Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Hanapepe ~ Beyond the Beach and Back in Time

We aren't the lay-in-the-sun, bake-yourself-on-the-beach-people we were a few decades ago. So it isn't just the inviting beachscape, toasty sun and rolling waves alone that bring us to Hawaii each year. It is all the amazing places this island state has tucked away beyond its beaches that bring us back as well.

Just last week during a trip to Kauai's west side, we found ourselves doing a bit of time travel. . .

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Hanapepe Swing Bridge - Kauai

. . .during a visit to Hanapepe (ha-na-pay-pay), a little spot that proudly calls itself Kauai's 'biggest little town'. It may be small, but it is one of our favorite destinations on this island.

Walking across the town's swing bridge that connects the old Main Street to the fertile valley on the other side of the Hanapepe River, we couldn't help but think of a time - long before Captain Cook visited in 1778 - when ancient Hawaiians populated the area. The main staple grown in the area was 'kalo' or taro as it is commonly called today. The area's earliest commerce was the trading of salt from the Hanapepe ponds. The 1880's brought sugar cane cultivation and that drew Chinese, Japanese, Filipino and Portuguese immigrants to work in the fledgling industry.

These days the old foot bridge - once a transportation link between the fields and the town - is a source of entertainment for tourists who want to test their courage in walking across the creaking, swaying structure. Visitors who make it across the bridge are asked to turn around and not disturb the residents who make their home on the other side of the river. (The original bridge was destroyed during Hurricane Iniki's rampage over the island back in 1992 and was rebuilt and strengthened as part of the storm recovery efforts.)

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Hanapepe - Kauai's biggest little town or so they say!
Hanapepe, 18 miles (29 kilometers) from Lihue (where the island's major airport is located), was a bustling economic center from the early 1900's through World War II. Bars and shops lined its streets. Two movie theatres and three skating rinks were in operation. You can't see the ocean from its historic Main Street, but it isn't far away.

By recent accounts, there are more than 40 buildings and structures along the old Main Street that qualify for state and national historic status, but no one in this laid-back part of the island has gotten around to doing any of the required paperwork to get them recognized.

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One of the old theatres in Hanapepe

That doesn't mean the town doesn't take pride in its history!  A stroll from one end of the street to the other provides a fascinating glimpse into the 'way it was'  thanks to the photographs from yesteryear, each displayed with a paragraph or two telling the story of how it used to be. Hawaiian 'talk story' at its finest.

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History proudly displayed in Hanapepe

Today many of the old wooden structures house tourist shops and art galleries. An old service station is now a convenience store. A former  bar is  home to a bakery. Each shop and the building it is housed in has an interesting story behind it. All are worth a visit, but the one that brought us back to this quaint little spot we'd discovered two years ago, was Talk Story Bookstore; 'the westernmost independent bookstore in the United States'. We simply had to see the store's cat again and to purchase some books.

Owners Ed and Cynthia Justus opened the store 12 years ago with no business plan in mind, he told us.  They were simply moving their ebay business to a storefront. Today they have 100,000 books from which to choose, new, used, collectibles and rare and receive 3,000 new books a month. (To give you an idea of the variety of books in this small, unassuming-looking store, I purchased a book called "Savushun" a novel about modern Iran. It was the first novel ever published in that country by an Iranian woman).

And yes, the cat came to greet us just as it had during our first visit here two years ago.


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Talk Story Bookstore

We also returned to the fragrant shop - just down the street in another old wood frame structure - of the Aloha Spice Company. We couldn't resist buying couple of packages of Anahola Granola. The company was started by Becky, a single mom, who lived in Kauai's Anahola.  She was born and raised in Orcas Island and Seattle, Washington. The early '80's found her living in Kauai and a few years later she began selling her homemade granola in at a farmers market. Today several varieties are commercially packages and sold including the "Tropical" mix which combines macadamia nuts, sun-ripened papaya, pineapple, sweet coconut, whole grain oats, nutritious seeds and Hawaiian honey. Who could resist that wholesome combination, right?

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A mouth-watering and fragrant stop in Hanapepe, Kauai

Across the street, as we'd peered through the screen door of the Midnight Bear Bakery, the driver of a delivery truck parked nearby called out to us, "That is the best bakery on the island. I make it a point to stop here every time I come to this side of the island." With that kind of recommendation who wouldn't go inside?  It was soon decision time: Meyers Lemon Danish or Macademia Nut Cinammon Rolls? The just-out-of-the-oven cinnamon rolls won out, but next time, we'll throw calorie-counting to the wind and try the Danish as well!

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Scene from Old Main Street Hanapepe

Another thing we'll make it a point to do next time is to return for their Friday Night Art Walk which takes place every week from 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. It is the biggest event in the island's biggest little town!

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Bridge over the Hanapepe River - Kauai

That's it for this week. Time to go enjoy a bit of that tropical sunshine. We'll be back next week and until then our wishes for safe and happy travels!
Aloha~

Linking this week with:
Through My Lens
Our World Tuesday
Wordless Wednesday
Travel Photo Thursday
Photo Friday
Travel Inspiration

20 comments:

  1. We were in Kauai years ago, but somehow, missed Hanapepe. Boy, am I sorry we did! Thanks for the tour, and enjoy your stay!

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    1. Thanks much Amy! If you get back, you have got to visit that bakery and bookstore!

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  2. That looks like a very nice place to visit and walk around

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    1. It really was a great outing - relaxing and we pretty much had the town to ourselves. Thanks for commenting!

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  3. How fun to return to a favorite place and find that it's just as great the second time around. Hanapepe looks friendly and quaint and just the perfect place to take a stroll down Main Street. And my mouth was watering thinking of those cinnamon rolls - mmm!

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    1. Oh those rolls were so sinful; just think a blend of butter and sugar melting on your tongue and then add a dash of cinnamon and macademia nuts!

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  4. This sounds like my kind of Hawaiian town.

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    1. It reminds me of some of my favorite small towns in Arizona - you would love it!

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  5. what beautiful country. so glad you are enjoying it. next time, you order one dessert and like Joel order the other..then split them..:) xoxo

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    1. Sounds like a good idea to me. . .or just buy more and eat more! ;) xxx

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  6. Jackie, so enjoyed your wonderful and informative tour of Hanapepe and all its interesting haunts, from the bookstore to the bakery, and everything else, sounds like you and Joel are having a whirlwind of a time!

    Wishing you a great week ahead,
    Poppy

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    1. Oh Poppy I am so excited to have you back in Crete and am so looking forward to your posts from there!!!! xxxx J.

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  7. I also love Hanapepe. I've never had the opportunity to walk across that bridge, so I enjoyed you're photo. Here's a few places I enjoyed some tasty food in Hanapepe, http://travelswithcarole.blogspot.com/search?q=Hanapepe

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    1. Dang! Wish I'd have had this before we went. I'll make sure to bookmark it for a future trip. Thanks Carole!

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  8. How awesome, it still looks the same since I last visited over 10 years ago, sleepy and wonderful. Like time hasn't changed in that town.

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    1. It was awesome and so very quiet and undisturbed. But oh my it looked like crazy fun on Friday nights!

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  9. What a great town! Cats, bookstores, and bakeries would keep me coming back for more. The Friday night art walk sounds fab. Thanks for linking up this week, Jackie. #TPThursday

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    1. All of my favorites, Nancie! I love linking up with this group! #TPThursday

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  10. I like independent bookstores, tropical granola and baked goods, so his would be the perfect way for me to spend my day. Forget about the beach.

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    1. That would be a travel trifecta! And yes, you would love it in Hanapepe!

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