Kauai is the westernmost Hawaiian island that you’ll be able to visit, and it’s Hawaii’s most verdant isle. In fact, it’s appropriately nicknamed “The Garden Isle” with its lush landscapes and navigable rivers.
You won’t find any semblance of a city on Kauai. The government has outlawed the construction of any building taller than a palm tree, the nightlife is relaxed and turns in early, and the entire island wakes up to the crowing of feral roosters. This is the isle for outdoor lovers and relaxation seekers.
But that’s not to say that Kauai doesn’t have its small pockets of urban areas, and Kapaa is one of the island’s largest towns. Centered on Kauai’s east-facing Coconut Coast, Kapaa Town is a fusion of native islanders, locals, tourists and temporary residents.
The Kuhio Highway slows down through Kapaa’s main drag where you’ll find incredible restaurants, a few bars, and the hidden Orchid Alley. But, just before you get into town on Kapaa’s southern edge near the banks of the Wailua River, you’ll pass by the Coconut Marketplace where you can experience free hula shows, free Hawaiian music, and a weekly farmer’s market.
Take the Kuhio Highway north out of Lihue. Once you pass over the Wailua River, keep your eyes on the coastal side of the road. In just a few short moments, you’ll see signs for the Coconut Marketplace, and there’s plenty of parking.
The marketplace sits on a large plot of land just by the sea, and it acts as a sort of outdoor shopping mall. There is a myriad of multicolored one-story buildings that house shops, galleries, restaurants, and a bar. The marketplace is a pleasant way to spend a few hours.
You’ll find local gems like Chicken in a Barrel, Sushi Bushido and Haole Girl Sweets inside the marketplace. And you can wash your treats down with a cold drink at BV’s Bar. Just make sure to grab some souvenirs from a locally owned store before you leave the marketplace.
Time your visit to the marketplace properly, and you’ll be able to enjoy a free hula show. The show starts in the heart of the marketplace at 5:00 pm on Wednesdays and 1:00 pm on Saturdays.
You can also catch free Hawaiian music on Fridays at 5:00 pm. Larry Rivera, a musical legend on the island of Kauai, sits down to play for your enjoyment as the weekend kicks off.
And here’s a local tip if you plan on attending the free music session on a Friday evening. Fridays are known as Aloha Fridays in Hawaii, and it’s customary to wear a Hawaiian shirt to usher in the weekend with friends.
If you are planning on visiting Kauai, then you must take advantage of The Garden Isle. Fruits and vegetables grow wild in the tropical humidity of the island, and Kauai’s farmer’s markets are second to none. These markets may serve up the best produce in the world.
The Coconut Marketplace hosts a farmers market on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm. Local growers descend on the market with truckloads of tropical treats, and there are a whole host of Hawaiian fruits you may have never seen before.
You can get your hands on rambutan, starfruit, mango, lychee, longan and more at the Coconut Marketplace on Tuesdays and Thursdays. And it’s easy to spot the best growers by looking for the crowds. Just make sure to get there early before all the good stuff is gone.