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You To Kapaa Visitor Information
Travel Information on KAPAA.
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Kapaa's History

To better understand the majesty that is Kapaa, it is important to embrace the history of its colorful terrain, legendary deities, and mythological intricacies. The sheer meaning of the word Kapaa (Kapa'a) is from the local Kauai dialect that literally translates to "solid" or "the closing." The etymology of the town's name pertains to the magnificent coconut laced coast of Kauai (Ka'Ohi'a, which means "the 'ohi'a lehua trees are tabooed"), aptly called the Kapaa Coastline, that gracefully depicts the cascading waters of the Pacific in the east.

Kapa'a is considered to be within the ancient district of Puna. Kawai Nui, slightly to the north of the town, was once known for its burly mud fish commonly called the 'o'opu ku'ia. It was believed that the Makalei tree, the legendary fish-luring brush brought to the land by the ancients of Pali'uli, called on to the 'o'opu fish, but since it ceased to exist, the fish seemed to disappear along with it. The peaceful Kawai Nui waters were also believed to be protected by Hauwahine, the mo'o goddess. The misty hills further north, also called the more pleasant Kapa'a, was the sacred land of its allegorical ruler, Olopana.

Through time, what used to be known as a mythical land slowly evolved into a plantation town. Today, Kapaa is not only a charming community by the sea; it is also quickly turning into a vacation hub. The crazy rush hour traffic and the steady influx of tourists all year round exhibit Kaapa's potential to be one of Hawaii's main tourist spots.

Kapaa's Attractions

Vacation in this part of Kauai is anything but boring. Kapaa is a splendid town with avenues and streets teeming with chic art galleries slash boutique, several full-dinner restaurants, and coffee shops. Mallrats and shopaholics would like the idea of strolling downtown Kapaa during comfortable windy afternoons, the perfect time to discover one-of-a-kind and reasonably priced knick-knacks stashed inside bazaars and open markets. One might just unearth a rare vintage find or a coveted collectible or painting.

While almost all arts and crafts boutiques and bazaars in Kapaa are worthy to be visited, tourists must stop by spacious Coconut Marketplace first. One would go gaga over the wide selection of merchandises sold in this incredible outdoor bazaar conveniently located in nearby Poipu and Princeville in Kapaa. It's a shopaholic's dream come true. Established in 1972, with succeeding expansions done in 1976 and 1978, Coconut Marketplace is the biggest of its kind in Kauai island. This three-phase bazaar has a distinct nostalgic feel since the fantastic plantation-style structures were patterned after the style popular during the olden times in Kauai.

Meanwhile, playful tots will have a blast exploring the Kauai Children's Discovery Museum. Who says fun and knowledge don't mix? In this museum, toddlers and kids at heart are bound to learn something new in the field of art, science, and culture in the most enjoyable way. The Kauai Center of Hawaii Arts and Culture, a resource center, offers tourists excellent chance to dig deeper into the alluring cultural background of the Aloha State.

After a filling serving of culture 101, tourists should take refuge in the scenic natural destination spots such as Makaleha Mountain and Opaekaa Falls, both are only a couple of miles from the town proper of Kapaa. Tourists must also give in to the seductive beauty of Kapaa Beach, a superb spot for surfing, which provides a magnificent glimpse of the sunrise.

Kapaa's Economy

Naturally gifted with arable lands and seas, Kapaa is a sanctuary to myriad species of flora and fauna. This accounts for the town's booming agricultural industries and healthy economy. The primary agricultural products of this town are coconut, tropical fruits like pineapple, and crops. Based on 2000 data, 2.3% of Kapaa residents make a living through these natural products (working in farms, fisheries, and forestry). Most of the residents (26%) have a job inclined to management. Kapaa's employment rate as of 2000 is 3.76% but analysts believe this will balloon to 16.60% in the coming years or decades. Income tax of the town is pegged at flat 10%, double the national rate across the United States.

But the economic situation in Kapaa isn't always as rosy as it seems. In 1992, the massive hurricane Iniki (English name: Enid) paralyzed the economy of towns in Kauai, including Kapaa. That unfortunate day of September 11, 1992 is a date Kauai residents will never forget; this is when Iniki, a category 4 intensity, directly hit the island. Majority of residential and commercial structures, approximately 3,000, were completely wiped out. Iniki left the town dumbfounded and grieving over a number of casualties and a billion dollar worth of damages. But after the bitter scars of storm were healed, Kapaa started all over again and managed to be in tiptop shape once again. Last year, there were 1.1 million tourists who flocked the Kauai island, and a significant portion of this visited Kapaa. This is good sign that Kapaa, including the neighboring towns, is over the painful past and now ready to gain their share of tourists, translating to a continuous flourishing economy.