1996 Kaua’i: Kapa’a

    1996 Kaua’i: Kapa’a

    Kapa’a

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    1996 Kaua’i: Kapa’a

    It’s a short ten-minute drive to Kapa’a from Lihu’e airport. Conveniently located in the middle of the asphalt ribbon than mostly circumscribes the island, Kapa’a is a mix of fast-food restaurants, strip malls, beautiful beaches, and a few authentic restaurants hidden away. It’s easy to be put off by Kapa’a when faced with the mish-mash of stores, cars, and butt-ugly neon fast-food signs. Persevere. The historic (now ruined) Coconut Grove Plantation is still worth a visit.

    This trip I’m staying at the Kaua’i Sands, the only Hawai’ian-owned hotel on the island. (See , below.) I’ve got a ground floor “garden view” apartment with a view of the swimming pool, palm trees, and birds by the dozen. The sounds of the crashing waves are heard around the clock. The images below were taken on the beach of the Kaua’i Sands. The driftwood was blown ashore in a storm a few months earlier. (Actually, most of the beach is clear of driftwood; I’m afraid these images are a bit misleading.) The Kaua’i Sands is neither the most luxurious nor the least expensive lodging on the island, but it is clean, comfortable, and convenient.

    Spending mindfully: The native Hawai’ians have suffered the same fate from tourism as did (do) the Native Americans from colonizing Europeans: being forcibly driven from their lands and the extermination of their ages-old culture. Neither is worthy of pride. The least you can do as a tourist – regardless of where on Planet Earth you visit – is to spend your money mindfully. Research which businesses are owned by locals, and visit them. Presumably you wanted to experience other cuisines and cultures. If not, you could just have stayed at home, chilled some cheap beer, and watch The Dukes of Hazzard.

    The first thing I do in Kapa’a is stop at a bookstore that specializes in Hawai’iana. There I pick up the current copy of J.D. Bisignani’s Kauai Handbook¬† (published by Moon Publications) – it was all sold out in San Francisco. An earlier version of this book was invaluable during my last stay. (Happily, this time around there’s a lot of Hawai’iana for adults and children alike – native stories, casettes and CDs of songs, picture-books of the Hawai’i of old.)

    The first afternoon, after unpacking, and driven by traveller’s hunger, I strike out to an old standby, the Ono Family Restaurant in Kapa’a. Here’s where the first discordant note of the trip happens. The quality of the food has plummeted; replacing the where tasty and substantial beef and (Kaua’i-grown) buffalo burgers were mediocre versions. The Kona coffee was a watered-down blend, and the macadamia creme pie was a pie shell filled with chocolate pudding covered with whipped cream with some crushed nuts sprinkled atop. Terribly dissapointed, I head back to the hotel.

    Kapa’a has a long, skinny main drag, the center of which is reasonably pretty for a commercial village. The image at left is of a small caf√© in the midst of the SCUBA- and snorkeling-supply stores, tee-shirt vendors, objects de art imported from Indonesia, Bali, Java, and the rest of the southern Pacific.

    The center of town boasts an ABC Store (gasoline, sunscreen, bottled water, and other tourist necessities) and the “swap meet” – the best place to find unusual and usual items. It’s at the swap meet that I find three of the five “aloha shirts” that I buy on Kaua’i. I also buy a huge beach towel, something forgotten in the frenzy of packing.

    The Kaua’i Sands is located just south of the Coconut Marketplace, where you’ll find loads of shops, including a place to buy Lappert’s ice cream, artifacts from Java, and of course, hundreds of aloha shirts and the more recently popular Red Dirt shirts (made from the island’s colorful soil).

    Each day at 1700 a hula dance exhibition is given by the island children under the auspicies of the cultural societies. There’s always a huddled conference (above) before the show (below).

    After the show it’s time to walk over to Buzz’s Steak & Lobster, where the food was very satisfying and the service was beyond excellent.

    Sushi-Q is a great sushi bar in downtown Kapa’a. Tasty food, nice staff, convenient to everything.

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