Kauai: Sensory Reload

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Layout from Outlooks magazine, February 2012.

Layout from Outlooks magazine, February 2012.

  Pacific waves crash onto the lava-rock shoreline just feet from our bedroom window. Their rhythmic white noise infuses the night with a lullaby from some island god. It lures us into a deep sleep and gently wakes us in the morning, just in time to see the Hawaiian sunrise-impossibly framed between swaying palms.

The smell of fresh-brewing, locally grown and roasted coffee blends into the sensory mix. My partner sneaks back from the kitchen and slips into the four-poster bed, joining me for the sunrise. I smell papaya, pineapple and passion fruit on his lips—local produce we picked up the day before at the weekly farmer's market in Lihue, the island's biggest town. We relax and savour the moment the way you should when staying at a place called Spouting Horn Cottage.

The interpret-it-how-you-will name of this beach house made it impossible to resist for a few nights' stay on Kauai. (The house is actually named for a nearby geologic formation—one of Kauai’s most famous spots, where water spouts up through holes in seaside rocks). As a property managed by gay-owned The Parrish Collection, Spouting Horn is well-maintainedand has everything we would need to live there for a while, including a south-facing patio looking out to sea where we take coffee and fruit salad in the mornings. Exhausted from our busy lives back home we are tempted—oh, so tempted—to become a pair of birds of paradise and nest here the entire trip.

That would be a mistake, at least on a first visit to Kauai, because the "garden island" turns out to be a spectacular place that evokes a bygone Hawaii.