Though Koloa was home to Hawai'i's first commercial sugarcane plantation, it's been decades since that sweet crop powered the tiny town's economic engines. Today, Koloa functions as the picturesque gateway to the popular Po'ipu Beach resort area. Still, its plantation roots remain firmly intact, as its charming old storefronts and sleepy pace attest.
Study the area by rambling along the 10-mile Koloa Heritage Trail, where interpretive signs give meaning to ancient Hawaiian cultural sites, historic buildings, and natural scenic wonders, such as Spouting Horn. 888-744-0888; tinyurl.com/koloatrail.
Get dirty as you navigate a four-wheeled all-terrain vehicle (ATV) through mud holes, movie sites, and beautiful landscapes on tours led by Kauai ATV. 3477-A Weliweli Road. 808-742-2734; kauaiatv.com.
Marvel at tropical fish, sea turtles, and other denizens of the deep while scuba diving or snorkeling with knowledgeable guides from Seasport Divers. 2827 Po'ipu Road. 808-742-9303; seasportdivers.com.
Small specialty shops line the main drag, including Progressive Expressions, a great place to purchase surfer-style clothes and boards. 5428 Koloa Road. 808-742-6041.
The ubiquitous T-shirt gets an upgrade at Pohaku T's, which sells original designs, many of which are sewn and silk-screened on-island. Soaps, jewelry, and other locally made crafts round out the merchandise. 3430 Po'ipu Road. 808-742-7500; pohaku.com.
For a bit of beauty, browse at Christian Riso Fine Art and Framing, where the artist sells his own original oils and prints alongside sculptures and paintings created by others. 5400 Koloa Road. 808-742-2555.
Koloa Fish Market sells fresh fish paired with wasabi sauce or caper butter in a plate lunch, raw as poke, or as steaks and fillets for home cooking. 5482 Koloa Road. 808-742-6199.
Join the often-long line at Sueoka Snack Shop for cheap grindz, including teriyaki chicken, kalua pork, and burgers of grass-fed beef. 5392 Koloa Road. 808-742-1112; sueokastore.com.
Brie French toast, eggs Florentine, house-made gnocchi and ravioli, and steak with gorgonzola polenta are tempting picks for breakfast, Sunday brunch, or dinner at cozy La Spezia Restaurant and Wine Bar. 5492 Koloa Road. 808-742-8824; laspeziakauai.com.