18. Lihue, HI
Most people collect their welcome leis at the airport or cruise ship dock in Lihue and move on. But between the beaches and the waves, the frangipani and shave ices, the island’s cultural center keeps calling. Easy to reach from almost anywhere on diminutive Kauai (just 553 square miles in area), Lihue has been a place of congregation ever since—as legend has it—proto-Hawaiians built a lava rock dam near the mouth of the Huleia River, now a historic site known as Alekoko Fishpond. The whole story of the island from volcanology to surfing is told at the Kauai Museum; Kilohana and Grove Farm Homestead, two of the island’s big sugar plantations, vividly recapture scenes from the colonial era; and for the ear, the Kauai Concert Association brings jazz, classical music and dance to the Kauai Community College Performing Arts Center.
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