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The Surreal Allure of Kauai, Hawaii’s Greenest Isle

By Andrew Richdale

May 21, 2014

From the June/July 2014 issue

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Photo courtesy of U.S. Geological Survey

You could do Maui and Oahu again. Or shake up your Hawaii routine, like senior editor Andrew Richdale did, with this less-frequented alternative.

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This is how my friends reacted when I told them I was going to Kauai: A) “That’s not how you say it,” (It’s kuh-WHY-ee) and B) “Oh, the greenest isle.” What they didn’t tell me, though, was that the Na Pali Coast and nearby Waimea Canyon (pictured), Hawaii’s answer to the Grand Canyon, had colors so trippy they looked like they came from a Crayola box. Or that even the drive from the airport to the north shore, where I stayed, would be surrounded by the most mutantly lush greenery I’d ever seen.

Then there was the utter lack of crowds. It was so peacefully quiet at the St. Regis Princeville the night I watched the sunset from their bar that I practically meditated while drinking a cold one. And every beach my friend took me to felt like a secret. In fact, my favorite was even named—wait for it!—Secret Beach. The name refers to the short plow through towering grass that conceals smooth sand and whirling tide pools. On my way there, I hopped in a Jeep; blasted one of the local Jawaiian stations, which sound like Bob Marley hula dancing; and picked up my weeklong obsession, the fish tacos from Pat’s Taqueria, made with flaky marlin and tortillas that are flash-fried for a chewy crunch.

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My brightest memory took place in the jungle. On my last day, a crew of locals took me to Kilauea’s Slippery Slide, a naturally eroded chute 15 feet above a waterfall. In that pause before I went flying off a boulder into the lagoon, I can’t say exactly what I was thinking about—except to say, not going home to New York.

Discover 16 more Kauai adventures.

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