THE PALMWOOD, KAUAI

Until recently, my experience with Kauai had been a sheltered one. Stuffed in to a golf resort with no wheels to get around, I had been bound to the local Princeville tourist beach and was ambivalent to ever returning. So, when an unexpected Kauai trip arose I decided to change things up and started by booking myself in at The Palmwood.

A simple drive north from Lihue airport gets you to The Palmwood (there's only one road to navigate the island so you won't get lost). A bespoke lodge with only three rooms, nestled high up in North-East Kauai, I was ready to switch off and explore.

Napping, reading and soaking up the sun are all encouraged with a spot to sit around ever corner. Staying on the ground floor in the East Room, I had views of the terrain from my hammock. And I didn't have to share it with the crowds.

The Palmwood hosts, Eddi and Mychael curate your experience by giving you a taste of what Hawaiian life really is. Tailoring your days around swimming in hidden beaches, finding marine life and local food spots, it was knowledge far off the beaten track any concierge could have given me. A service is on hand for helicopter and coastal tour bookings, should you require it.

The included breakfast is served in the adjoining pavillion and varies each day. Chorizo with sweet potato was a favourite, served with a white pineapple and avocado salad. While there isn't a range of juices or a spread of breads and cereals, it was a great, light start to the day. A fridge is provided, so stock up at the local market if you prefer the basics.

My East Room was snug but a comfortable island base. Equipped with a shower-over-bath, loads of hanging space and double doors leading to it's own patio, it was warm (no air-con) but airy and tranquil. Towels were plentiful and a fragrant mangosteen body wash was provided keeping you in touch with hotel life.

Cooling off was made that much better with the East Room's outdoor shower. In fact, it became such a ritual my jacuzzi went untouched.

Entering via the ground level is The Palmwood's communal guest area. With eclectic island furnishing in dark wood and leather, the lounge and dining areas lead outside to the lodge's best asset; a 180 degree panoramic verandah. Lush, green and uninterrupted.

As sunrise crept through the palm trees, packing my bag for a day trip to the Na Pali Coast, I was relieved I wasn't in the bustle of a bigger resort. The Palmwood felt like my home and Kauai was my island.

CHECKING-OUT DEBRIEF
FEEL: No make-up, no shoes.
ROOM PICK: Upper Suite (for air-con and a King bed)
WIFI: Yes, complimentary.
RATES: Starting from $295 USD with breakfast inclusive.
CHILDREN: Sure but Kauai is an island for lovers.
MINI BAR: The tap water is drinkable and a fridge/BBQ is on hand for all your food and beverage needs.
GETTING THERE: Hire a car. It's a must in Kauai.

I stayed courtesy of The Palmwood.
www.thepalmwood.com