oh, hey 2012… kinda snuck up on me there.
hard to believe that almost a full year has slipped by since our father-daughters’ jaunt across the kauai north shore – which, as it turns out, followed just steps behind a somewhat familiar storyline.
if there’s any consolation to barely missing a hanalei town run-in with george clooney (and friendly locals so loved to teasingly remind us) during filming of The Descendants, it’s this: from jewel-tone hills and red clay trails to wide, golden beaches - in real life, kauai’s raw talent far outshines any hollywood lens.
watch this award season’s Best Picture, then trace the footprints of kauai’s local crowd to my favorite scene stealers. wherever you go, it’s easy to feel like ohana – family.
1. Tahiti Nui – cast and crew “had a few mai tais” at this hanalei hometown dive, affectionately known as ‘da nui.’ you’ll love the laid-back vibe, local ukulele bands and rowdy group of regulars (including Descendants’ costar beau bridges) doing the same inside the warm, bamboo-thatch bar.
2. Hanalei Bay – sleepy beach bungalows, surf shacks and local shops dot this wide, sandy crescent of kauai’s north shore, which played a starring role alongside the luxe St. Regis Princeville Resort. head to the St. Regis Bar or outdoor Makana Terrace for drinks with a sunset backdrop that rivals any big screen.
3. Kipu Kai - just as isolated and pristine as its film depiction, the former sugarcane plantation south of Lihue called Kipu Ranch is still owned by descendants of William Rice, who bought the land from Hawaii in the 1870s. ATV tours by Kipu Ranch Adventures stop at the Haupu Ridge overlook and Kipu Kai beach, which is only accessible by boat.
4. Shave Ice Paradise - stop in to this hanalei town staple after a morning at Lumahai beach. personal picks: macadamia nut ice cream or the bali hai sunset – mango, liliko’i (passion fruit) and li hing mui (asian plum).
5. Kalalau Trail – jaw-dropping scenery along the lush Na Pali coast makes the first two miles of this strenuous trek to Hanakapi’ai beach oscar-worthy. adventurers can continue the 11-mile hike along sheer sea cliffs to Kalalau Beach, with a camping stop in Hanakoa Valley.