Exploring one of the furthest west towns on Kauai is a real treat -- if you know what you are looking for!
Rich in history and local culture -- including Hawaiian, Paniolo, Portuguese, German, Japanese and Filipino -- Waimea is one of the most "local" places on the island of Kauai.
Waimea Bay was the historic location of white man's first visit to Kauai. In 1778, Captain James Cook anchored in Waimea Bay at the mouth of the Waimea River and "discovered" the "Sandwich Islands", later to be called Hawaii.
The ruling family of Kauai King Kaumuali'i and his large, extended family and court, lived and worshiped in Waimea -- one of the most populated areas of the island before the missionaries arrived.
Boasting a hospital, clinic, nursing home, fire and police station and home of the Waimea High School Red Raiders, Waimea is one of the few remaining places that exemplify "the old style Hawaii".
Gateway to Koke'e State Park and Waimea Canyon, Waimea town has an array of visitor amenities and services, too, and they feature an old-timey, country feel.
These include a comfy old art deco theater, a brew pub, two grocery stores, fast food ala Subway, a small resort property and a valley once inhabited by Meneheunes -- an industrious tribe of ancient ancestors who were overcome by later Polynesian immigrations. Be sure to check out the road leading up Waimea Valley where examples of their handiwork can be seen in the Meneheune Ditch.
To join an informative tour of Waimea Town go to the West Kauai Technology and Visitor's Center. Every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, volunteer guides greet visitors at the Center, where a permanent museum exhibit of Waimea's past is always on display, to conduct walking tours of the area.
Volunteer guides lead walking tours through the Waimea Plantation Cottages and the Waimea Sugar Company "camp" houses, which date from the turn of the century.
Tours take approximately 90 minutes and are limited to 12 people. Call for times: (808) 337-1005.
Be sure to wear comfortable shoes and bring sunscreen.
After the tour there are several great restaurants including Obsessions, the Waimea Brew Pub and Wranglers Steak House.
The Shrimp Station serves up delicious shrimp dishes. For an ideal souvenir visit Aunty Lilikoi, who cooks up her delicious jams and jellies on the street mauka of Capt. Cook's statue.
And, if you have never tried "Shave Ice" now is your chance. It is a Hawaiian delicacy!
Also, don't miss "Collectibles" a fun shop for trinkets and souvenirs.
Take a walk to the Waimea Pier to see what the locals are catching, then stop by the Russian Fort on the way out of town.