The East side of Kauai is often referred to as the Royal Coconut Coast. Appropriately named considering the royal history and the abundance of ancient coconut groves from Wailua to Kapaa. Back in the 1300s this area was called Kawaihau (the ice water), and it was the location of choice for Hawaii’s royalty. Kawaihau is mainly divided into four areas: Wailua, Kapaa, Waipouli and Kealia.
The kings chose Wailua to be the Capital of Kauai. High chiefs believed that the area around the mouth of the Wailua River was sacred and called it Wailua Nui Hoano or Great Sacred Wailua. This sacred area extended two miles up the Wailua River. Seven heiau (shrine) were built in an arc from the shores of Wailua up Mount Waialeale ending on the Westside of Kauai. Royalty would come to Wailua from the neighboring islands to give birth at the birthstones of Holoholoku. When a king was born a kahuna (priest) would take the child up the mountain to a bell stone. He would strike the bell stone with a rock sounding the birth of a new king. No commoner was allowed in this area unless they were servicing a chief. You can view the birthstones and five different heiau at the Wailua River State Park. Please remember that this is a special place of worship and needs to be treated with respect. Do not leave offerings or move any rocks. Below the Wailua River State Park is Lydgate Beach. Two rock-lined seawater pools make it a haven for year round swimming. Above Wailua Park is Wailua homesteads. Here you will find many hiking trails and freshwater swimming holes.
Waipouli (dark water) is a little town between Wailua and Kapaa. Before all of the commercial development, Hawaiian royalty used this area to set sail to other locations in the Pacific. Due to the sudden popularity of fractional ownership, Waipouli is now a mile long strip of shops and modern conveniences.
Old Kapaa Town is the remnant of an old plantation town. Most of the buildings have been renovated and filled with boutiques, bars and restaurants making Kapaa a hip little hot spot. Although, there are many beach parks in the area, be very careful about swimming here. The east shore is best known for fishing and the rocky shoreline can be very dangerous during high tide. As the locals say, “Never turn your back to the ocean.”
If you’re driving north from Kapaa town, you will come across a large crescent shaped, golden sand beach called Kealia. The Kapaa Stream flows across the south end of the beach. You may see kayakers paddling in the stream or people rinsing off after a salty dip in the ocean. The area around the beach was once a 2,000-acre sugar plantation. Today, in an effort to preserve our agricultural past, Plantation Partners have converted the area into the largest agricultural subdivision on the island.
Today the Coconut Coast is lined with newly renovated resorts, spas, condominiums and residences. They provide a getaway for travelers from around the globe.
As featured in Kauai Traveler magazine