Our summer home is on the north shore of Kauai. Ok, that’s not true. My husband and I don’t own a beach house. We don’t have plans to buy a beach house, Mega Millions windfall notwithstanding. We’ve never even stayed in Kauai for more than two consecutive weeks. But, through 5 visits in 10 years, Kauai has become our favorite place. Travel nirvana. We have mastered the art of “power decompressing” on this lush little dot in the Pacific and, truly, sometimes achingly, feel it’s a home away from home. If you’ve been to Kauai (probably on your honeymoon) you very likely:
- Stayed at the St. Regis Princeville resort, drank Green Flash cocktails on the Makana Terrace, got a couples massage.
- Spent at least one full day driving all over the island ticking off the requisite Must Do’s, including standing in the hour-long Ono-Char Burger line and sampling each of the island’s 15 most pristine beaches for approximately 10 minutes apiece.
- Went to a luau.
- Took lots of pictures with pretty scenery in the background.
That’s all perfectly appropriate. Those Green Flash cocktails are tasty. But try this version. It’s even more relaxing, less expensive, and guaranteed to empower you with the very same delusions of inhabitance we have. Follow these seven tips, and you’ll feel right at home, too.
1. Rent a House
This is a prerequisite. A critical step in getting that “I live here and have not a care in the world” feeling. There are oodles of cute houses to rent on the north shore, many of which are surprisingly inexpensive and offer close access to the best beaches. Kauaivacationrentals.com is a good site to browse – Anini Beach and Ha’ena areas are especially great.
2. Stay Put on the North Shore
The 15-mile stretch from Kilauea to Ke’e Beach is so stunningly beautiful that there is no reason to stray from it. The beach is the place to be, not the car.
3. Cook at Home
There’s a big grocery store called Foodland in Princeville. Stock up on basics there. On Tuesdays at 2pm (sharp!) hit up the Farmer’s Market for your fruits and veggies, which will include avocados and mangos the size of your head. And don’t miss this: behind the popular Dolphin Restaurant is the tiny yet bountiful Dolphin Fish Market. Stop here to buy Opah or Ono fillets and then go fire up the grill.
4. Dine Here Not There
In Hanalei for lunch? Skip Bubba Burger and go to Chicken in a Barrel, across the street. Get your foodie-approved tapas dinner at Bar Acuda. Dine oceanside at Mediterranean Gourmet – Wednesday nights they have live music and half-priced wine.
5. Move, Just Enough
Snorkel at Tunnels Beach. It’s less crowded than Ke’e Beach, down the road. Rent a standup paddleboard at Kayak Hanalei and float down the adjacent river to Hanalei Bay. Do the spectacular 8-mile Hanakapi’ai Falls hike if you haven’t before, but only if you have good knees, a lot of water and a love of steep inclines.
6. Skinny Dip
First, grab deli sandwiches from Big Save Market and a bottle of wine. Head to the beach for a sunset picnic. Watch the sun go down and the stars come out – all bajillion of them. Disrobe, dive in. I have yet to be eaten by a shark.
7. Get Deep
As a parting gift to yourself, get a seaside massage at Hanalei Day Spa. It’s a low-key, high-bliss kind of establishment. Call ahead for their signature Ayurveda warm oil massage. Aloha. You’ll be back.