#Kauai: A Visit To Koloa

Part of Koloa Old Town’s original buildings, preserved and repurposed from plantation days.

Brett and I, along with the girls, headed down to the south shore last week to visit old Koloa Town and stop in at the Kukuiula Marketplace, an open-air shopping center in the resort area of Poipu. It was a lovely day, and along with some sightseeing we also took care of a couple of purchases we had been wanting to make.

Sueoka Market is the cornerstone of Koloa Town. It’s been open for nearly 100 years although it didn’t move to its present location until 1933. It is still operated by the Sueoka family. There’s a snack stand in back on the right that serves ono (delicious) local-style plate lunches and hamburgers.

Our first stop was old Koloa town. It’s primarily a tourist stop now, filled with shops and restaurants, but the businesses are located in many of the original old plantation buildings, and the small town still gives a sense of what it was like back when the Koloa mill was the center of sugar production on the island. The mill was established in 1835, and was the first successful sugarcane plantation in Hawai’i. The sugar mill and resulting “sugar era” started the wave of immigrants to Hawai’i that continue to make up the state’s diverse and multicultural population, and the names of the old buildings still tell the names of their original owners, and their original purpose.

The Tree Tunnel

Koloa town is also noted for it’s many big, beautiful old trees, beginning with the “tree tunnel” of eucalyptus trees, planted more than 100 years ago – it’s been called “the gateway to Koloa.” As many times as I’ve passed through it, the sight and experience of driving through the tunnel still takes my breath away. Koloa is also home to a giant banyon tree, the biggest ficus I’ve ever seen, and many other impressive and shady trees that always make the town feel cool.

This giant ficus tree is located across the street from old town, on the bank of the Waikomo Stream.

One of the many beautiful, old, big shady trees located throughout Koloa Town

Kauai Nut Roasters is located in what was a hotel back in the plantation days of Koloa. Aloha Roastery is located in the same building, to the left.

The only must-buy for us in Koloa town was a couple of packages of nuts from Kauai Nut Roasters. Their product is amazing, and we wanted to support them after a near-loss of the business due to a former manager copying their recipes and then slandering the business (the theft is currently being litigated – the manager had signed a non-compete contract). The Koloa store is their only shop still open, down from four. We also stopped next door at Aloha Roastery to check it out while the girls were doing other things. The owners are two brothers, born and raised on the island, who had lived in Beijing for several years and operated a coffee shop there, but wanted to come back to Kaua’i. Our coffee/tea drinks were excellent, and we’re looking forward to going back.

Da Crack operates out of a window located in the middle of a small shopping center, but boy do they turn out some fantastic food!

Brett & my burrito, with shredded smoked chicken, black beans, shredded cabbage and pico de gallo. Tasty!

From Old Town we headed down the road to the resort area of Poipu, stopping for burritos at Da Crack, a small shop located in a small shopping center right before the Poipu traffic circle. We had been hearing good things about Da Crack for a while, and about how delicious the burritos, bowls and tacos were, and they did not disappoint. We were lucky to arrive just before the main lunch rush, because the line behind us was enormous by the time we got our burritos, and still long over an hour later when we passed by on our way back home. Service though was quick and friendly. There are a variety of ingredients on the menu that you can mix and match to customize your order. Brett and I shared a chicken burrito with black beans, shredded cabbage and pico de gallo (no rice!) – it was amazing! Prices range from $8.95 for the chicken burrito, bowl or tacos to $11.95 for ones with either fish or shrimp (there’s a kid’s menu too, with smaller portions). We will definitely be returning here!

Kukuiula Marketplace

There are stunning hibiscus located all through the Marketplace.

After lunch it was on to the Kukuiula Marketplace, a sort of high-end, open-air shopping center that caters to Poipu visitors. Shops include Reyn Spooner, Tommy Bahama, Quicksilver, Blue Ginger and Mālie Organics as wells as several other gift shops, jewelry stores and art galleries. There are also several restaurants, from Bubba’s Burgers to Roy Yamaguchi’s new restaurant, and lots of choices in between, as well as a big Long’s drugstore, and a gourmet grocery store which sells great pasteries and coffee, if you’re so inclined. Kukuiula also hosts one of the best farmers’ markets on the island every Wednesday afternoon.

It is truly difficult to choose a flavor at Lappert’s Ice Cream. Thankfully, they’ll let you sample them all!

We poked around in the shops for a while (I bought a top at Blue Ginger) and then we all got back together for ice cream at Lappert’s. Lappert’s has been making ice cream on Kaua’i since 1983, and they’re famous for their wonderful island-themed flavors. Brett and I each enjoyed a kid’s scoop of Kauai Pie – Kona coffee ice cream with macadamia nuts, shredded and lightly toasted coconut, and rich chocolate fudge – and the girls each had two scoops of other flavors. Lappert’s also sells delicious coffee and pasteries, and makes gelato – they used to make the BEST gelato flavor I have ever had: smoked dark chocolate. It was weird but insanely delicious!

The geyser at Spouting Horn bellows whenever it shoots water up – according to legend it’s the moan of a giant lizard that was trapped in the rocks below.

Since we still had some time left before YaYu had to be at swim practice, we drove the short distance over to Spouting Horn, located just southwest of Kukuiula Marketplace. The drive there is beautiful, with stunning ocean views as well as opportunities to ogle several multi-million dollar ocean-front homes. We spent several happy minutes watching Spouting Horn do its thing, and also enjoying the gorgeous views to both the east and west before heading for home.

The view to the east from Spouting Horn . . .

. . . and to the west. It was a lovely day!

15 thoughts on “#Kauai: A Visit To Koloa

  1. weightlossfighter says:

    So lovely, Laura! Our first time to Kaua’i we stayed in Poipu, and I will never forget our exclamations of delight when we entered the tree tunnel. And I well remember Lappert’s Ice Cream – pricey but worth it! We just discovered they sell it at one of the cafes at the harbor here in Dana Point, and come warmer days we look forward to indulging. Smoked dark chocolate sounds amazing; I will definitely be on the watch!

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    • Laura says:

      We stayed in Poipu for nearly three weeks when we came in 2014 – it was a great place for the girls to be during the day while Brett and I worked on all the “paperwork” and getting our house set up. Plus, we got to drive through that beautiful tree tunnel every day as we were coming and going. The area is beautiful, but too “touristy” for me these days, and it takes longer to get there and back as well because of the increasing traffic, but I still enjoy it whenever we do go (and we’ll be going a couple of times again because there are some restaurants there we want to eat at before we leave on our adventure).

      I asked about the smoked dark chocolate flavor when we were at Lappert’s, and one worker said she didn’t think they were making it any more. But I have high hopes that it will show up once more before we leave. It was an amazing flavor – so different.

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    • Laura says:

      It is a beautiful part of the island, that’s for sure. I told Brett that if I won the lottery I would seriously consider buying one of those oceanfront homes – the views are spectacular. There are too many tourists there year-round (and especially during the summer and in December) for us to want to live there though. But it’s a fun place to visit once in a while. We’ll we going back to Koloa again in a few months to get more of those nuts – we’re going to include a small pack along with some other Kaua’i products in each of the small gift packages for our AirBnb hosts.

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    • Laura says:

      Besides that smoked dark chocolate gelato (which may be no more 😦 ), Kaua’i Pie is my favorite. Some of their other flavors were pretty tempting as well though. Thankfully a kid’s cup was more than enough to satisfy my craving.

      Driving through the tree tunnel is almost an otherworldly experience – it still takes my breath away, every time.

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  2. Laurel says:

    Great memories, as we also stayed in Poipu on my first visit to Hawaii. And my brother and his wife spent their honeymoon at some little B&B near the Spouting Horn, so we had a preview in their pictures.

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    • Laura says:

      The south side of the island is gorgeous (and so is the north side), and either one is the place to be if you’re visiting Kaua’i. We enjoyed our stay in Poipu when we arrived in 2014, and still love to go now and again for the restaurants. However, it can take anywhere between 45 minutes to an hour (or longer) to drive there from our house, depending on the traffic, so we don’t get down there all that often any more. We had a great time though the other day.

      We have visited Spouting Horn on days when it’s barely spitting – so disappointing. It was in fine form the other day, thank goodness!

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    • Laura says:

      Thanks, Marji – there are so many beautiful and special places here, with so much history. I love sharing them, but I’m also documenting them for myself!

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    • Laura says:

      LOL – there are no basements in Hawaii. Really, there’s no place to shelter here, and no way to escape. In my opinion, the only good thing about the warnings is that they (hopefully) give you enough time to say good-bye to your loved ones. Except this morning only WenYu and I were home – Brett was stuck in traffic with YaYu on their way to her swim meet, so no good-byes or last words for us if Kaua’i had been hit.

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