Dream of a Hawaii without the ostentatious luxury? Try the feel-good, earthy vibes of Kapaa, which is all about walks by the sea, mingling with locals, and great shopping.

Kapaa is a place where you take things slowly. Sure, that starts with the traffic jam it takes to get into the town, but once you’re here, you’re in for a treat. The multicultural array of residents blends in seamlessly with the diverse assortment of travelers, who stop here for laid-back beaches, a carefree atmosphere, and a charming old town.

That winningly diverse crowd dates back to Kapaa’s origins in Kauai’s sugar-trading days. What that means today, however, is that you’ll be mixing with indigenous Hawaiians, as well as Chinese, Portuguese, and Japanese Americans. Stroll around the shops in the old town and you’ll immediately get a feel for the colorful history of this place.

You may be suspicious of the term “unmissable,” but there are two aspects of Kapaa life that earn the adjective. One is the Royal Coconut Coast, a scenic stretch along the east coast of Kapaa. Rent a bike or head out on foot for those classic Hawaiian views of palm trees framing turquoise seas.

The other “unmissable” is the Saturday Art Walk. Join the whole community on a wander around the atmospheric Old Kapaa Town on the first Saturday of the month. Local businesses throw open their doors and musicians play wherever they can find an audience. Take the opportunity to sample snacks from the food trucks or cool off with some shave ice by the ocean.

Of course, much of Kapaa’s appeal lies in doing exactly what you want, when you want. So, once you’ve ambled along the coastal path, you can hop around the charming shops of the town center. The Kinipopo Shopping Village and the Shops at Wailua Kai are packed with stores selling traditional souvenirs, quick bites, and that clothing staple, the Hawaiian shirt.