Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Walking tour of Hanapepe Town and the Swinging Bridge

Hanapepe is filled with historic buildings, many of which have been restored and turned into art galleries and bookstores. However, if you are traveling with small children, shops and galleries will be of little interest to them. The following walking tour of Hanapepe was put together specifically to delight small children.

The first stop on the walking tour is the Hanapepe Swinging Bridge. If your kids love the swinging bridges on the playground, they will be really excited about the Hanapepe swinging bridge. This suspension bridge is the real deal, even better than Disneyland. In fact, you may even find your brave children suddenly need to be held as the bridge starts to rock and sway over the water. The bridge leads to a neighborhood on the other side of the river, so please be courteous to the residents that live there.

The next stop is the Children’s Peace Garden located behind the Storybook Theatre. According to the Storybook Theatre website, the garden was built to celebrate inspirational leader, Spark Matsunaga and his message of international harmony and inclusion. The garden is quite a sanctuary. Children will see a life-sized Bronze statue of senator Matsunaga nestled amongst both native and exotic plants. A koi pond hosts a variety of unique aquatic plants that attract dragonflies and other wildlife including toads and green anoles. The lizards and frogs tend to be the highlight for children.

Across the street just west of the Storybook Theatre is the Talk Story Bookstore. This store has an unbelievable selection of used books, children’s books and unique hard to find Hawaiiana Books. The draw for the kids is the cats that laze around in the store. Make sure to ask the very helpful owners which of the cats are friendly. Also check out the section devoted to local authors where you will find several children’s books by Kauai authors.

Your final stop should include Hanapepe Park. There’s nothing like a county park and playground to make the kids happy. Hanapepe Park is also a great stop to refresh toddlers and preschoolers that have gotten fussy from a long car ride. A huge monkey pod tree provides shade for moms and dads watching the kids play on the slides, swings and monkey bars. The park is also home to a flock of wild chickens. Children often enjoy feeding the chickens, and they nearly always love to chase them.

If you are coming from Lihue, you can pull off the main highway when you see sign that reads, “Hanapepe, Kauai’s Biggest Little Town”. Shortly after the road curves to the left you will see a beautifully restored green building known as Banana Patch Studios. There is a gravel parking area just past this. Start your walking tour here, by following the path to the swinging bridge.

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