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My Private Hawai'i

Susanna Moore, who grew up on Kaua'i, writes lyrical novels about the Hawai'i of her childhood, filled with island mythology, colors, and scents. Her Hawai'ian Trilogy includes: My Old Sweetheart, The Whiteness of Bones, and Sleeping Beauties (all published by Knopf). Some of her favorite off-the-beaten-track places:

The Academy of Art
900 S. Beretania St., Honolulu 808-532-8700
A small, light-filled museum built around several courtyards, with an especially ravishing collection of Japanese art. My father, who is a doctor, used to leave me there in the hot, hot afternoons while he made his rounds.

The Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum
1525 Bernice St., Honolulu 808-847-3511
One of the childhood places most loved, most visited, perhaps because it was there that I first literally discovered who I was and, thanks to the walls of the ethnographic and geographic maps and charts, where I was.

Broke The Mouth Cafe
1148 Bishop St., Honolulu 808-524-0355
The best local food in the islands (there is another in Hilo, Hawai'i). The name is Pidgin English for food so good that the mouth breaks with joy and overuse. Like Pidgin itself, the food is a combination of cultures-- Chinese, Hawai'ian, Portuguese, Japanese.

Hâlawa Valley
The easternmost point of Moloka'i, island of sorcery. There are two waterfalls at the back of the valley with sacred bathing pools of ice-cold water.

The loveliest, most Hawai'ian town in the islands. It is a sacred place, verdant, tropical, and the place of many old legends.

Hanakâpî'ai Trail
It begins at Hâ'ena on the island of Kaua'i where the road ends. It is a narrow, difficult trail along the treacherous Nâpali Coast, the mountains on one side, the ocean on the other. During the rainy season (early spring), it is dangerous. It once took me four hours to crawl on my hands and knees in the rain the last half-mile.

This sleepy farm town on Kaua'i sits at the mouth of a muddy river that flows through a narrow valley of taro patches and vegetable farms. There is a great bar and a general store selling rubber fishing shoes and preserved mango seed.

A sleepy, fragrant small town on the slopes of Mauna Kea on the Big Island known for its beautiful bay and orchids. It is the place where those interested in preserving the best of Hawai'i seem to settle.

The Kawaikô'i Stream
In the mountains of Kôke'e on Kaua'i, the trail winds along the bank of a stream, through stands of bamboo, cedar, wild ginger, orchids, and ferns. It is the most romantic, most perfect walk in Hawai'i.

A mile-long state beach at the westernmost end of Kaua'i.
To reach it, you drive through dry ranchland and dense cane fields. The water can be very dangerous. The sand is so hot that you must wear shoes to walk from the Keawe groves to the water's edge. At the north end, where I like to swim, are big sea turtles and sometimes sharks, perhaps because it is the ancient site of an heiau for the dead, where bodies once were thrown from the rocks into the sea below.

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Updated on April 5, 1996