Royal Coconut Coast

Everything you need to know about visiting Kauai's central coast.

The Garden Island’s Coconut Coast is indeed studded with swaying palms, but it encompasses so much more, from Kauai’s modern population centers of Lihu‘e and Kapa‘a to ancient temples and historic sites along the broad Wailua River. Shopping centers and commercial strips line the busy highway, where it’s easy to get caught in rush-hour traffic, but quiet beaches and tranquil hiking paths lie not too far away on either side.

A kaleidoscope of dining awaits, too, with clusters of food trucks vying with mom-and-pop diners and upscale purveyors of island favorites—including poke, sushi, fish tacos, locally raised beef and other farm-to-table fare. Families and budget travelers will find many lodging options in the cluster of condos, renovated motels and handful of full-service hotels. And though getting around by car can be slow at rush hour, renting a beach cruiser to ride the Ke Ala Hele Makalae coastal bike and walking path is a fun way to explore the beaches and historic coastal sites from Wailua to Kapa‘a.

You’ll need to drive to see two of the region’s stunning waterfalls — Wailua Falls (seen in the opening credits of “Fantasy Island”) and ‘Opaeka‘a Falls — but they’re right off the road. To revel in Uluwehi Falls (also known as Secret Falls), you have to kayak to the start of an often-muddy hiking trail, but the views of green mountain ridges along the way are inspiring. You can also kayak to the Wailua River’s famed Fern Grotto, or enjoy the pleasant open-air boat ride with live Hawaiian music.

History: In 1896, a German immigrant planted the vast coconut grove on what later became the grounds of the Coco Palms hotel. Closed after 1992’s Hurricane ‘Iniki and now in ruins, the hotel lives on in Elvis Presley’s 1961 film “Blue Hawaii.” The last queen of Hawai‘i, Deborah Kapule, also welcomed travelers when she lived on the leafy site with a lagoon from the 1820s to 1840s.

Kauai's Annual Events

JANUARY: Want to start your year with some golf? The Sony Open, the largest charity golf event in Hawaii, is a hole in one. 

MARCH: If you’re looking for a day full of parades, crafts, and educational exhibitions, make sure to stop by The Honolulu Festival supporting the Koa Tree Planting Project. 

APRIL: You won’t see anything like the Waikiki SPAM Jam Festival, on the mainland! The street festival celebrates Hawaii’s unusually large consumption of SPAM with a variety of booths and restaurants. The celebration also includes free entertainment and all of the proceeds benefit the Hawaiian Foodbank. 

MAY: May 1st is Lei Day in Hawaii. The annual Lei Day Celebration at Kapiolani Park features lei exhibits, the annual Lei Court, foods, crafts, and entertainment. You won’t want to miss the biggest celebration held in front of the Outrigger Beach Resort. 

JUNE: While the tranquil ocean water may be calling your name, don’t forget to dive into traditional Hawaiian culture too. The three-day Pan-Pacific Festival (full of arts, crafts, foods, and performances) is a great place to start. 

JULY: Want to watch authentic Hawaiian Hula? Be sure to make a stop at the annual Prince Lot Hula Festival featuring performances from a variety of hula groups. The annual Ukulele Festival at Kapiolani Park Bandstand, a Waikiki summer tradition, is the largest ukulele festival in the world. The free concert features guest artists and an orchestra of over 800 students. 

AUGUST: The annual Duke’s Oceanfest honors the legacy of Duke Kahanamoku’s life through a variety of lifestyle sports activities including surfing, paddleboard racing, swimming, beach volleyball, tandem surfing, and more. Duke spread his love of surfing by teaching the sport to others around the world. Duke’s Oceanfest, a non-profit organization, provides resources to other organizations with hopes to enrich the lives of Hawaiian youth.

SEPTEMBER: The Annual Waikīkī Ho‘olaule‘a beachfront street festival, hosted by Aloha Festivals, showcases Hawaiian culture through endless cuisine and craft booths. The festival also features music and other forms of entertainment on four stages. The festival ends with the Annual Floral Parade which ceremoniously debuts all aspects of Hawaiian culture in a colorful march throughout Waikiki. 

NOVEMBER: The Waikiki Holiday Parade commemorates the Pearl Harbor Attacks honoring all the military heroes and survivors. 

DECEMBER: Eager to make your visit a little more active? Participate in the annual Honolulu Marathon. There’s no better place to run than paradise!

*Things change, so please check in with the organizers of these events to make sure they are still happening.

You so deserve a vacation. 

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