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The Best Things I Ate and Drank on Kauai

As a food writer, there’s pretty much nothing I love more about a vacation than getting to try new delicacies and drinks at my destination. I recently went to the Hawaiian island of Kauai for my best friend’s wedding and absolutely fell in love with the fresh food and cocktails on the (reasonably) quiet island destination. If you plan on visiting anytime soon, here are my recommendations!

Drink some fruity, ridiculous cocktails at Lava Lava Beach Club. When you picture a Hawaiian vacation, you probably dream of a giant Mai Tai in a cup for two, with your toes in the sand, the sun warming your face, and waves crashing in the background. Well, that’s EXACTLY what you’re going to get at Lava Lava Beach Club. The scenery is unreal, the drinks are strong, and the prices aren’t bad.

The Bamboocha Mai Tai is served in a souvenir cup made for two, and it’s so amazing (strong) there’s a limit of two per person. Pair it with the sizzling shrimp for a great show. If you go for brunch, there are six amazing Bloody Mary’s to choose from. Try the Spicy Portuguese made with Stoli Jalapeno Vodka, Sriracha, Volcano Spice Rim, and a Portuguese Sausage Cheddar Skewer.

Relax in the tiki bar at Tahiti Lui. We went to the luau at Tahiti Lui in Hanalei, but I actually preferred the more laid back atmosphere at the tiki bar next door. My husband and I sipped cocktails and listened to live music, while chatting with some of the locals. Tahiti Lui opened in 1963 during the heyday of tiki bars across the United States and the genuine atmosphere does not disappoint. Try the Over the Rainbow-tini or Mai Tai if you’re looking for a true Hawaiian drink experience.

Eat some shave ice in the sunshine at the Wailua Shave Ice Truck. The minute we landed on Kauai, my husband insisted we get some shave ice. Having never had it before, I was doubtful it was worth possibly making us late for our dinner. I hate to say it: But, boy, was I wrong.

It’s hard to describe exactly what makes shave ice so wonderful. It’s nothing like a sno-cone, which is what I was expecting. The tiny shaves of ice soak up whatever flavor you add like magic, making a creamy, refreshing, decadent dessert that even beats out ice cream. (Something I never thought I would write.) We tried the Almond Joy made with almond milk, coconut milk, shaved coconut, and nutella. My only regret was not getting two.

Buy at least a pound of Ahi poke from The Fish Market in Kapa’a. My name is Jenny, I’m a food writer, and I don’t really like raw fish or sushi. There, I said it.

I let you know that so you understand how magical the Ahi poke was at The Fish Market in Kapa’a for it to make this list. The fish is so fresh and buttery, it was truly like nothing I had ever had before. It’s paired with a simple, but sophisticated-tasting sauce made with rice vinegar, soy sauce, Dijon mustard, and sriracha. (Tip: You can put that sauce on almost anything to make it extra delicious.) We also paired it with some rice crackers for a little extra crunch. I’m drooling just thinking about it.