How do you say “Kapa’a”?

“Here it comes!” you say, pointing at the huge flat screen TV.

You and your daughter are cozy on your villa’s couch together, midway through the hilarious film Honeymoon in Vegas. Nicolas Cage’s character has just arrived on Kauai, and is trying desperately to find his wife played by Sarah Jessica Parker, who’s been ushered to the island by a charismatic millionaire played by James Caan. Cage is struggling to pronounce a local town’s name without success.

Deeply frustrated, he screams into a payphone, “Is it Kapa-a? Or Kapa-a-a??”

And even though you’ve seen this scene before, you are both laughing as your daughter grabs the remote to rewind so you can watch it again.

Getaway Girls

You and your daughter have been dreaming of a sojourn in Kauai together for years. So, this year for her sweet 16 you made it happen, and now you are both happily ensconced in your one-bedroom, ocean-view villa resort on Kauai’s sunny South Shore. You’ve spent your days swimming, beaching and yoga-ing at the resort, and enjoying the poke and pupus at the on site restaurant, the Holoholo Grill — but now you are ready for a little off-campus adventure. Since shopping and eating are some of your favorite shared past-times, you agree that the tiny town of Kapa’a is the destination for you — not to mention a way to pay homage to your favorite scene in Honeymoon in Vegas.

The next morning you wake up with the sunshine, and after a quick bite in your gourmet kitchen you hop into your fly-green rental Jeep and hit the road.

After enjoying an early breakfast at your Kauai luxury resort beach house, you begin your one week itinerary with a helicopter tour that overlooks the Hawaiian islands

Road Tripping

The 45-minute drive from Poipu Beach to Kapa’a along Highway 50, through the famous “Tunnel of Trees,” and eventually to Highway 56 is picturesque and easy. You blast Pink on the bluetooth, singing along the way together.

Won’t you come on and come on and raise your glass!

You pass emerald green field after field dotted with chickens, snow-white egrets and the occasional smattering of cows, then enter the Royal Coconut Coast with its huge swaths of palm trees, food trucks, and eclectic storefronts along the sparkling blue Pacific. Traffic is a non-issue and soon you see the small sign pointing the way to “Historic Kapa’a Town.”

Food, Fun and Frolic

Street parking is easy (and always free) on the main drag — aka the Kuhio Highway — and you immediately spy a row of colorful shops, a sidewalk fruit market and cafes.

“Shall we just stroll and see what we see?” you ask.

“Sounds perfect.” Your daughter already has her phone out taking photos of the palm-lined beach just beyond.

A Kauai vacation should consist of taking a boat tour, snorkeling with sea turtles, overlooking Waimea Canyon Lookout, hiking Haena State Park, visiting Kilauea Lighthouse and dipping your feet in Wailua River

Here are some of the favorite spots you encounter:

Java Kai: You love this bright turquoise coffee joint because it has an eclectic menu and their lattes pack a punch. You look through their rack of trucker hats, sweatshirts and other funky junk, and spring for a soft Java Kai logo T-shirt for your coffee-loving husband back home.

Kiko: Simple Goods: This rustic and warm space is a treasure trove of artful goodies. You linger over hand-made jewelry, artisan candles, unique home decor and art pieces, and plenty of what the owners call “this and thats.” You let your daughter pick out some locally made, hand-hammered gold earrings for birthday.

Shipwrecked: The buyer here has a great eye, because everything in this shop is hip and lovely. The prices are on the higher end but the clothing and accessories are upscale and well made. No cheap T-shirts emblazoned with neon Kauai chickens here.

Wailua Shave Ice: Once a beloved food truck, this relatively new store front next to a Starbucks is a Kapa’a must-go. Of the countless shave-ice spots on the island, this is one of the best, serving up flavors like ube, coconut, and dragon fruit — all made with the freshest ingredients exploding with tropical flavor. You opt for the Almond Joy crowned with a haupia foam and your daughter gets the Guava Goddess. Unforgettable.

Wahine Weenies Sandwich Shack: This little stand just off the sidewalk sports a sign that reads “A girl’s gotta eat!” — and you couldn’t agree more. Serving up freshly made ooey-gooey tuna melts, Rueben sandwiches, cheesy panini and all-beef hot dogs, Weenie’s menu is both sinful and fabulous — and perfect to take along as you stroll.

Sam’s Ocean View: Tucked away off the main drag is a beachfront restaurant that not only offers a stellar view of the Pacific, it has skillfully prepared and presented cuisine to back it up. You and your daughter share the ahi poke nachos to start and move on to the creamy-dreamy shrimp primavera served over pasta. You are both in food heaven.

North Kauai, East Kauai are now checked off of your Kauai itinerary. It's time to spend a relaxing afternoon by the South Coast with a Mai Tai.

Dinner-Time Toast

The Garden Isle is filled with memorable destinations but Kapa’a feels special and you are grateful you added it to your visiting-Kauai itinerary. Just before you start to devour your dessert of homemade churros nestled in Lappert’s caramel ice cream (because, vacation) you raise your glass to your daughter.

“To our adventure in Kapa’a!” you say.

Your daughter lifts her glass, giggling, then says, “Or is it Kapa’a’a’a?”



When you book a stay at Koloa Landing Resort, the rest of the island is just a short journey away. Our concierges are happy to help you plan to visit (and pronounce) any of Kauai’s lovely towns.

— Erica Karlin