Having shared my favorite food haunts in Hanalei, I thought I’d prove that I do a little more than just eat when I visit the Garden Island. Whenever I come here, it’s usually because life has been more exhausting than usual, so you’ll find that relaxation is high on my list.
1. Laze around on Hanalei Bay
For all the secret beaches and special spots, and truly, they are great, one of my favorite things to do is hang out on the beach at Hanalei Bay. It’s one of my favorite beaches in the world, guarded as it is by the famous “Puff the Magic Dragon”. Its crystal clear waters are smooth and gentle in summer, turning to raging big surf in winter. Either way, there’s always something fun to watch. We rented a paddle board from the little surf rental spot outside of QuikSilver and Monkey and I tried to go tandem. It didn’t work. Teen sulks ensured. Oh well. Better to sulk in paradise than anywhere else I guess.
2. Watch the sunset
There are many places to watch the spectacular sunsets from. A favorite spot for us is Anini Beach, which is where we stayed. Another, is the balcony at the St Regis in Princeville – grab an expensive cocktail and some mediocre sushi and take in the magnificence of the mountain backdrop that frames Hanalei Bay.
3. Get a mani pedi at Styles Studio
I found a wonderful little salon upstairs in the Ching Young Village shopping center: Styles Studio. The gal who did my nails was super sweet and gave us a couple of tips, including the poke bowl truck next to Big Save supermarket and the Holey Grail taro donuts truck. It’s always worth asking locals for their insights. At $50 for a ‘spa’ pedi, it wasn’t cheap, but it was worth it and and she did a great job. Call 808-378-4290 to make an appointment.
4. Have a facial at On & On
Another super way to relax, especially on a rainy morning or afternoon, is to visit On and On upstairs from BarAcuda restaurant. With a focus on non-toxic, natural products, the interior of this little spa is soothing and welcoming inside. I enjoyed my facial and at $100 for 50 minutes it wasn’t too far off what you might pay on the mainland.
5. Visit the Kauai Juice Co. about 100 Times
We first discovered the Kauai Juice Co. in 2015 when it had just started to pop up with its own branded stores. There’s one in Kilauea that’s close to where we stay, and I noticed with interest that it has expanded its offerings beyond kombucha and coconut milk kefir, to include meals in jars (quinoa, noodles, etc), probiotic yoghurts and a coconut cream, chia, almond butter parfait that I could seriously have committed a crime for.
Creamy, unctuous, not sweet and with an amazing almond butter surprise in the base of the jar. As the girl in the store said to me, “It’s very satisfying.” As it should be with all those good fats.
6. Do yoga
My yoga practice has been neglected of late, what with my Orange Theory Fitness obsession and my four-legged friend, Quintessa. However, I managed to get in a number of yoga classes on our trip, which felt really good, and also entirely relaxing. Hanalei Yoga offers a variety of hatha classes, taught by well-trained teachers who focus on alignment (there’s a rope wall, so in one class we hung upside down: as you do). Metamorphose Yoga is in Kilauea and has a few more vinyasa flow classes on offer. If you go, check out Tulasi’s classes – she’s a friend, and a great teacher. We even coerced Monkey into taking a class!
7. Visit the farmers market
There are markets all over the North Shore offering a combination of local crafts and goods, freshly picked fruits and vegetables and mouthwatering cooked food. There’s usually a big market in Hanalei on Saturday mornings at 9.30am; there’s a couple in Kilauea near the mini golf (Saturdays at 9am, and Tuesday lunchtime). And there’s a little in the Princeville Shopping Center parking on Sunday late afternoons.
8. Play pick-up basketball
Okay, I realize that most of you won’t be looking for a game of pick-up basketball during your visit, but I was traveling with a ball-crazy teen. He discovered that the Kilauea community gym is open for pick-up games on Sunday evenings from 6pm-10pm, and so we duly went along to check it out. Of course, this is for locals, but he skirted around the edges and had fun watching the games and shooting a few hoops. If you find yourself there, you can always check out Palate, a wine bar with a decent-looking menu, or order a pizza to take home from the Kilauea Bakery, which is an institution in itself.
9. Watch the sunrise
If you visit Kauai from the West coast of the mainland in summer, you’ll find yourself setting your watch (phone?) back three hours. Okay, fine, you’ll phone will set itself back. Anyway, this means falling asleep by 8pm and walking up at 4.30am or 5am for the first few days. I say, take advantage of this monastic style of living, and watch the sunset, if possible right from your bed, which I was fortunate to do. There is a quiet, stillness and peace to the world as the dawn breaks and the roosters start to crow.
10. Just drink it all in, every last sip
The north shore of Kauai never fails to take my breath away. Whether it’s the rainbow that greets you on the first evening, or the spectacular sunset that says goodbye on your last night. Whether it’s the raging, torrential waterfalls, visible from many miles away, falling from such great heights that only gods have ever seen the source, or the eclectic mix of local fauna: feral cats and feral chickens living side-by-side with indigenous sea birds, owls and colorful red-hooded cardinals. Whether it’s a torrential rain storm outside your door. Or whether it’s the crystal clear, turquoise ocean that gently lap your feet in one season, or knock you down in another.
Kauai’s North Shore is a magically, blessed place and it’s complete lack of high rise hotels, major highways and chain restaurants is what makes it so incredibly special. Long may it remain unspoiled.