Kauai stole my heart long ago and I have forsaken all other Hawaiian islands for many years. But all that changed when I visited O’ahu for the Wanderlust Festival – a three-day haven of yoga, meditation, music, beach, food and fun. What better combination?
To boot, the famous, Quiksilver In Memory of Eddie Aikau surf contest, aka “The Eddie”, was finally called on February 25th, which added to the general celebratory air on the North Shore. As yogis, musicians and surfers, congregated at the recently renovated Turtle Bay Resort, it was just as much fun as it sounds.
First the hotel. While not a particularly attractive building from the exterior, the good news is that every room has a view of the ocean and the grounds, beach, pool and bar are all glorious. The rooms have been updated and have a fresh, beach feel – not that you’re going to spend that much time indoors when you’re in paradise. Watching the sunset poolside with a cocktail (gin and tonic in my case) in hand, is a must.
If you want to be active, Turtle Bay is the place to be. There’s local surfing – with an instructor if you’re a beginner; there are a number of coastal running trails, including a path around a wonderful banyan tree; tennis courts; bikes for hire, a spa and even a stables for beach rides.
However, most of the activities I participated in were part of the Wanderlust line-up. Happily for me, my beloved yoga teacher, Stephanie Snyder, was teaching every day, so my days were guaranteed to be great. From Goddess flow, to somatic and chakra-oriented practices, her teaching is out of this world and even better enjoyed in paradise.
Two other yoga highlights were my first experience with Kundalini yoga, taught by the inimitable Gloria Latham, and yoga on a paddle board during a decent swell. It’s hard to explain Kundalini except to say it WAKES UP your entire body: mentally and physically. I was shaking for about two hours after, as if I’d drunk 10 cups of coffee. Amazing!
As for SUP (standup paddleboard) yoga—our boards were tethered together given the recent conditions—doing yoga on water changes everything. No longer are you thinking about form and placement of limbs, but simply trying not to fall into the cool sunrise waters. Apparently, it is best done in glassy conditions. Next time.
Once the day of yoga and meditation activities winds down, Wanderlust takes on a whole different vibe, with live outdoor concerts, indoor DJ sets and food and drinks on offer around the venue. With just a handful of food vendors to choose from (think salads, rice and ahi poke bowls) one of my favorites was the French-style buckwheat crêpes. Both sweet and savory were on offer from Delice Crêpes. Made and served by a real-deal French crew—who are so impossibly charming, it’s hard not to keep coming back for more—find them at festivals and markets.
I didn’t get much of a chance to explore the local area, aside from a quick trip into the old town, Halewei, for breakfast at Kono’s. The surf-oriented interior is hip and chic, and the breakfast was pretty good: lots of egg and bacon burritos and there’s even a secret menu, although not so secret given you can find it on their web site.
All in all, I have found plenty of room in my heart for O’ahu and will certainly be returning to explore more of the North Shore. Oh, and Virgin America now flies to Honolulu which is a big bonus, as they are hands-down my favorite airline.
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