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Kaua'i: The Westsider

By Amanda Kurth
Published: 11/22/21 Topics: Comments: 0

Photo credit: Amanda Kurth

Growing up, like most kids, you spend an awful lot of time planning the day you can get out of Dodge. And for some of us, you vow to never look back. You've got your reasons.

Then before you know it, you've planted roots in a place that's so reminiscent of home. It's a place that has the perfect fusion of cowboy country and aloha.

The west side of Kaua'i can be summarized as 'old Hawai'i' with ghost towns hidden by Jurassic Park-looking grasses at every corner.

It is home to a good chunk of the island's 73,000 permanent residents. And let's not forget the island's midnight to morning trumpets-truly voices of angels, the feral chicken.

But which came first? The hurricane or the chicken?

Travelers whose itineraries are jam-packed with excursions to Hanalei on the north shore and shopping from the gray, east side's Coconut Coast to the sunny south shore can finally unwind out west. You wake up every day to warm hues of rust and offset tropical greens against a sea of Windex water.

Situated just northwest of O'ahu- the oldest island in the Hawaiian chain, Kaua'i has been a destination for eco-travel a millennium before that became a popular buzzword. It has a heritage that's steeped in both myth and legend. Some even insist that it's in fact, its own kingdom. There are stories of a Spaniard by the name of Gaetan who mistook these shores for Mexico. They searched for the gold they'd only just heard about. Finding no such gifts of land and labor, they departed shortly after arrival in the 16th century, never to return.

Whatever the truth might be, Kaua'i remained a world unto itself. The arrival of Captain James Cook in 1778 changed that.

On that fateful third and final journey through the Pacific, he sailed two ships (Discovery, Resolution) into Waimea Bay, beginning the era that would forever alter the polytheistic and natural resources of the people.

Over fifty years after Hawai'i was forcibly adopted into U.S. territories in 1893, it was eventually granted statehood in 1959, even getting its own time zone. Hawaii is one of two states in the union (Arizona, Hawai'i) that don't subscribe to Daylight Savings.

Being a west-side person comes with its snares along the road. Quite seriously, there's only one main drag wrapping the perimeter of Kaua'i. Think about that! More than 75% of the island is untouched, pristine with fiercely jagged, green mountains.

Getting stuck in traffic here isn't all that bad. Most of the time, you're in and out without much thought. Where else can you listen to crickets or spot rainbows while palm trees turn to silhouettes on the side of the road?

This all sounds so poetic, like a Kerouac excursion across the mainland USA but it's the truth.

Shopping can be an inconvenient 45-minute drive east where affordable Costco Gas and the only fully-equipped home improvement store, Home Depot is located. Most folks out this distance are self-reliant in their own ways.

It's pretty common to get the look of "I don't know what you're talking about" when gushing over the new shopping developments or restaurants east to the north shore.

Westside does mean less traffic, which ultimately means less shopping and attractions. Yet the people still manage to brew beer out here. Of which the coldest draughts are not poured at Kaua'i Island Brewing. But 20 minutes further west at 'Da Pizza Place inside Chicken In A Barrel at the Waimea Plantation Cottages.

After you've continued on past Waimea Canyon Drive, just follow the scent of smoky barbecue, and you're there.

From the downhill descent into Ele'Ele to the flood plains past Kekaha, there are more young families whose children can play in the streets. Freely, without a brand new 2003 lifted Toyota Tacoma running them over.

It's a safe and deeply connected community. It's a place where the ever-elusive Mark Zuckerberg can be seen in his natural environment, surfing on a hydrofoil while holding the American flag.

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Author: Amanda Kurth
Blog #: 0837 – 11/22/21

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