KAUAI'S BESTfrom Guava Joe
BEST BREAKFAST QUESADILLA: Hanalei Wake-Up Café ("Look for my photo on the wall."), 808-826-5551.
BEST FRESH FISH: Sushi Blues, Hanalei's best and only sushi bar/dance club. Order the Hanalei Roll: ahi, fish eggs, avocado, seaweed, 808-826-9701.
BEST PLACE TO LISTEN TO A LOCAL BAND ON A SUNDAY NIGHT: The Hanalei Gourmet, home of The Mango Brothers, an all-Hawaiian band, 808-826-2524.
WHERE YOU GO AFTER landing in the town of Lihue depends on the island experience you're after: To reach the wet, tropical side of Kauai and the dramatic Na Pali Coast, head north on the Kuhio Highway. To see the less-explored cactus-strewn desert cut by 3,000-foot-deep Waimea Canyon, follow the Kaumualii Highway west. Or, If lounging on one of Kauai's impossibly soft white-sand beaches is a priority, you don't have to go farther than Poipu, just 20 minutes from the tarmac.
WHERE TO STAY: Rent one of 48 two-bedroom condominiums at the Hanalei Colony Resort fronting the perfect beach on Kepuhe Point; $160 per night; 800-628-3004, www.hcr.com. In Waimea, book one of 53 rustic bungalows at Aston Waimea Plantation Cottages. From $215 per night; 800-992-4632, www.waimeaplantation.com.
WHERE TO INDULGE: Join the surfing crowd at Zelo's Beach House Restaurant and Grill in Hanalei for fresh-strawberry pi-a coladas and macadamia-nut-crusted ono; 808-826-9700, www.zelosbeachhouse.com. The high-end Beach House restaurant overlooks Kuhio Beach in Poipu and serves a wonderful ahi taster combo plateahi poke, ahi tostadas, and an ahi hash spring roll; 808-742-1424, www.thebeachhouse.com.
SURF: Go with Guava or one of 12 other instructors at Kayak Kauai in Hanalei; $40 per 90-minute lesson; 800-437-3507, www.kayakkauai.com.
SEA KAYAK: Paddle past 4,000-foot cliffs on the remote Na Pali Coast, arguably the world's most beautiful kayaking destination, with Outfitters Kauai; $165 per person, 888-742-9887, www.outfitterskauai.com.
HIKE: Walk the 11-mile Nu'alolo/awa'a-Puhi Loop Trail above the stunning Na Pali Coast; the $231-per-person price includes lunch, guides, and transportation; 800-437-3507, www.kayakkaui.com.
DIVE: Just outside of Haena, Tunnels Reef is a maze of caves, caverns, and lava tubes winding 60 feet below the surface of the Pacific. Call Dive Kauai scuba center in Kapaa; $98 per one-tank dive; 800-828-3483, www.dive kauai.com.