Hanapepe is an anomaly. It's slow, sleepy, and never seems to change. Yet it somehow avoids stagnation. Instead, it feels quietly alive, with brilliant bougainvillea blooming riotously at its entrance, an art scene transforming the plantation-era buildings on its main street, and the Hanapepe River flowing lazily through town.
Meander over the Hanapepe River via the creaky wooden planks and steel cables of the historic swinging bridge, which connects the valley's taro fields to town. 3857 Hanapepe Road.
Devote an evening to the sensory pleasures of Friday Art Night, a 20-year tradition of live music, food trucks, gallery open houses, and small-town congeniality from 6 to 9 p.m. weekly along Hanapepe Road. hanapepe.org/friday-art-night.
Take a dip or snorkel in the protected waters of sunset-facing Salt Pond Park, where endangered monk seals sometimes snooze on the coarse golden sand. 808-241-4460; kauai.gov/camping/salt-pond-park.
Amy-Lauren's Gallery features a refreshingly distinct collection of original oil paintings, encaustics, jewelry, and mixed-media pieces created by local artists. 4545 Kona Road. 808-634-8660; amylaurensgallery.com.
Browse more than 100,000 new, used, and rare titles, as well as vinyl records, comic books, and sheet music at Talk Story Bookstore, where resident cat Celeste, a.k.a. "The Boss," adds to the cozy charm. 3785 Hanapepe Road. 808-335-6469; talkstorybookstore.com.
Wake up your taste buds with an array of seasonings, rubs, and Hawaiian salt blends at Salty Wahine. 1-3529 Kaumuali'i Highway, Unit 2B. 808-378-4089; saltywahine.com.
For plate lunch, fried saimin, Korean chicken, and hefty bentos are among the choices best enjoyed as takeout at Bobbie's, since the dining area gets warm. 3820 Hanapepe Road. 808-335-5152.
For a leisurely sit-down meal, family-owned MCS Grill is a good pick, as are the pulled-pork nachos (dinner only) and Hawaiian "chili peppa" chicken. 1-3529 Kaumuali'i Highway. 808-431-4645; mcsgrill.com.
Standards such as fruit bowls, smoothies, and bagels get a creative upgrade at Little Fish Coffee, where it's pleasant to sip a cardamom latte at umbrella-shaded tables. 3900 Hanapepe Road. 808-335-5000; littlefishcoffee.com.