Senior Concierge Leilani Cabais and the concierge team at The St. Regis Princeville Resort shares the most breathtaking spots that Kauai has to offer.- By Hannah Ostrow
With 16 years of concierge experience at Starwood properties, Senior Concierge Leilani Cabais has cultivated a keen familiarity of the distinctive activities on the Hawaiian Islands. Here, she draws on her years of knowledge, recommending the best places to explore, dine and shop to take full advantage of all Kauai has to offer.
“You are never too young or too old to learn how to surf,” Cabais promises, and given that the later months in the year actually bring the best surf, there’s never been a better time to test the waters. Surf schools like HAWAIIAN SURFING ADVENTURES offer lessons in traditional surfing and standup paddleboarding, which, Cabais says, is the most popular selection. “It’s lots of fun and a core workout to say the least,” she adds. (5134 Kuhio Hwy., Hanalei; 808-482-0749; hawaiiansurfingadventures.com)
For those who prefer land to ocean, PRINCEVILLE RANCH ADVENTURES boasts nine zip lines, including the 26-foot-high and 1,200-foot-long “King Kong” line. Along with the zip lines, Princeville Ranch also includes a suspension bridge, a waterfall and a swimming hole. Cabais recommends the Zip n’ Dip excursion and Jungle Valley Adventure for children under 12. (5-4430 Kuhio Hwy., Hanalei; 808-826-6777; princevilleranch.com)
For a special present, Cabais recommends Van Balen Fine Jewelry, located at The St. Regis Princeville Resort. From Tahitian black pearls to golden South Sea pearls, bring a gift from Kauai home. (808-826-6555; majesticgemskauai.com)
Head to Hanalei on the North Shore for antiques, gifts and other unique memoirs. “YELLOWFISH TRADING CO. sells vintage items from Hawaii—everything from vintage ‘aloha’ shirts to items for your home, like lamps, books and wood-carved items,” she says. (Hanalei Center, 5-5161 Kuhio Hwy., Hanalei; 808-826-1227)
The owners of HAVAIKI OCEANIC & TRIBAL ART spent five years sailing around Polynesia and Oceania on their 84-foot Ketch, collecting merchandise for their North Shore shop. “Some are one-of-a-kind collectibles. Rich in culture, [Havaiki is] a must-see shop in Hanalei,” Cabais says. (Hanalei Center, 5-5161 Kuhio Hwy., Hanalei; 808-826-7606; havaikiart.com)
A photograph of a breathtaking view can capture all the indelible aspects of a vacation —the calm, the ubiquitous beauty—that souvenirs and gifts can’t memorialize. For extraordinary photographs and views, head to the historic KILAUEA LIGHTHOUSE to see impressive views of the North Shore and the Pacific. “You will be captivated by its surrounding beauty of the Kilauea crater, one of the oldest volcano caldera on Kauai,” Cabais says. (3500 Kilauea Rd., Kilauea; 808-828-0384; kilauealighthouse.org)
THE HANALEI VALLEY LOOKOUT, off Kuhio Highway in Princeville, offers stunning views of the Hanalei River and 180 acres of taro fields. The valley is 917 acres, 75 of which are wildlife preserves harboring the largest population of native wetland birds. Cabais also suggests the panoramic views of Hanalei Bay that can be appreciated from within the St. Regis resort.
“Have an Aloha Mary drink or a specialty cocktail at THE ST. REGIS BAR overlooking Hanalei Bay, and [watch] the huge winter swells roll [as] some of our world-champion surfers ride some of the most powerful waves in the Hawaiian Isles,” she says. (808-826-9644; stregisprinceville.com/dining)
For a taste of Kauai’s inimitable culture, look no further than the St. Regis’ own MAILANI DINNER SHOW, a seasonal offering on the Makana Terrace on Thursday evenings. The St. Regis culinary team creates a variety of Hawaiian, Polynesian and fusion dishes, while choreographer Mi Nei Oliver highlights local culture through traditional song and dance. “While you are enjoying the food and dance, one cannot help but be mesmerized by the beauty and splendor of Hanalei and Mt. Makana,” Cabais says. (808-826-2746; stregisprinceville.com/dining)
More informal diners can head to the HANALEI TARO & JUICE CO.’s lunch spot in downtown Hanalei. Here, the family-owned farm offers an array of local favorites using their central crop, taro, a starchy root that is the basis of much of Hawaiian cuisine. Cabais’ favorite? Kulolo, a dessert pudding made from taro, coconut milk and sugar. (5-5070 Kuhio Hwy. #B; 808-826-1059; hanaleitaro.com)