The most important thing to remember when visiting Kauai is that this is a highly energetic place. The climates (there are 11!), the nature, the people, are energized.
Some say the Hawaiian islands are the chakras of the world, with Kauai island in particular being seen as the third eye of the islands, a place where individuals can go to gain clarity, impart wisdom, and develop (and hopefully act on) intuition.
The beauty and magnitude of this place is unparalleled. In short, I moved here a decade ago, met Makaio, and have been able to hold someone's hand who has shown me the way of the islands. It's a place of utmost respect, and the natives of these lands have truly shown me what respect is and means. This sh*t is REAL. I cannot express this enough. I was raised in a very beautiful countryside town filled with quaint interactions, but the values that are reiterated and felt in these islands is invigorating.
Over the last decade, I've seen people come and go, businesses open and close, and projects unfold. Apparently this is how it goes LOL. These are a selection of favorites that you must discover while on island.
Black Coral Yoga: Seated mountain-side in Hanalei is quite possibly one of the most invigorating studios you will ever find. Kristen, the owner, is one of those instructors that just gets it. Her class is dynamic, transformative, and heated to the perfect temperature. As are the rest of her instructors classes. 10/10. Sign up in advance!
The Yoga Garage: Ok two things: I teach here on Tuesdays lol so come to my class. And second, prepare to sweat in this studio. By the end of (all) classes, the studio can be up to 105 degrees. The combination of infrared panels and heat produce a deeply detoxifying class. This is a Bikram, Vinyasa, and Yin studio.
Surf Into Yoga: Rochelle Ballard is a former pro-surfer and has continued her fascination with the body as a vehicle for potential, her love of the ocean, and functional movement to create Surf Into Yoga. SIY offers both private yoga lessons, surf lessons, and SUP yoga. Her wealth of knowledge of the body is something else. Book in advance on her website.
Jurassic Health Club: Newish to the island, Jurassic Health Club is a place where you should go if you're ready to do an amazing HIIT outdoor-indoor workout.
Private Yoga with Liz: Okay I know I've promoted myself now 3 times in this section, but I am an instructor and fueled by sharing my power of movement with others. I teach a challenging class that uses repetitive movement, pelvic focus, and alternations of periods of stress followed by periods of rest that help us teach our bodies to adapt to stress off the mat. Book with me and let's move.
Collab Cafe Kauai: This new Kapaa collaborative cafe concept is a collection of farmers and makers serving the best things: ice cream, coffee, and toast. Each and every maker here is committed to quality, making this one sustainable lunch spot on your way north or south.
Fish Bar Deli: Everything. Here. Is. Bomb. One of my all-time favorites on island, by FAR. Get a clean cocktail, their kale caesar, and a fried fish sandwich and thank me later.
Japanese Grandmas: Best sushi on island. Nuff said.
Kiawe Roots: This unique concept restaurant smokes their dishes with Kiawe wood, delivering a pleasant depth of flavor to everything served. I love their Tinono dishes and don't forget to start with an order of fresh chips.
Midnight Bear Breads: First things first, make sure they're open! If you're looking for delicious, local sourdough bread and the best pastries on island, look no further. < How basic was that intro! No, seriously, these people make the most delicious baked goods, sandwiches, and sourdough pizza and the atmosphere is simply situated in one of the best towns on island (Hanapepe :) )
Kauai Juice Co: A staple for stocking up on healthy grab n go items, fancy burritos, salads that slap, and of course.....fresh, local, cold-pressed juices.
Akamai Juice Co: The walk up counter Hanalei dreams are made of! This pop-up juice bar is only open during the day, and check their hours. I love their juice because it's made right in front of you, and it has some of the fiber still included which makes for the most filling juice.
Merrimans: The best Mai Tai on the island made with 100% lilikoi foam that is so good you could eat with a spoon! Take a Z biotic before you go and ask for Kat at the bar.
The Tasting Room: Please. Go drink wine here. And order the French Onion soup made with local bone broth.
Hanalei Market: Hands down the best selection of local and not-local products, grab n' go items (get the fig and turkey sub), and a beautiful coffee bar at the back of store. Find LAKA on the shelves here.
Wainiha Country Store: A curated pocket on the north-north shore! Local meats, healthy staples, and all of your picnic needs lives here. Just off the back of the market is a walk up counter, get their pulled chicken sandwich and thank me later (again).
Grove Market: This market is perfect for those staying on the south side or Lihue and wanting to access dozens of local farmers produce in one hit. A lot of the farmers take Venmo, so don't worry about bringing cash.
Anainahou Market: The best of the best pop up here! More than just farmers, this market also hosts local artists/artisans and you're sure to see tons of locals doin' their thang here to kick off their weekend (fresh).
Aloha Roastery: The nicest, most awesome set of twin brothers run this coffee chain. They arguably also have the best croissants on island. Good to know* They serve great matcha and know how to source quality matcha! Although its not LAKA, its a great plan B :)
Outpost Coffee: I am so inspired by Ben, the coffee guy behind Outpost Coffee. He has developed an incredible line of boutique coffee varieties. My favorite is the Kauai roast. They also just launched cans of Outpost nitro coffee, look for them around at local health food stores and at their Collab Cafe location.
Kauai Farmacy: Do a tea tour at their location in Kilauea and look for their line of formulas all over island. Doug, the chief farmer at the Farmacy, leads a life of purity and his intentional living practices show up the plants. Absorb, nourish, and heal here.
Moloaa Organica: Craving local produce and want to get your hands dirty? Volunteer at this farm in beautiful Moloaa and leave with a bag of produce harvested with your own hands.
Backyard To Mesa catering: Representttt. These folks are my family. Kate crafts up high-vibrational beverages (alcoholic and non) using flowers and herbs from her garden, herbal syrups, and local juices. Roel is a French-cuisine trained chef who marries his studies of Hawaiian food with his Eurpoean roots for local-inspired fare. Take a day of food off your hands and experience the nourishment of Backyard To Mesa.
Learn to surf with Hanalei Surf School: Ok there are soooo many surf schools all over island haha. But, Brittany and Evan are the best and Hanalei is the perfect place to learn how to surf. Soft, sandy bottoms and access to waves that are softcore. I don't surf really at ALL, but if I were to learn all over again, I would learn in Hanalei from this well-versed duo.
Get a stick-n-poke tat with Blob Dylan: Super random, but....sometimes its fun to visit Hawaii and get tattoos! I recently go poked by Blob Dylan at Let Love Bloom launch party. I love her style because its dainty, conservative, and not a tad tacky! Book in advance because this smoke show is crushing it lately.
Get a facial from Lau Botanicals: In addition to her line of self-formulated serums, oils, and topicals, Hillary of Lau Botanicals offers aesthetician services like facials and brow work. Her in-home studio is a destination.
Get a massage from Jessica Silvers: For years, I have put my body into Jessicas hands. She's the one to go to for any body work you may want done on island. She also offers cupping, which I highly recommend, to help flush the lymph and drain the fluids through key points on the body necessary for cleansing. She'll come to you, too! Boom.
Visit the Hindu Monastery for meditation: If you're into meditation, visit this monastery and sit in peace with the energy that filters through this portal in Wailua. You may* need to make a reservation.
1 Hotels: This hotel does an amazing job of supporting local businesses, and their amenities make you feel like your on Wellness Cloud 9. They absolutely nail the nightlife, with Welina Terrace feeling like a groovy after-hours dance spot. Seriously, get ready to get freaky. Find LAKA served here at Neighbors Cafe for your morning matcha.
The Palmwood: Give it up for Moloaa! I lived here for years and this small town has a big piece of my heart. The Palmwood is a boutique hotel with a handful of rooms in a secluded pocket of the island. Not super family-friendly, so plan for this if you're traveling with your boo or some girlfriends.
Let Love Bloom: Lindsey and Alex have done an incredible job of curating this store! All items are 100% sustainable and have a positive impact on the industry we know as fashion. I love this cute family that runs this newly launched shop and all of their items are very moderately priced which i really, really, really appreciate.
Shipwrecked: Gimme. Situated smack dab in the middle of Kapaa town is the mothership we know as Shipwrecked! Another well curated destination for poised pieces, upscale bikinis, and clean beauty.
Salt And Sea: Swimwear paradise! Maile is one of those buyers who buys with real women in mind, so be prepared to find something that fits and looks incredible on every body type. Salt N Sea has 3 locations, but I recommend the southside Kukuiula location!
Reef-safe sunscreen: More than ever, we need to preserve our oceans! Please don't come in hot n heavy with a suitcase full of reef destroying sunscreen! Harsh, but necessary. Brands we love: Ava sol, Supergoop, and Zoka.
Phone-free: This island is beautiful, but the days most memorable and special are those in honor of your nervous system. Soak up this energy, and revert back to balance with a day(s) of phone free. Nothing is that important. Re-establish yourself with Nature.
Try slow: The one thing Makaio taught me almost immediately upon moving here is that I drive entirely too fast for Kauai haha. Go the speed limit, give others the right of way, and don't drive like an asshole.
Support local: It's incredibly demanding to live out here. When you need something, try and find it locally before visiting the big box nightmares.
Avoid plastic on vacation and stock up on Meli Wraps to cover up leftovers and transport snacks for hiking, beach, and on-island commuting. This beeswax food wrap company can be found at nearly every health food store on island.