visitor takes in island-style artwork in a Hanapepe
gallery during a weekly Art Night in Hanapepe,
walks are something you can find in many towns these days,
but the little Hawaiian town of Hanapepe on the island of
Kauai adds its own onomatopoeic "peppiness" to
what you might find elsewhere. The art walk is happily
island-style, and it happens every week.
the high-energy Hawaiian guitar jammers lit by tiki
torches in front of Bobbie’s barbecue joint. Or the
electric-ukulele player on the wooden boardwalk of Kauai
Fine Arts. Or even the anticipation of watching the
malasadas crisp up in the vat of bubbling oil at Brandon
Nagamine’s stand at the top of the street.
don’t get any fresher," Nagamine says as he shovels
a bag full of the hot, sugar-dusted Portuguese-style
pastries, six for $5.
Friday from 6 to 9 p.m. is Art Night in Hanapepe, which
calls itself "Kauai’s Biggest Little Town."
means "crushed bay," perhaps derived from the
landslides in the valley or the appearance of the cliffs
from the sea. Hawaiian natives inhabited the fertile
valley for centuries before Captain Cook arrived in 1778.
In addition to growing bananas, sugar cane and sweet
potatoes, they have a tradition of harvesting salt from
shore ponds, which are still seen on the way to the
nearest swimming beach.
you drive into town, 20 minutes west of Poipu on Kauai’s
south shore, the old false-front shops look more like
Tombstone or Dodge City than a tiny burg in the middle of
the Pacific. Locals say that’s because the Asian
immigrants who built the town around the start of the 20th
century came from the same pool of skilled carpenters and
architects imported to build the American West.
boomed during World War II with U.S. soldiers stationed
nearby. Now, the rustic storefronts are home to galleries,
boutiques and a restaurant or two worth the trip from
wherever you’re staying on the island.
just kind of a quirky, funky little town," says Ethan
Page, whose Little Fish Coffee caters to caffeine cravings
along the one-horse main drag.
can’t go far wrong kicking off your Art Night with an
early dinner at Hanapepe Cafe, a long-popular fine-dining
spot that upset the Kauai foodie world when it closed a
few years ago because of the owner’s health problems. It
reopened in 2014.
got my heart fixed and we’re back open on Friday nights
only," chef Helen Lacono says with a smile as she
explains the night’s specials in the cafe’s simple
room with pastel-green walls, whirling overhead fans and a
horseshoe-shaped bar in black and white tiles.
indulge in a house specialty, a bomba: purple sweet
potato, a Hawaiian staple, lightly fried in a patty with
cilantro, shrimp and chunks of mahi mahi, served with a
fire-roasted red pepper sauce ($15).
you can’t get a table, you can still sample some of the
best of chef Helen’s kitchen on Art Nights when she
offers gourmet soups — such as a savory
pumpkin-and-Asian-pear bisque — from tureens out front.
local had wisely advised me to save room for pie from The
Right Slice (rightslice.com), another Art Night regular.
Crowds line up at the sidewalk stand for wedges of baked
tastiness in island flavors such as Mango Passionfruit
(the top seller), Blueberry Pina Colada and Sweet Cherry
with Macadamia Coconut Crumbs ($5.25 a slice).
of artists put out the welcome mat on Art Night. I visit
with Dawn Mi Traina at her tiny gallery from which she
sells giclee prints of her oil paintings of indigenous
Hawaiians, such as a young man blowing a conch shell (the
title is "Ho`okani ia ka La Welo," or
"Announcing the Setting of the Sun") and a young
woman doing the hula (titled "Hula Ho`omaika`i no ka
La," or "Hula of Thanks and Praise for the
Sun"). The paintings meld images from photos Traina
has taken of the subjects.
some I like the position of the arms, and others I might
like the look of the lei," she explains, proudly
noting that one of her portraits hangs in "Magnum P.I."
actor Tom Selleck’s office.
Kamaaina Cabinets, I stop to pat Corona, the shaggy
showroom dog, then shamelessly covet a gleaming, six-chair
dining table made from prized Hawaiian koa wood (selling
for about the same price it might cost to charter a plane
to fly it home).
have a piece of koa big enough for a table to seat 14, but
I’m waiting for the right time to build it," owner
Al Lopes confides.
the street, you can peer through gallery windows as local
artisans create ceramic tiles with bright, pineapple-y
island themes at Banana Patch Studio, housed in the
historic Chang Building (1926). It originally housed a
tailor shop and bakery, but for most of its history it was
the Hanapepe Pool Hall. A 2003 restoration earned honors
from the Historic Hawaii Foundation.
night sets in and fairy lights twinkle from porches, a
teenage girl plays lilting tunes on a violin on the front
stoop of Talk Story Bookstore, billed as "The
Western-Most Independent Bookstore of the United
States." A few doors down, in front of Aloha Spice
Co., a musician known as Westside Smitty ("Outlaw
Country Rockabilly Blues," boasts his business card)
delivers a smackdown version of "Poke Salad
Annie" like I haven’t heard in donkey’s years.
enough island peppiness for one night. With artful
inspiration, it’s time to take the bag of malasadas and
hunks of mango-passionfruit pie back to the B&B for a
late-night pig-out in paradise.
Art Night is 6 to 9 p.m. every Friday on the south shore
of the Hawaiian island of Kauai.
is 18 miles southwest from the city of Lihue (where the
airport is located) via Highway 50.
Helen Lacono’s Hanapepe Cafe, 3830 Hanapepe Road, is
open for Art Night every Friday, 5-9 p.m. (Yelp and
TripAdvisor entries incorrectly indicate that it is
permanently closed.) No reservations taken. 808-335-5011.
Island Restaurant, 3820 Hanapepe Road, 808-335-5152.