This summer included a girls’ reunion week on the majestic island of Kaua’i. A reunion, of sorts, because the gal pals I met up with live in three different countries, and we haven’t seen each other for almost 8 years!?! I know, seriously. We used to live in the same city, once upon a time — and then we went to all points across the Pacific Ocean (south, north, east, west).
So, I had no idea what to expect from Kaua’i — I came there with clear mind and open heart to just discovery its beauty and warmth. It showed up in spades.
I had a layover in Seattle, where CNN informed me that two hurricanes were hurling towards the islands of Hawaii. TWO. You know what they look like on TV? Whirling dervishes, my friend.
Not to worry, by the time the first hurricane made its way to Kauai, it was downgraded to a tropical storm, what with Big Island and Maui getting the brunt of it. We had one day of morning rain. That’s it. The second hurricane decided to change course and it deviated north, away from the islands, and that was that.
So here is what’s most important to you. We beached. We snorkelled. We hiked. We chilled. We shopped. We explored. We ate. We ate. And we ate. You basically drive around the outskirts of the island in one big loop. We stayed on the east-side of the island in Kapaa, which is basically between the North Shore and the South Shore, and a tad north of Lihue, the capital. Kaua’i is not as bustling as Oahu or Maui, it’s more of a nature enclave, and thank goodness for that. These are the sights and eats and in betweens we enjoyed the most:
♡ WAIMEA CANYON
Oh holy wonder. It’s apparently called the Grand Canyon of the Pacific with a chasm over 3,000 feet deep. You’ll drive up and stop along the way for lookouts that crop up every here and there. There’s a variety of hiking trails you can take too, but the easiest one is Cliff Trail, which is 3.2 km (2 miles) long.
♡ NORTH SHORE
Lush green mountains. White sandy beaches. Clear blue ocean. Surfers. Bikinis. Fish. Pure love. The best beaches on the island are situated here — but get there before 10:00 or else you’ll be driving around looking for parking.
NA PALI CLIFFS
PO’IPU BEACH PARK
MAKUA (TUNNELS) BEACH
HAMURA’S SAIMIN STAND
Somewhat hidden from the main road, so you better have GPS to figure out where to find it. Saimin = ramen, if you’re wondering. The lineup is ridiculous and the place is this slapshot diner, with the cutest Nikkei women running the kitchen.
I love their noodles — chewy, long, just right. Their broth tastes subtle like a really good ramen shop in the backalleys of Shinjuku have to offer. This is a good thing. Sometimes noodle broth in North America is too salty to appease North American tastebuds. There’s tons of bowl sizes, toppings to choose from, but I went for the prawn.
We sat with locals, including “living treasure” Beverly Muraoka (hula queen). Her family was there to celebrate her honour at the Kauai Museum (but the hurricane threat postponed the event until October). So friendly and lovely!
After you finish your saimin, enjoy a piece of lilikoi chiffon pie. Oh.my.word. Best thing ever. Lilikoi = passionfruit. A spo
ORIGINAL JO JO’S ANUEANUE SHAVE ICE
OMOIDE BAKERY & WONG’S CHINESE DELI
OASIS ON THE BEACH
KAUAI COFFEE PLANTATION