If you look past the strip malls and highway traffic, the Eastside fascinates. Its geography runs the gamut, from mountaintop forests to pounding surf and a majestic river. In ancient times, the Wailua River was sacred and Hawaiian royalty lived along its fertile banks. Kapaʻa’s historic town center echoes another bygone era of sugar plantations.
Kauaʻi’s population is concentrated here. Stretching from Wailua to Kapaʻa, the 'Coconut Coast' has a busy, workaday vibe, as opposed to the swankier resorts of Princeville and Poʻipu. Traffic can grind to a painful halt at any time of day, however. Further north and hidden away from the hubbub is down-home Anahola – a fishing and farming village where Hawaiians make up about half of all residents.