The perfect day in paradise - the short list

my favorite things to do + the short list

My “vacation” on Kauai is soon coming to an end and in a few days I will be heading back into my other amazing life in California - where I will be creating Culinary Adventures in breathtaking locations for my other love child company www.acaliforniaadventure.com

One of these days I will tell you more about living two lives - or better living one amazing life in two locations - thousands of ocean miles apart - for now just know that I am living a charmed live and I am working on bringing the two closer together - for a super fluid lifestyle. I have never been a believer of either/or situations - and it seems I want it all - we’ll see how that story unfolds and works out…stay tuned

Back to my list - Why a shortlist? I have friends from Germany arriving on Kauai very soon, but I won’t be there to create the perfect day in paradise for them, so I decided to create a short list of my favorite places, experiences + contacts on Kauai - ingredients + tips to create the perfect day

Here is my shortlist:

  1. Shortly after your arrival go for a swim in the ocean - stay in the water for at least 30-45 minutes it will add a week of relaxation to your vacation

  2. Get a massage. Make it 1.5 hours - not a minute less! Kauai is a place of healing and we have some of the most talented body workers on the island. Ideally schedule it for the day after your arrival - it will melt away the stress you’ve been carrying around for too long. My favorite massage therapists are:

    Kim Elegado in Kilauea - phone/text: 808-482-0488 - book your appointment before you arrive a few weeks in advance - she gets booked far in advance

    Kurtis Kunesh in Princeville - phone/text: 808-651-4782 - his massages are quite an experience- he also offers sound healing - he is a wonderful man - you are safe with him - I trust him with my life and oh the aromatherapy oils he uses - heavenly!

  3. Watch every sunrise + sunset. Stay on the beach after the sun has set and marvel at the stars. Bring food and drinks - light a fire or do nothing - just sit there.

  4. Ekomomai Gift Baskets - Surprise yourself, your partner or your family with a custom Gift basket filled with Aloha and local favorites - my friend Anita is creating the most delicious, decadent one of a kind Ekomomai Baskets - E Komo Mai in Hawaii means welcome - her baskets will bring the spirit of Aloha to you and your loved ones - have it delivered to your rental before your arrival and experience what Kauai tastes like - call/text Anita 619-885-9095 instagram @Ekomomaibaskets - inquire about shipping nation wide

  5. Have a beach day - I mean stay for hours on the beach - start in the morning - bring a book - lot’s of water - soak it in - swim a lot - rest - repeat. If you decide to spend the day on the beach in Hanalei - then pick up Sushi Rolls + Poke etc from the Dolphin Fish Market - take them to the beach for lunch. Or pick up Paninis from the Hanalei Bread Company.

  6. My favorite Restaurants on the island are:

    Jo2 - Kapaa ( dinner only, reservations required)

    Hemmingway - Kapaa ( Breakfast / Lunch - and dinner but only on Fridays - Sundays I love dinner when Jana + Markus cook - they are German)

    Oasis Restaurant - Kapaa - ( lunch + dinner ) - the Fish Tacos are delicious ( Lunch) - the Thai Bowl (Dinner) - The Oasis is one of the very few ocean front restaurants - it remains an insider tip!

    The Beach House - Poipu (reservations required)

    Postcards - Hanalei - Dinner only ( reservations recommended)

    The Dolphin Restaurant - Hanalei - ( Lunch + Dinner) + Sushi Bar

    The Dolphin Fish Market - Hanalei - pick up your fresh sushi + rolls + poke here and eat on the beach for lunch - freshest fish ever !!!! This is a must for fish lovers - go early - they sell out mid day or go around 2 pm they usually bring out the second wave of fresh Sushi Rolls - You will never eat fresher fish than here

    The Kilauea Fish Market - Kilauea - on the way to the Lighthouse - great for lunch and very casual dinner

    The Winebar/Bistro - Kilauea -

    Trilogy - Coffeeshop - Kilauea

    The Hanalei Bread Co - I love the Blended Mocha + Lilikoi Rolls + their Avocado Toasts

    Bar Acuda - Hanalei - Dinner only - you need reservations

    Ama - a new Ramen place with breathtaking views of the Namolokama Mountain Range

    Tide Pools - Poipu - at the Hyatt Hotel -

    Kukui’ula Shopping Center - Poipu - has multiple nice restaurants

    Kalaheo Coffee Company - Kalaheo - great for Lunch

    Kikuchi’s Food Truck - Lihue - on Kalapaki Bay - only 10 minutes from the airport - you may want to stop here or at Dukes Barefoot Bar across the street on the ocean if your plane arrives mid day - before you head to your hotel)

  7. Hanapepe + Waimea Canyon - make time to visit the small artist town of Hanapepe - it has a few great stores and eateries and the BEST bakery with real bread ! Bear Moon Bakery ( Bread also available at Saturday Farmers Market in Kilauea - Evan and his wife do exactly what I did 28 years ago when I had my Vollkorn Bakery on Kauai and sold bread at all the Farmers Markets. Stop in Hanapepe on your way up or down from the Waimea Canyon + Koke’e. Check for Friday Art Market

  8. Here is some very important information before you visit the Na Pali Coast, Ke’e Beach, Haena. You need a parking + hiking permit or a reservation to go to Haena, Ke’e Beach, Kalalau Trail etc go to www.gohaena.com - you must have this - or they will turn you around - parking at Haena Beach Park and Limahuli Garden is available without permit, but is limited. Another option is the new North Shore Shuttle - it works great and helps to reduce the endless traffic to the end of the road

  9. Watch Taylor Camp the movie - now in it’s newest release “The Edge of Paradise” - it’s an epic piece of North Shore Kauai hippie history - and when you drive to the end of the road to Ke’e Beach and the Na Pali coast you will be parking at Taylor Camp - Note: instead of walking the Boardwalk to the beach wander thru Taylor Camp, there is small path at the edge of the trees/parkinglot - take it and follow it - eventually you will end up on the beach. Once on the beach turn left and walk along the shore to Ke’e Beach - walking to Ke’e from here will present you with the most dramatic view of the entire Na Pali Coast Line

  10. Hike at least the first 10 minutes of the Kalalau Trail to the first look out - or venture on and hike to the waterfall - remember that you must have permits - bring water and food and good footwear - this is a day trip - your shoes will get very dirty and may never recover from the red dirt - this hike is at times strenuous

  11. Visit Limahuli Gardens (Tue - Sat) it is magical

  12. Go to Stone Dam in Kilauea. Park at the end of Kuava Rd and walk for 10-15 minutes - the Garden of Eden awaits - pack a lunch picnic (pick up Fish wraps from Kilauea Fish market - I love the Ahi or Ono Wrap - something to drink and take it with you - you will thank me! This is a short adventure 2 hrs or so … afterwards visit the Kilauea Lighthouse and and have coffee at Trilogy or the Kilauea Bakery in Kilauea - also on the way to the Lighthouse stop at Kong Lung shops and walk across the street to the cool shops in the stone buildings - if you are fresh juice person - stop at Kauai Juice for their outrageously delicious Mango Kombucha

  13. The best Surf School is located in Hanalei - Hanalei Beach Boys next to the epic Tahiti Nui Restaurant. Mitch - Scott and David are the best teachers ever - if you follow their instructions you will surf in no time

  14. Spend a day in Hanalei and ride bicycles - yes all of you - park your car at Ching Young Shopping Center where you can rent bikes at Pedal + Paddle and explore Hanalei - the Bay - Weke Road - the Hanalei Pier - Pine Trees - go swimming on the beach - it’ll make you feel like a local. Around lunch time ride your bike to pick up Sushi Rolls from The Hanalei Dolphin Fish Market or Panini’s from The Hanalei Bread Co - or from one of the Food Trucks - then ride back to the beach - sit at a picnic table at Pine Trees and enjoy a delicious lunch. In the afternoon go shopping in the many cute stores - Havaiki - Sandpeople - Hanalei Surf Shop - On the Road to Hanalei - Hula Girl - I love Hanalei - are some of my favorites. Hanalei is most charming beach town and best explored on a bicycle - bike to the picturesque Green Waioli Church and make sure to go in the back to look at the Mission House - even if it’s not open. Remember to take in the view of the majestic Namolokama Mountain Range from the Hanalei Pier - or ride your bike to Hanalei School and count the waterfalls that create the back drop for this wonderful school - your kids will beg you to stay and enroll them into this school

  15. Have a Lappert’s Ice cream - try the Macadamia Nut Chocolate Cone with any of their ice creams - I love Auntie Lilikoi + Kauai Lava Java (multiple locations on island)

  16. Fly helicopter! I love the the Helicopter Company that flies out of Princeville take a mid morning tour - this will take your breath away. book the long tour it’s worth every penny

  17. The best Beaches - always go to the beach in the mornings and explore in the afternoons - please always be safe and check for waves and conditions - take the ocean serious and never turn your back to the ocean

    Tunnels Beach - great with kids especially in summer when flat

    Little Lumahai - past Waikoko’s just outside of Hanalei on the way to Haena - not always safe for swimming

    Hanalei Bay - life guards - great with kids

    Secret Beach - be very careful- dangerous surf - steep, long hike but worth it! Not ideal for swimming but very beautiful -

    Rockquarry Beach Kilauea - off Wailapa Road - no lifeguard

    Kealia Beach - go to the far left corner for a somewhat protected cove - beware of submerged rocks close to the shore in some portions of the beach

    Salt Pond - Hanapepe ( stop here after your trip to the Waimea Canyon and unwind and soak in the water- safe with kids

    Lydgate Park - very protected snorkeling for kids

  18. Hindu Temple - visit the temple - it is an hour of peaceful tranquility! Make sure to check for their visiting hours - on the way to the temple you will pass Opaekaa Falls and Hawaiian Village were Outbreak was filmed … Go kayaking on the Wailua afterwards - this is an easy Kayak Adventure and fine with kids!

  19. Hike Sleeping Giant - followed by a swim at Lydgate Park in Wailua - after that explore the shops in Kapaa - ok with kids

  20. Kayak the Wailua River start at Kamokila Hawaiian Village - on the way you will see the Opaeka’a Waterfall

  21. Kayak the Na Pali Coast - but please note - this is not for wimps! This is a strenuous all day adventure - this is only for people who don’t get sea sick and are in good shape

  22. Take a boat/snorkel trip down the Na Pali coast - start from the North Shore for a more dramatic coastline - I love North Shore Charters in Kilauea - they have a Zodiak that leaves from Anini Beach. Or any of the boats that leave from Hanalei. Take the early morning tour! Again this is only for those who don’t get sea sick

  23. Best Hula Show - Smith Family in Wailua ( skip the Luaau Dinner) - just see the show

  24. Stand Up Paddle at Anini Beach - check with Mark Andre at ph/text: 808-647-0082 - he will take you to the dolphins and turtles on a calm day in the summer

  25. Swim with turtles at Anini Beach - Kilauea - go early in the morning - the sunrise will be magnificent follow with a day in Hanalei ( no need to stay at Anini all day)

  26. Buy fruit at the Farmers Market and try Dante’s Barefoot Chocolates at the Kilauea Market on Saturday - tell him I said hi! - he might give you extra chocolate - learn about his super food products - they are delicious + healthy - his dogs name is Romeo