How to Eat Like a Surfer on Kauai

How to Eat Like a Surfer on Kauai

IMG_0641One of my greatest pleasures is traveling, and last fall I was lucky enough to visit the beautiful island of Kauai with my Surfer Boy. While we were there, I discovered that there are many restaurants on Kauai that cater to tourists, (no trip to Kauai would be complete without trying the Hula Pie at Keoki’s Paradise).  But if you want to experience the beautiful Garden Isle like a local, here are a few suggestions that will let you eat like a surfer, even if you aren’t.


Ishihara Market is in Waimea on the west side of Kauai.  Most of the store is a typical neighborhood grocery store.  But the deli at the back of the store is a local secret.

Ishihara sells the best Poke (pronounced “Poh-Kay”) on the island.  Poke is a raw fish salad often made of ahi tuna.  The lobster Poke melts in your mouth like butter.   You can buy Poke by the pound.  I recommend getting some of the ahi Poke and the lobster Poke.  If you’re really hungry, add a Hawaiian plate lunch with chicken teriyaki, and head to Polihale State Park for a day of shredding waves at the beach.

Ishihara Market is located at 9894 Kaumualii Hwy, Waimea, HI.

Old Koloa Town

One of the best kept secrets of Old Koloa Town on the south side of Kauai is the Koloa Fish Market.  Their Hawaiian Plates of lomi-lomi salmon and Kahlua pig make a perfect break from shopping at the old plantation stores that have been turned into shops for tourists.

Lomi-lomi salmon is a salad made of fresh tomato and salmon.  Kahlua pork is made from cooking an entire pig underground in an imu until it is tender enough to shred.

The Koloa Fish Market is located at 5482 Koloa Rd, Koloa, HI across the street from the Koloa Post Office.

Poipu Beach

Brennecke’s Beach Deli offers the consummate surfer lunch: chili and rice.  Grab your bowl of chili and rice, and a mochi or a shave ice, and head across the street to the Poipu Beach Park.  Sit under the plumeria trees at one of the many picnic tables or throw out a blanket on the grass and watch the surfers attack Nu Kamoi Point and Left Lefts.

Brennecke’s Beach Deli is located at 2100 Hoone Road, Poipu Beach, Koloa, HI.

When you’ve had your fill of the beach, head over to the Kuk, or the Kukuiula Store, for spam musubi.  Spam musubi is a slice of grilled spam and a block of white rice wrapped in nori (dried seaweed).  After grabbing your musubi, head to the back of the Kuk for a fresh juice, smoothie or acai bowl at Anake’s Juice Bar.

Photo Courtesy Anake’s Juice Bar

The Kukuiula Store and Anake’s Juice Bar are located at 2827 Poipu Road, Koloa, HI.


Not far from the Lihue Airport are two local favorites.

Hamura’s Saimin is an iconic restaurant in Kauai featuring saimin, a Hawaiian-style noodle dish that made with Chinese-style noodles in a Japanese-style broth and pieces of fish, pork, green onion, and a boiled egg.  For dessert, grab a piece of lilikoi (passion fruit) chiffon pie.   Order your saimin and pie to go, and take it to the nearby Nawiliwili Park and watch the stand up paddle boarders and surfers as helicopters fly tourists overhead.

Hamura’s Saimin is located at 2956 Rice Street, Lihue, HI.

After you finish your lunch, head straight from the Nawiliwili Park to the K-Mart and visit Kauai Malasadas, a little stand in front of K-Mart that makes the best malasadas on the island.  Malasadas are Portuguese bits of dough, deep-fried and covered in sugar, similar to doughnuts.

Malasadas definitely taste better hot and fresh because once they are cold, they resemble a hockey putt more than a doughnut.  So make sure you only order as many as you can eat while they are hot.

Kauai Malasadas is located at 4303 Nawiliwili Road, Lihue, HI in front of the K-Mart.


Haena Beach Park on State Road 560 just past Tunnels Beach has a food truck that serves freshly-picked and cut pineapple and mango that are perfect for a day of watching surfers at Tunnels Beach.  Or stop for a quick dip, and take your fruit with you to Ke’e Beach or the Kalalau Trail on the North Shore of Kauai.


On your way from the Haena Beach Park toward the North Shore, make sure you stop in Hanalei for a Loco Moco.  The Loco Moco is the epitome of surfer food:  a hamburger patty on white rice, covered with a fried egg and brown gravy.  Chicken in a Barrel in Hanalei is a great place to stop on your way to or from the North Shore.

Chicken in a Barrel is located at 5-5190 Kuhio Highway, Hanalei, HI.

There are many places to eat on Kauai, but these are some of my new favorites after visiting Kauai with  my favorite Surfer Boy.  Next time you are in Kauai, give a few of them a try and let me know what you think!

Ever Upward Regina Mae

Why Every Woman Should Travel Alone

Why Every Woman Should Travel Alone

I am a happy introvert who is fairly content to spend long periods of time alone reading or writing.  I love long lazy afternoons lounging on the back patio under the ceiling fan with the smells of honeysuckle and jasmine surrounding me, nothing to keep me company but my bevy of dogs and an occasional hummingbird.

But the caveat is that those alone times are always at home.

I’ve never been comfortable being alone in public, and didn’t eat in a restaurant alone until I was in my twenties.  (Which sounds pretty ridiculous now that I’m fifty, but it is what it is.)

All that changed for me the year I traveled to Europe alone.

I booked the trip to spend a week in Paris and Rome with a companion, but in the three months that passed between booking the trip and leaving, the relationship faded.  Which left me with choosing between foregoing the dream trip of a lifetime or going alone.

One of my friends was especially encouraging about my going to Europe alone.  He sent me links to articles written by women who traveled alone, and regaled me with tales of one of his friends who only traveled alone.  He and his partner sat me down and marked up my street maps of Paris and Rome so I would know where I should go, and gave me an intense lesson on using the Metro (which I never got to put into practice because I never could find the metro).

Before I knew it, the months passed and it was time to go.

Nobody To Take Care Of But Myself

Traveling Alone flight was one of those all-night affairs that, coupled with a six-hour time difference, meant I arrived in Paris hours before my hotel room was ready.  Since I’ve never been able to sleep in a plane, I arrived in Paris punch-drunk with fatigue and excitement.

My tour included a two day pass for the hop-on hop-off bus tour, and was the perfect way to get to know the city. I had five hours to fill before I could get into my room, and by the end, I’d seen the Arc de Triomphe, the Eiffel Tower, and spent a glorious hour wandering around the Musee D’Orsay.  By two o’clock, I was tired and hungry.  I sat on the tour bus thinking, “I am so glad I’m the only person I have to worry about right now.”

I’m the oldest of five children, was a wife by the time I was twenty, and am the mama of two beautiful children.  That day in Paris was the first time in years that I didn’t have anyone else to take care of but myself.

It was my first of many epiphanies on my week-long adventure.

I Can Do What I Want, When I Want, For As Long As I Want

When I finally got back to the hotel, I fell into my bed and took the happiest nap of my life.  I woke up at eight, got dressed and headed to Avenue des Champs-Elysées to find food. 

Wandering around Paris’s most famous street by myself was wonderful.  I stopped and watched street performers, and checked the menus at every sidewalk cafe, before settling on the Cafe George V.  My outdoor seat gave me the perfect vantage point to people-watch, and the tight seating gave me an opportunity to meet the family from Dubai seated to my right. 

Being alone meant I got to nap as long as I wanted, get dressed as quickly as I liked, eat when and where I wanted.

In the coming days, it also meant I could sit in the Musee de l’Orangerie for an hour staring at Monet’s water lilies, a floor-to-ceiling, wall-to-wall affair to lasted for two entire rooms, and then race through the Louvre as fast as my feet would carry me, my head bobbing left and right to take in as many paintings and sculptures as I could before it closed for the day.

I got to do what I wanted, when I wanted and for as long as I wanted, without worrying about anyone else’s agenda.

Time To Ponder

One of the greatest joys of traveling alone was the time it gave me to ponder. 

At work, I’m on the phone or in meetings all day long.  At home, I’ve got children who need me.  Time to ponder is a rarity.  But when you travel to a foreign country alone, you get to spend as much time thinking as you’d like.

I sat in restaurants and wrote in my journal.  I sat in museums and studied tourists as closely as I studied the master’s works of arts. 

And I thought. 

I spent hours thinking about my life.  My marriage, which had ended three years earlier.  My most recent romantic relationship, that had ended six weeks before.

My career.  My children. 

I spent hours making up entire back stories for the tourists and Parisians who crossed my path.

I’ve never spent more time thinking before or since.

Learn To Stand In My Power

When I am in my comfort zone, at work or at home with my kids, I am fearless.  It’s only when I’ve left work or home that the fear kicks in, turning my beating heart into a staccato drum solo.

Traveling Alone Regina Mae Writes.PNGGetting lost is my biggest fear, firmly entrenched in my belief that I have no sense of direction. 

My first day in Paris, after wandering around town on the bus tour, I returned to the Arc de Triomphe to catch  my bus back to the hotel.  The Arc de Triomphe is located at the end of twelve streets and faces Avenue des Champs-Elysées.  I got off the double-decker tour bus and walked down a couple of streets, trying to backtrack my way to where the local transit bus had let me off earlier in the day.

I had very carefully noted the designation on the front placard of the bus that morning. 

Charles de Gaulle Etoile.

I walked down three streets, which seemed about right to me, and approached the bus driver.

“Bonjour.  Does this bus go to Rue de Roma?”

“Non, madame.”

I walk down one more street.  Ask the same question.  This time the driver points to the next street and says, “Try that bus.”

The next bus is also a bust, and it’s right around then that I have the sickening realization that each bus is designated as Charles de Gaulle Etoile

I vaguely remember the metro lesson I got weeks earlier.  Look around the etoile at twelve streets and realize that this must be the end of the line for all of these buses.  Twelve streets, who knows how many buses, and I have no idea which bus is mine.

I stand on the street corner, the sinking feeling that I am lost rising in my chest.  Just as an anxiety attack starts to creep up on me, a taxi turns the corner.

I throw my hand up in the universal signal, and when the driver stops, I lean into the passenger-side window.

“Excusez-moi, can you take me to my hotel?”

“Oui, madame, get in.”

I give him my address and he whisks me away through the streets of Paris, pointing out the Parc Monceau where I will spend a few delirious hours my last day in Paris, and delivers me seamlessly to the front door of my hotel.

Lost Girl – 1  Paris – 0

After facing my worst fear on my first day traveling alone, I spend the next six days reveling in the feeling of not knowing where I am, but knowing I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be.  Getting lost and seeing what I find around each next corner becomes my new comfort zone.

All in all, traveling alone is the most self-empowering thing I’ve ever done.  I took many precautions and then spread my wings and flew out into the world, nobody holding me up or weighing me down.

And it was glorious.

If you’ve never taken a trip alone, I encourage you to do it.

Is there somewhere you’ve always dreamt of going and nobody will go with you?

Go alone.

You won’t regret it.

Ever Upward Regina Mae

Fifteen Hawaiian Words You Need To Learn Before Visiting Hawaii

Fifteen Hawaiian Words You Need To Learn Before Visiting Hawaii

Kiahuna Plantation Poipu Beach Kauai ReginaMaeWritesVisiting the islands of Hawaii is like visiting a foreign country.  Hawaii became a territory of the United States in 1898, and became the fiftieth state in 1959, but has managed to maintain its charming language and unique character.

The Hawaiian language is recognized as the second official state language of the State of Hawaii.  It is impossible to fully appreciate a visit to the Hawaiian islands without learning some of the Hawaiian language.

Here are the fifteen Hawaiian words or phrases which will help you most appreciate your visit to Hawaii.

Fifteen Hawaiian Words You Must Learn Regina Mae Writes.PNG

1. Ohana

Everyone who has watched Disney’s Lilo and Stitch has heard the word ohana, which means family.  In Hawaiian culture, family is everything.

Last fall, my beau and I spent two weeks on Kauai, the Garden Isle.  While we were shopping at The Koa Store in Old Koloa Town, Jon and I struck up a conversation with the clerk, a friendly Hawaiian woman in her fifties.  She and Jon recognized each other’s faces, but couldn’t figure out why. Small town life is the same all over the world, and it turns out she worked at the Kuk (pronounced “kook”) or the Kukui’ula Market, the local grocery/convenience story twenty years ago when Jon lived on Kauai.

We spent an hour talking about family, from her sister, who had moved to the mainland and longed to return to her ohana, to Jon and his sister, who were back on the island for the first time in over fifteen years.

“It’s not good to stay away from the island,” she told us.  “Family is everything, and Kauai is family.”

2. Aloha

Aloha is probably the most commonly used, but least understood, Hawaiian word.  It is used to say hello and goodbye, but its message goes much deeper than that.    

Aloha encompasses love, peace and affection. Aloha is a way of life.  To do something with aloha means to do it with your whole heart and soul.

As our Auntie Aloha explained it to us, ha is the breath of life, and Aloha means I give to you the breath of life.

3. ’Aina

‘Aina (pronounced “eye-nah”) is the land or literally, that which feeds us.  Hawaiians live outside, whether they are farming or surfing, fishing or hiking.  For most Hawaiians, there is little differentiation between themselves and the land.  The love of land, or aloha ‘aina, is a driving force in the Hawaiian culture.   Hawaiians believe that you must treat the ‘aina with respect and dignity, because it sustains you.

4.  Kama’aina

Kama’aina refers to a long-time resident or native of Hawaii, and is seen most often in the context of the kama’aina discount given to locals.  As a visitor, you don’t qualify for the kama’aina discount unless, like us, you have an Auntie Aloha on the island with you.

5. Mahalo (Mahalo Nui Loa)

Mahalo is a word you will here everywhere in Hawaii.  It means thank you, and everyone from the desk clerk at your hotel, to your server at the many yummy restaurants you will eat in, to the crew on the helicopter or catamaran tour end conversations with mahalo.  Mahalo nui loa means thank you very much, and is a phrase you will want to use often as the Hawaiians treat you with aloha love.

6.  E Como Mai

E como mai means welcome, or come on in.  It is used to invite visitors to come into your home or business.  Most businesses have a sign over their doors telling you e como mai.

7.  Pau Hana

Pau hana means done working.  You will see pau hana specials in many of the restaurants and bars you visit on the islands to celebrate happy hours.  It’s also what the locals say when they are done working for the day.

Fifteen Hawaiian Words ReginaMaeWrites

8 & 9.  Mauka and Makai

Mauka is the mountain and makai is the ocean, and both are equally majestic and equally dangerous.   Any direction you look in Hawaii will be dominated by the mauka or the makai.   Directions are often given by referring to either the mauka or the makai.

10.  No Ka ‘Oi

No ka ‘oi means nothing finer or the best. Or as my beau would say, “Nothing bettah, brah.”  On the islands, you most often see this in phrases like “Maui no ka ‘oi” or “Kauai no ka ‘oi.

11.  Menehune

Menehune are a legendary race of small people who are believed to have worked during the night building roads, fish ponds and temples.  The Menehune Fish Pond in Kauai is believed to have been built by the Menehunes thousands of years ago to act as a dam and to catch fish to feed the royal family.

12 & 13. Kapu and Heiau

Kapu means sacred or to be revered.  It is most often seen in burial grounds and sacred places.  If an area is marked kapu, you should stay out unless you have permission to enter.

A heiau (pronounced “hey-ow”) is a shrine or place of worship, or a sacred place.  Heiaus are all over the islands, and sometimes the signs are old and hard to read.  If you come across a heiau in your wanderings, please assume it is kapu and stay out of it.

14.  Pono

Pono refers to righteousness.  Living a life of pono means making correct, self-less choices every day.

The concept of pono is so important to Hawaiians that it has been incorporated into the State motto:  Ua Mau Ea o ka ‘Ana I ka Pono which means that the life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness.

Jon was raised on the island of Kauai.  The way he explains it to me, if people make the right choices, pono, about the land, the ‘aina, then the righteousness of land will be perpetuated by the righteousness of the people to insure its protection for future generations.

The Hawaiian artist Israel Kamakawiwo’ole, or Braddah Iz, sang about pono in the song Hawaii 78.  Iz sang about the Hawaiian ancesters, and imagining what they would think about the changes to the ‘aina.  It’s a hauntingly beautiful song that encourages everyone to treat the land of Hawaii with pono.

15. A Hui Hou

A hui hou means until we meet again, and so a hui hou, keep your minds and hearts,

Ever upward,

Regina Mae

The Three Best Ways to See Kauai

The Three Best Ways to See Kauai

Growing up, most of my adventures were neatly contained within the pages of the books I loved so desperately.  I easily devoured a book a day during summer vacations, loading up my little wagon with fourteen books from the mobile library to make sure I had enough to last me until its next visit to the local grocery store parking lot.

And when I ran out of books, my imagination easily took over where the books left off.

I grew up a military brat, so every couple of years we had a new home in a new state.  This constant state of flux birthed a wanderlust deep in my soul.  As an adult, I chose to grow deep roots in my beloved adopted hometown, and satisfy my wanderlust by traveling as often as I can.

Most of our trips are little weekenders to places we can get to in a few hours.  But last September, I spent two gloriously exhausting weeks on Kauai, Hawaii with my beau. He was raised on Kauai, and gave me the kind of insider’s view that most tourists, (or haoles,) never get to experience.

Plumeria ReginaMaeWrites.jpgKauai is aptly named the Garden Island.  I discovered that plumeria isn’t just a lotion sold at Bath and Body Works, but beautiful trees loaded with bright, cheery blossoms.  Awapuhi isn’t just a shampoo, but glorious white or pink flowers that grow wild along winding, dirt roads.  Driving around Kauai feels like driving around a movie set, as if the trees, bushes and flowers had been arranged just perfectly for the next scene.

Four-Wheel Drive

Many of Kauai’s exquisitely pristine locations are most easily accessible by four-wheel drive.

Kauai Mahaulepu Beach ReginaMaeWritesOne of those places is Mahaulepu Beach.  The road to Mahaulepu is a bumpy, minimally-maintained dirt cane field road that had historically been used by the sugar plantations.  After the sugar plantations stopped operations, there was little economic benefit to maintaining the road to Mahaulepu beyond the last golf course.  Even with four-wheel drive,  it is a slow, harrowing trek.

Hawaiian Monk Seal ReginaMaeWrites.jpgBut once you get there?  Then it’s just you, a local Hawaiian family picnicking and fishing, and a couple of kite surfers.  Oh, and if you’re lucky, you might see a baby Hawaiian monk seal taking a nap on the beach. 

One of my favorite spots on the island is Queen’s Pond in the Polihali State Park on the Na Poli Coast.  Queen’s Pond is a shallow, sandy-bottomed pool surrounded by a reef.  The reef makes it the only calm spot on the insanely wild Polihali beach.  Like Mahaulepu, it is located at the end of a bumpy, dirt road (about five miles long), and then down the sandy Polihali beach. 

Although the dirt road is in better condition than the road to Mahaulepu, because of the recent rainy season, the four-wheel drive made taking on the dirt road much more realistic.  It also allowed us the flexibility of driving across the sand to Queen’s Pond, after consulting with a local bruddah about how much air to take out of our tires.  (About half, if you’re curious.)

Catamaran Tour

My second favorite way to see Kauai is on a catamaran tour.  Capt. Andy’s has been providing catamaran tours of the exquisite Na Pali Coast since 1980, and was a natural choice for us because my beau’s sister, (who met us on Kauai), worked for Capt. Andy’s in the days before she had a husband and babies.

Na Pali Coast ReginaMaeWrites.jpgThe catamaran tours cover either the Na Pali coast on the north side of the island or Poipu Beach on the south side of the island, depending on the season.  We were lucky enough to hit the end of the summer season before the ferocity of the winter waves shut down the Na Pali coast tours.  There are no roads that lead to the Na Pali coast.  The only way to get there is on foot by way of the Kalalau Trail, which was named by as one of America’s ten most dangerous trails.  For the average tourist like me, that just isn’t a possibility.  But, a catamaran tour is a most excellent way of witnessing the untouched beauty of the Na Pali coast.

Helicopter Tour

Waterfall Kauai ReginaMaeWritesMy favorite way to experience the vast lushness of the island of Kauai is a helicopter tour.  Although I spent the last thirty years swearing I would never go up in a helicopter, we decided that my birthday present would be just that.

Uncle John, the barefoot pilot with Sunshine Helicopter Tours, flies a helicopter like he was born in one, and his buttery-smooth voice filled our ears with stories of Kauai for the entire tour.  They call him the Hawaiian Morgan Freeman.

My beau is the ultimate outdoorsman who walked the length and depth of the island when he lived there. And he still saw parts of Kauai that he had never seen before.  One of the most amazing sites on the tour is the Manawaiopuna Falls, which most people would recognize from the movie Jurassic Park.  Our trip was right after a particularly rainy season, and we saw more waterfalls than I could count. 

I quite literally held my cell phone under my arm, pointed it out the window, and sporadically snapped the shutter to take pictures.  And somehow ended up with the most incredible pictures of our entire two-week trip.

Our time on Kauai was simply magical, and we are already planning our next trip and new ways to experience its majesty. 

Horseback riding? 

Kayaking with the whales? 


I can’t wait to find out!

Ever Upward Regina Mae