© Faina Gurevich / Shutterstock


Kapaʻa is the only walkable town on the Eastside, and it has its charms. Although it's not Kauaʻi at its most beautiful, sunny Kapaʻa has a more down-to-earth disposition than other tourist towns, and its eclectic population of old-timers, fresh transplants, new-age hippies and budget travelers coexists happily. A paved recreational path for cyclists and pedestrians runs along the part-sandy, part-rocky coast, the island's best vantage point for sunrises. Kapaʻa’s downfall? It sits right along the highway – try walking across the road during rush hour!

The Airspace Issue?

For many, getting a bird’s-eye view of the verdant majesty of the Garden Island is a once in a lifetime opportunity. As well, the chance to take a breath from above and witness the island at its finest is worth the discomfort (or thrill) of a soaring chopper and the money the journey requires. But for many on the ground it’s an audible thorn in their side.

The Sierra Club and other island advocacy groups have long pushed for limits on the freedom of commercial aircraft to fly over residential neighborhoods and FAA-designated noise-abatement areas. But for now it’s a voluntary system. Thus the Sierra Club recommends that passengers ask pilots to avoid sensitive areas, such as the Kalalau Trail, Na Pali Coast valleys and popular beaches. Whether these recommendations are successful remains to be seen, as it’s like asking somebody who ordered a banana split to forgo the ice cream and chocolate sauce.

To stop what they call ‘disrespectful air tourism,’ a group called StopDAT (www.stopdat.org) is seeking to pinpoint the best and worst tour companies. As is often the case, one person’s pleasure is another person’s pain.

Amid all the joy and conflict these tours can bring out is the fact that though locals have their gripes about noise pollution and dangers, most of the tour companies are owned by other locals and landing rights (which turn a profit) are leased by some deeply rooted multigenerational Kauaʻi families.

Explore Kapaʻa

Top attractions

These are our favorite local haunts, touristy spots, and hidden gems throughout Kapaʻa.


Learn more about Kapaʻa

Uncover the heart of travel and be inspired to see new sights with one of Lonely Planet’s in-depth, award-winning guidebooks.