I remember back on the North Shore Stephanie Kaluahine Reid had talked about the feeling of unity on Kauai and the Hawaiian word she used for it, “kakou—the power of we.” And that’s been my experience here, from the Nashes up north and Agnes Marti-Kini, in Anahola, to Ed Justus in the west and dozens of others. That strong sense of community, of “us”—it exists on all the islands, but here I’ve found it to be a dominant force, a motivating code. It’s something that exists beyond the mere physical beauty, and goes to the heart of the island and the commitment people have to it, and to one another.
Auntie Rose returns. She tells me that the daily specials are the same as the day before. Then she leans close and confides, “I thought you’d be back tonight, so I had them put aside an ahi poke appetizer.” It’s all I need to hear to feel Kauai’s pull.
Actor, director, and writer Andrew McCarthy is a frequent contributor to Travel + Leisure.