Oh, Waimea…

You know you’ve reached Waimea town on Kauai when the landscape goes from green to red. Red dirt and dry, arid conditions best characterize this historic west side town. Once it rains, you’ll begin to understand the literal translation of “Waimea,” meaning “red water.”

Waimea lives up to its name but also its history. As a seaport town in the late 1700s, it had also been where the first Europeans landed. A statue of Captain James Cook sits in the center of town, with a replica in England.

This piece of history gives rise to a popular town slogan: “Hawaii’s Original Visitor Destination.” Today, it is by no means as bustling as Oahu’s Waikiki or Maui’s Lahaina but definitely worth stopping by and checking out.

You’ll find small, local shops and businesses, such as the famous Aunty Lilikoi (homemade jams and marmalades). It is also a good place to get a bite to eat before the long drive to Waimea Canyon State Park or surrounding hiking trails. The local supermarkets sometimes have freshly-made bentos or deli sandwiches to go.

As a side note, there is also a town called Waimea on Oahu’s north shore. Both are completely different from each other but just as worthy of checking out.