People say they are “called” to Kauai—here’s where that begins to sound less Bible-thumpy.
My father-in-law discovered it in 1982, when a long layover in Honolulu prompted him to ask an airline employee what other island he should visit.
Take a seat on the bakery’s wraparound porch for some fantastic people-watching—this is the de facto town square, where tattooed surfers, attractive young tourist couples, oddly healthy wild chickens, and, depending on the day, Pierce Brosnan (who has a house here) all pass by.
Other than Moffat’s establishments, a new influx of food trucks, and a slight increase in rush-hour traffic, Hanalei has changed little in recent years.
As a result, Hanalei, especially, often feels like some secret Hawaii, a last bastion of undiscovered authenticity where it’s still possible to live like a local.
Here you can watch Hamilton, who grew up on Kauai, catch perfectly peeling waves at the point break a few hundred yards out from the St. Or rent a board from the Hanalei Surf Company and ride some yourself at Pine Trees, the narrow beach on Hanalei Bay where local legends Andy and Bruce Irons learned to surf.
” snorts Moffat with a shrug when an employee finds him on the porch to inform him that his restaurant and bakery have both lost power.
Back in Princeville, you can walk down an unassuming path and find yourself swimming at Queen’s Bath, a gleaming tidal pool carved by lava, amid fish crashed in by the waves, or waiting for a sea turtle to swim by before jumping off low cliffs into the ocean.
(Don’t even consider doing this unless it’s summer and the surf is calm; plenty of people have been swept out to sea.) Later, you’ll want to blow off your dinner reservation and pick up fresh ono at the fish market behind the kitschy Dolphin Restaurant, then make a picnic of it on the beach. “So many of the best experiences here are about getting lost,” says Aaron Moeller, 35, a Kauai-raised organic farmer and founder of Naikela Botanicals, a line of locally grown herbal teas and health powders.
“There’s not a lot of white noise or distraction, so you kind of have to deal with yourself.” This is a place where the surf is big, the rain plentiful, and the hiking legendary—many trails end at waterfalls or pristine beaches, like Hanakapi‘ai, the hidden slip of sand two miles into the Na Pali Coast’s famous Kalalau Trail.
The North Shore is the last word in beaches, really—a mic drop of sand-meets-sea around every bend in the road—and has been immortalized in films from (2011), making the island an open secret in Hollywood.