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History tells us that in times past when canoes set out for Oahu, they would always stop in Kapaa to get their bearings and then head directly across the channel to their destination. Hence, it’s name. Kapaa means “fixed” or crystallized,” as in fixed course.

The vibe here is a touch more local. There are no real sights, as such, but there are shops, a mall, resorts and condos, restaurants and a nightlife. The color-mottled mountains of the interior are worth checking out, and combing the beaches is also worthwhile.

Central Kapaa’s beaches begin at Waipouli Beach Park. It is between the Market Place Shopping Center and the royal coconut grove by the Sheraton Hotel. The beach ends at the Waikaea Canal.

On the other side of the canal is Kapaa Beach Park, which goes on for nearly a mile until it runs into the Kapaa Library. At just over 15 acres, the park consists of a pavilion, picnic tables, showers, toilets and grills. While the beach is attractive, unfortunately, this part of
town is rather run down. The feeling is that it belongs to the locals.

Further on, across the Kapaa Stream is the one store village of Kealia and Kealia Beach. This wide, white strand is not a beach park, so there are no facilities, but the swimming is good in calm weather, and except for local fishermen and surfers, few people are ever here.

A tall stand of ironwoods marks a surfing beach the locals call Donkey Beach. A footpath leads down to a wide, sandy beach. If you’re looking for a secluded spot, this is it. It’s good for unofficial camping, but be careful. The undertow is severe, particularly in rough weather. Only experienced surfers should challenge the waves here. It’s okay to sunbathe and take shallow dips, but stay close to shore. Kapaa can be considered “everyday paradise.” Visitors are made to feel welcome and then stand in line with everyone else at the supermarket. It isn’t the choicest place on Kaua’i to vacation, but you can have a
great time and save money.