Travel

The Descendants author on Hawaii

Kaui Hart Hemmings is the best-selling author of Hawaiian-based family drama The Descendants, which has just been made into a critically acclaimed film starring George Clooney. Here, she introduces Stylist to her favourite places on the island where she and her family live, and where she wrote The Descendants. She's also perused through her album to share some personal photos of Hawaii's incredible beach and mountain scenery - plus snaps of her family (and dog!) taking to the waves. Read on to find out more about Kaui's "real" Hawaii - a million miles away from the tourist trail...

Kaui Hart Hemmings is the author of The Descendants (Vintage). The film adaptation, The Descendants, starring George Clooney, is released in the UK on 27 January

1. Kailua Beach

This sprawling beach accommodates all kinds of appetites. You can enjoy peaceful solitude or have an action-packed beach day with friends, kids, dogs. Some people kite surf, some kayak or canoe paddle out to the Mokulua islands, while some just soak in the sun with a good book. The ocean here is enlivening. My dog and daughter can often be seen boogie-boarding (pictured, second below).

2. The Pali Lookout

A perfect place for panoramic views of Kailua town, the Windward coast, and the sharp, sheer cliffs of the Ko’olau Mountains. I love the climate and the wind here, the old highway, and the visceral sense of history. It’s the site of the Battle of Nu’uanu where King Kamehameha conquered and united the chain of islands. The unfortunate losers were pushed off the cliff.

3. Hanalei Bay

A crescent-shaped bay on Kauai’s North coast, with dramatic, green mountains soaring at the helm. My favourite days are spent here. First walking on the stretch of beach, then fish tacos at the food truck and shave ice, followed by surfing by the pier (ideal for kids) and happy hour at Tahiti Nui.

Photo below shows Kaui's son and husband going to surf on Christmas day.

4. Mount Olomana

A rigorous hike with a variety of views: Maunawili, Kailua, Waimanalo, my house and neighborhood, my grandmother’s house where I set my novel (The Descendants). The last stretch of this hike is difficult and dangerous, and when you get to the top you feel like you’re standing on a mere slice of land. I like being overwhelmed by nature, yet managing it in some way. The best experiences have to involve a little amount of risk and exclusivity.

Photo below shows a view of Mount Olomana from Kaui's backyard

5. Kaimuki Restaurants

On the island of Oahu I suspect that most tourists don’t venture to Kaimuki for their dining experiences. But some of the best restaurants are here in this tight-quartered melting pot. Indian, Mexican, Vietnamese, Thai, French, Italian. My favourites are Town (pictured below) and 12th Avenue Grill.