West Side

Journey to the west side of Kauai, where the only season is summer and the countryside’s slow pace is deliberate, allowing you to stop and appreciate the natural beauty around you.

Unlike the tropical, jungle interior of Kauai, the island’s west side is known for its desert- like landscape, historical towns, and rich, red dirt. Where much of Kauai’s color palette is 50 shades of green, the leeward side is draped in hues of orange and red. The communities of Hanapepe, Waimea, and Kekaha add their own unique flavor and richness to this island paradise.

Known as the “biggest little town,” Hanapepe was built primarily by immigrants, many of whom were retired sugar plantation workers. Now the town features more art galleries in its one-square mile area than any place on Kauai. Lazily stroll the galleries and shops for unique paintings, crafts, and jewelry. Experience Hanapepe’s Art Night every Friday, where food and music are also on the menu.

From the island’s “biggest little town” cruise north on the highway to a place whose literal translation is red water, Waimea. Initially developed as a port for whalers, it’s also known for its paniolo (Hawaiian cowboy) history and where Captain Cook first landed in Hawaii. Waimea’s rural and rustic charm sets it apart from other island destinations.

Travel ten miles north of Waimea town to be awe inspired by the Grand Canyon of the Pacific, Waimea Canyon. This natural wonder is ten miles long, one mile wide and 3,600 feet deep. There are several places to stop alongside the twisty road to gaze at the majestic terrain.

Drive down from the canyon with tiers of colorful rock to explore the last town on the highway, Kekaha. A settlement built around a former sugar plantation, Kekaha, (“the place” in Hawaiian) is known for beautiful sunsets and views of Ni’ihau, Hawaii’s forbidden island located across the Kaulakahi channel.

Just north of Kekaha marks the beginning of Polihale, the longest beach in Hawaii, comprised of a 17-mile stretch of golden sand and dunes upwards of 100 feet. Adding to its mystical aura, in legend, Polihale was where spirits of the dead congregated before entering Po, the realm of darkness.

Rich in history and sunshine, Kauai’s west side is a panorama of terracotta-colored cliffs, plantation-era buildings stained with red dirt, and the white-capped waves of the deep, blue Pacific.