Kapaʻau isn't quite as bohemian and consciously crunchy as Hawi, and thus feels more authentically rustic and/or undeveloped and quiet, depending on your point of view. Either way, this is another former sugar town refashioned into an attractive tourist destination. You'll feel a lot of North Kohala regional pride, just as you did in Hawi, and in a similar vein to that town, there's an attractive degree of assimilation between transplants and locals.
Kapaʻau has an ever-expanding range of good eateries and serves as a meeting point for several outdoor adventure tours. It's more spread out than Hawi, but basically follows the same plan: Hwy 270 cuts through the heart of town, which radiates off either side of the road.