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

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