the heart of Kapa’a with great Rita’s. If you are craving Chipotle, you won’t find them on the island, but Mariachi’s has you covered with their burrito bowl, add in a house rita and you have found that Kapa’a beach vibe.
Now everyone at some point on their vacation wants pizza. Kapa’a has some of the best. Diamond Pizza, while they don’t deliver, offers specials, and their garlic knots are something you will want to be sure to add to your order. Pick-up is simple and it’s a family-owned business that will allow you to support locally.
Timbers, while it is not in Kapa’a, is a short drive to Lihue’. The drive up to the restaurant is worth your time. You go through the most beautiful golf course as you wind your way up to the restaurant.
Where To Stay In Kapa’a
Depending on your budget Kauai can be as expensive as you want to make it. If you want to stay a bit more budget-friendly head to VRBO to book a 1 or 2-bedroom condo at Pono Kai. They will offer a full kitchen, and Kapa’a has several grocery stores close by.
You can choose between Safeway or Big Save. Big Save offers a lot of local fares, while Safeway has an excellent selection. Be sure to use their app to download their coupons. Pono Kai also has several grill stations that you can cook at. You are able to fish right off the beachfront so if you are feeling lucky try a little fishing and grilling.
For a more resort experience, the Hilton Garden Inn or Sheraton Kauai Coconut Beach Resort will provide that for you. Each has fantastic food venues and excellent shows. Both are located along the coast for easy beach access. Not to forget they each have swimming pools when the beach isn’t what you’re looking for, or you are seeking that quick dip before bed.
Car Rental In Kapa’a
Now let’s talk about car rentals. There is none other than locally owned Pineapple Express. They are a local family that came to Kauai with a dream of living here and started a car rental business.
They will pick you up at the airport, drive you to the local Walmart and deliver your vehicle to you. Very price compatible with those that you will wait in long lines for at the airport. They will also give you a pineapple and a nice gift bag with a cooler waiting in the vehicle. Plus, loan you beach chairs with an umbrella for all those hot beach days ahead.
You will want a car for Kauai. It’s the garden island after all and there are so many different views all over the island, apart from Kapa’a.
As your vacation ends make sure you take some time to relax and just smell the local air. As the Garden Island, we are not short of florals. There are so many to look at. From the hibiscus to the plumeria, orchids, lobster claws, and anthuriums, your senses will not be disappointed. If you get to smell the night-blooming jasmine consider yourself blessed.
Kauai has so much to offer and Kapa’a has the best ocean vibe on the island. Being on the east side, you are close to the airport, a short drive north, south, and the west are not far off either. Come experience all the Aloha that Kapa’a has to offer.
Me ka aloha pumehana
Written by: LeeAnn Reed