One of my most vivid memories of my first trip to Kauai was paddling out at a famous beach break called Pine Trees where Alana Blanchard surfed circles around me. Those of you who saw Soul Surfer—a movie that, if you have a pulse, made you feel all warm and gushy and motivated inside—may remember Alana’s name. She’s just one of the best surfers in the world. No big deal. And surfing alongside(ish) her was awesome.
But see, the thing about Kauai is that it practically trades in memories—amazing memories. And when you’re there you can’t help but collect them like you could collect seashells on its sugar beaches. Hanalei on the island’s North Shore is the actual land of Puff and little Jackie Paper and a guaranteed memory-maker no matter what you get up to there. Of course, there are a few places well worth hitting if you’re wondering where to get started…
Where: Harvest Market Hanalei
Why: Organic smoothies, for a start. With a delicious take-out menu and salad bar, this is your healthy home away from home.
Wow factor: Over 80 vendors from the Garden Island (as Kauai is known) supply this grocer and deli with its fruits, vegetables, baking and body care products.
Where: Yoga Hanalei
Why: Because what’s more perfect than paradise? Blissing out in paradise!
Wow factor: The studio has a yoga rope wall so you can mix up your practise with some fresh postures.
Where: Tahiti Nui Restaurant
Why: Three reasons, actually: it’s a historic landmark and a legit tiki bar; the mai tais; and the live music.
Wow factor: George Clooney filmed a scene here for the movie The Descendents. Maybe you’ll get lucky and he’ll come back.
Where: Hanalei Surf Company
Why: To rent a surfboard or buy one—the ultimate souvenir.
Wow factor: This place has helped to breed some of the best female surfers the world has known. And yes, Bethany Hamilton and Alana Blanchard are two of them.
Where: Wai’oli Hui’ia Church
Why: It’s over 100 years old, its history dates back almost 200 years, and it’s an architecturally fascinating and beautiful little building.
Wow factor: Rainbows seem to tumble down over the lush green mountains and into this little church. Regardless your religion or your take on religion, it’s a moving sight.