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Article Source: Copyright © 2012 by Fodor’s Travel, a division of Random House Inc. All rights reserved.
Dramatic mountains and a patchwork of neat taro farms bisected by the wide Hanalei River make this one of Hawaii's loveliest sights. The fertile Hanalei Valley has been planted in taro since perhaps AD 700, save for a century-long foray into rice that ended in 1960. (The historic Haraguchi Rice Mill is all that remains of the era.) Many taro farmers lease land within the 900-acre Hanalei National Wildlife Refuge, helping to provide wetland habitat for four species of endangered Hawaiian water birds.
The Fern Grotto has a long history on Kauai. For some reason, visitors seem to like it. It's really nothing more than a yawning lava tube swathed in lush fishtail ferns 3 mi up the Wailua River. Though it was significantly damaged after Hurricane Iniki and again after heavy rains in 2006, the greenery has completely recovered. Smith's Motor Boat Services is the only way to legally see the grotto. You can access the entrance with a kayak, but if boats are there, you may not be allowed to land. COST: $20. OPEN: Daily departures 9:30--3:30.
Foodland is the focus of this small retail plaza, one of three shopping centers anchored by grocery stores in Kapaa. You can also find a McDonald's, Fun Factory video arcade, a clothing shop called Kaua'i Kraze, and The Coffee Bean, along with a local-style restaurant.
As Kekaha's retail hub and the last stop for supplies before heading up to Waimea Canyon, Waimea Canyon Plaza is a tiny, tidy complex of shops that is surprisingly busy. Look for local foods, souvenirs, and island-made gifts for all ages.
How about a fun beach towel for the folks back home? That's just one of the gifts you can find here, along with shell lei, Kauai shirts, macadamia nuts, and other souvenirs at low prices. The store also has many small, useful items such as envelopes, housewares, and toiletries.
At Two Frogs Hugging, you'll find lots of interesting housewares, accessories, knickknacks, and hand-carved collectibles, as well as baskets and furniture from Indonesia, the Philippines and China. www.twofrogshugging.com.
This small store is packed full of tropical and Hawaiian prints, silks, slinky rayons, soft cottons, and other fine fabrics. A variety of sewing patterns and notions are featured as well, making it a must-stop for any seamstress. Check out the one-of-a-kind selection of purses, aloha wear, and other quality hand-sewn items. www.vickysfabrics.com.
This is the South Shore's newest shopping center, with chic, high-end shops, exclusive galleries, restaurants, and cafés. Check out the Kauai Culinary Market on Wednesday from 4 to 6, to see cooking demonstrations, listen to live Hawaiian music, visit the beer and wine garden, and browse wares from local vendors. This attractive open-air, plantation-style center is just beyond the roundabout as you enter Poipu.
The big draws at this small center are a full-service grocery store and a hardware store, but there's also a wine market, a yoga studio, a sandal boutique, a small food court, and an ice cream shop. This is also the last stop for gas and banking on the North Shore. www.princevillecenter.com.
Convenient to nearby hotels and condos on the South Shore, the two-dozen shops at Poipu Shopping Village sell resort wear, gifts, souvenirs, and art. This complex also has great food choices, from hot dog stands to excellent restuarants. There are a few upscale and appealing jewelry stores and fun clothing stores. A Tahitian dance troupe performs in the open-air courtyard Monday and Wednesday at 5 pm. www.poipushoppingvillage.com.
Outrigger Lae nani