Beginner's guide to Kauai

Get to know one of the most beautiful places in the world

Katie Tamony

Alberto is practically a fish. He grew up swimming the Mediterranean in the south of Spain. But while Alberto has lived in San Francisco for 30 years, he had never been to Hawaii. Talk about a missed opportunity: I knew this merman would love Hawaii.

I wanted Alberto to love his first trip to Hawaii. We had been together for less than a year. Bobbing in Hanalei Bay, I wanted to show him, and maybe myself, that I was up for any adventure together. I chose Kauai as Alberto's introduction to Hawaii for good reasons. I know the island well enough to play tour guide. I knew he'd have lots of opportunities to enjoy the ocean he loves. And I also thought this one island could give him a full Hawaiian experience. Kauai is exactly what people picture when they imagine Hawaii--jungles, waterfalls, cliffs dropping down to turquoise ocean.

I planned four days at a condo in Po'ipu, on the island's dry south side, and three days at the St. Regis in lush Princeville, on the northern shore. We would save money the first half of the trip, then splurge the second. Snorkeling reared its head the minute we checked into the condo. Po'ipu Beach was a short walk away, and Alberto took me over to check out the rental snorkel gear: $10 for 2 hours.

"Maybe tomorrow," I said. "Let's have a drink at the Grand Hyatt." We had our first mai tais and watched the sunset slip into the ocean from the Seaview Terrace--a perfect vision of Hawaii.