Chickens rule the roost on Kauai, so knowing their backstory is important. // © 2013 Thinkstock
The Hawaiian Islands are known for surfing, and Poipu Beach in Kauai is the perfect place to learn to hang 10. // © 2013 Thinkstock
For a different type of Kauai dining experience, head to Tortilla Republic for brunch // © 2013 Tortilla Republic Kauai
In order to relax and enjoy the laidback vibe on Kauai, head to the spa. // © 2013 Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort and Spa
So, to truly see the island, hook up with Outfitters Kauai on their Kauai Stand-Up Paddleboard Tour. // © 2013 Outfitters Kauai
It’s easy to feel at home on any of the Hawaiian Islands, but it’s particularly easy on Kauai. As one of the smaller islands, you find yourself running into people you’ve met at the beach, at coffeeshops or at the surfshop. In my case, I ran into my neighbor from L.A., who I hadn’t seen in more than 20 years. So, for those who want to truly absorb the vibe of the islands, I’ve put together a few suggestions.
1. Get to know the local Chicks. Chickens rule the roost on Kauai, so knowing their backstory is important. As the tale goes, Hurricane Iniki unleashed the cooped-up chicken population when it blew through in 1992. If you delve deeper into the lore, however, you will discover that chickens came to every Hawaiian island with the first Polynesian settlers but, unlike on other Hawaiian islands where mongoose were introduced, the only predators chasing after the chickens on Kauai are tourists.
2. Take up the local sport. The Hawaiian Islands are known for surfing, and Poipu Beach in Kauai is the perfect place to learn to hang 10. Small waves and sunny days provide an ideal atmosphere for mastering the longboard. Kauai Surf School, located on the beach at Poipu Beach Park, offers a variety of levels of instruction. Most lessons are about two hours long. The first half-hour is spent on land learning to stand up on the board. Then, guests head down to the beach and into the waves. After some brief instructions you are off, paddling into the surf. Instructors start off by giving guests a push and helping them catch their first few waves but, in no time, you will be paddling out on your own. Kauai Surf School: www.kauaisurfschool.com
3. Get a taste of island flavor. There’s no better way to get a sense of a destination than by trying some of its food. Kauai is known for its farm-to-table cuisine, and you don’t have to go far to experience it. The Beach House restaurant provides old-fashioned Hawaiian hospitality with Pacific Rim cuisine that is often locally sourced. Reservations should be made in advance since the best times — at sunset — often fill up fast. The Beach House Restaurant: www.the-beach-house.com
For a different type of Kauai dining experience, head to Tortilla Republic for brunch — like the locals do — and experience the restaurant’s recently launched breakfast menu. The cuisine comes from nearby farms that partner with restaurant co-owner Jordan James, and the breakfast features unique specialties such as the torta de huevo — a fried egg on a brioche bun with applewood smoked bacon, cheddar cheese, arugala, aioli and cheddar breakfast potatoes. Even better, top it all off with a prickly pear bellini or, for a real eye-opener, a tomate fresca, which is tequila, muddled grape tomatoes, lemon juice, habanero hot sauce and smoked maldon salt. Tortilla Republic: www.tortillarepublic.com
4. Get used to island time. In order to relax and enjoy the laidback vibe on Kauai, head to the spa. One of the best places on the island for a massage is the Grand Hyatt Kauai’s Anara Spa with its open-air showers and beautiful hale (hut) treatment rooms. The best way to get on island time is to experience a soothing spa treatment that blends local tradition with the healing powers of nature to bring your body into lokahi (harmony). Grand Hyatt Kauai: www.hyatt.com
5. Experience the latest trend. You can’t leave the island without heading into its rugged interior and what better way to experience the jungle than on a stand-up paddleboard (SUP). So, to truly see the island, hook up with Outfitters Kauai on their Kauai Stand-Up Paddleboard Tour. The half-day excursion includes a SUP lesson and a two-mile paddle downwind along a jungle stream through the Huleia National Wildlife Refuge with views of the Haupu Mountains followed by a hike through the tree-shaded forest canopy to the Blue Pool, where you can zipline into the water. Guests return via a motorized canoe. Outfitters Kauai: www.outfitterskauai.com
Once back on land, head back to the beach or grab a bite to eat. After three days on Kauai, you're bound to run into someone you know.