I am posting this while on a break from da beach. Not just any beach but a Hawaiian beach. Probably a secret one with no tourists thanks to my local connection Ms. Amanda who fled the Mainland nearly four years ago. Sad on a daily basis but happy because I can visit her in paradise. Every Thanksgiving since her departure. My boys love. I love. Her family loves. Win win. I asked her to offer a list of locals-only insights to my favorite island.
top 3 fave beaches Hanalei (Pavillions parking lot), Polihale, Baby Beach in Poipu
locals only secret eats
Juice bar in Kuks market in Poipu (The acai bowls for lunch!) Paco's tacos in Hanapepe
Ishihara for poke in Waimea (Poke at deli. DO NOT MISS)
Fish Express for poke in Lihue
Smoothies at Moloa'a Fruitstand
Shaved Ice in Kilauea http://www.shaveicetegetege.com/
Keokis for fish tacos in Poipu
The Feral Pig for their burgers and beers in Lihue
Pat's taco truck in Hanalei
The Green Pig food truck across from Kealia beach on the east side
The Greek Truck next to Paco's truck in Kapaa, .
bike rentals for trail I only know about renting bikes in Kapaa right next to Ono Family Restaurant in Kapaa. Then you can do the long bike ride to Kealia beach and hit some food trucks in the way. Rental is $10 for 2 hours. (Make time for this if you have kids.)
best hotel bar Koa Kea in Poipu, great sushi and drinks.
best cocktail Plantation Gardens has a mango martini. Also good drinks at the St. Regis lobby bar in Princeville but $$$$. Tortilla Republic in Poipu has lots of tequila. And La Spezia is new in Koloa! Great bar and restaurant. http://laspeziakauai.com/ (I also love Beach House at sunset.)
best surf spots Rule is that the biggest waves are in the North in the winter (now) and biggest in the south in the summer. Waiohai in Poipu, Rock Quarries on the the northshore and Polihale on the west.
hikes Waimea Canyon/Kokee; Airplane trail at Kalalau Lookout and Alaka'i Swamp. East, Sleeping Giant. South, Shipwrecks beach to Maha'ulepu. North, Hanakapi'ai Falls.
local shopping Art Walk in Hanapepe on Friday nights 6-9pm includes lots of cute shops including Machine Machine's Workshop with food trucks and music.
Kukui'ula Shopping Center in Poipu - Love the boutiques Poipu Surf, Olivine Beach Boutique and Halele`a Gallery.
I Heart Hanalei has great swimsuits and I love Sand People and Sand Kids in Poipu, too.
Shout out to the island's vintage Humane Society thrift shop in Lihue; The United Church of Christ in Hanapepe on Mondays from 8:00am-11:30 (I've been! Everything $.50-$3. AMAZING).