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Article Source: Copyright © 2012 by Fodor’s Travel, a division of Random House Inc. All rights reserved.
At the end of the road, high above Waimea Canyon, Kalalau Lookout marks the start of a 1-mi (one-way) hike to Puu o Kila Lookout. On a clear day at either spot, you can see a dreamy landscape of gaping valleys, sawtooth ridges, waterfalls, and turquoise seas, where whales can be seen spouting and breaching during the winter months. If clouds block the view, don't despair—they tend to blow through fast, giving you time to snap that photo of a lifetime. You may spot wild goats clambering on the sheer, rocky cliffs, and white tropic birds. If it's very clear to the northwest, look for the shining sands of Kalalau Beach, gleaming like golden threads against the deep blue of the Pacific.
This dramatic divide and fertile river valley once housed a thriving Hawaiian community of taro farmers, with some of the ancient fields still in cultivation today. From the lookout, you can take in the farms on the valley floor with the majestic mountains as a backdrop.
This 1½ mi self-guided walking tour takes you to 14 different plaques with historic photos and stories mounted on buildings throughout Hanapepe town. Businesses and shops in town sell a map of the tour for $2; however, you can often pick one up free with a coupon found in many guidebooks on promotional-brochure rack stands.
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 at Vicky's Fabric Shop, making it a must-stop for any seamstress. If you're seeking something that's truly one-of-a-kind, check out the selection of purses, aloha wear, and other quality hand-sewn items.