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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.