ELLE (UK) - - Explore - HANALEI SURF­BOARD HOUSE, hanaleisurf­board­ Dou­bles from £270, room only TAHITI NUI, MANGOLANI INN, Dou­bles from £170, room only NOUR­ISH HEALTH BAR AND CAFÉ, is­land­fresh­ 161 Hana High­way, Paia Is­land Fresh C


When it comes to peace­ful, nat­u­ral beauty, the Hawai­ians are spoilt for choice. It’s no won­der they all seem so chilled – it’s dif­fi­cult to be stressed when there’s sun, sea and surf­ing out­side ev­ery win­dow. Even the world’s worst pho­tog­ra­pher couldn't fail to take a de­cent shot – I know, I’ve tried. It’s some­thing about the dra­matic moun­tain sky­lines, the as­tound­ingly clear blue sea (a re­sult of min­i­mal plank­ton) and the sway­ing palm trees that make ev­ery­thing look Pho­to­shopped. So pre­pare to use #nofil­ter un­spar­ingly. And to lose friends.

Al­though none of the is­lands are ex­actly ugly, Kauai is hard to beat – there’s a rea­son it’s known as the Gar­den Is­land. Less busy than Maui and Oahu, it’s a lush, green isle full of chick­ens. Yes, re­ally. They es­caped from their runs af­ter a hur­ri­cane in 1992 and, as there are no nat­u­ral preda­tors, have pop­u­lated the is­land.

We fly into Kauai (via Oahu, where all in­ter­na­tional flights into the is­lands be­gin and end; on­ward do­mes­tic flights are quick and ef­fi­cient) to take in Hawaii’s old­est is­land. We drive from Li­hue air­port to the town of Hanalei in un­der an hour, hav­ing fallen in love with its end­less beach, which made more than a cameo in Ge­orge Clooney’s 2012 film, The De­scen­dants. Af­ter a white-sand stroll, we have a pas­sion­fruit mar­tini (or five) at Tahiti Nui bar, which also fea­tured in the film (lots of reg­u­lars ap­peared as ex­tras). It has a lo­cal feel, with live acous­tic gui­tar mu­sic and tra­di­tional Hawai­ian songs, and serves its own mai tai recipe for $10 a glass.

If it hadn’t been fully booked we’d be stay­ing at the quirky Hanalei Surf­board House, just mo­ments from the sand and dec­o­rated with a rain­bow of vin­tage surf­boards. As it is, we have a nose around in­stead: you can rent the Elvis or Cow­girl suites (more taste­ful than they sound), or maybe the Love Shack, which has a vin­tage Hawai­ian style and pri­vate pa­tio.

From Kaui, it’s a 45-minute flight to Maui, one of the most pop­u­lar is­lands, thanks to its com­bi­na­tion of buzzing artist com­mu­ni­ties, thriv­ing yoga scene and (there’s a pat­tern emerg­ing here) beau­ti­ful beaches. We im­merse our­selves for three nights in the warm, Glas­ton­bury-like vibe of hip­pie-packed Paia on Maui’s north coast, just a 15-minute drive from Kahu­lui air­port. It’s a small, lively town of quirky bou­tiques and bars, where surfers and Grate­ful Dead fans com­pete to see who is the most laid back. De­spite be­ing only re­ally two streets long, we find mul­ti­ple yoga stu­dios and a hip kom­bucha bar, Nour­ish, where the owner has rigged beer taps to run with jewel-bright pints for $5 a pop.

We re­turn to Is­land Fresh Café for break­fast (from $10) three days on the trot for the açai bowls and nec­tar-sweet banana-bread French toast. We gorge on whop­ping piz­zas at the Flat­bread Com­pany (from $12.75) and, the fol­low­ing day, mahi mahi bur­ri­tos ($17), a lo­cal white fish served slightly charred, at buzzy res­tau­rant Mi­la­gros. We stop for macadamia-nut ice cream at Paia Ge­lato, be­fore down­ing pints of lo­cally brewed beer at Wil­lie Nel­son’s favourite bar, Charley’s. This is not a calo­rie-light week.

The Mangolani Inn is a five-minute walk from the cen­tre and has sev­eral adorable apart­ments. The tree house, tucked into the canopy of an an­cient mango tree, is the best, and I love it from the mo­ment we ar­rive. It’s part of a house, with a back-to-ba­sics shower open to the el­e­ments – the slightly fes­ti­val vibe is part of its charm. And Glasto doesn’t have a hot tub or ocean views.





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