For many years Wailua was the seat of power for the island of Kauai, and it was not until after the arrival of foreign ships that the ruling center for the island moved to Waimea. An ahupua‘a (traditional land division) running from the mountains to the ocean, Wailua's upland area was opened for homesteading in 1919. At the lower level, the town of Kapaa, which originally was a series of Hawaiian fishing villages, owes its existence to the pineapple industry, with a cannery operating here from 1913 to 1960. Kuhio Highway is the town's central spine.
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