The Hawaiian island of Kaua'i is widely known for its secluded beaches, a warren of nature trails inside Waimea Canyon State Park, and idyllic underwater scenery. But there are treasures to be found on the plate as well--specifically, if you happen to have a sweet tooth. From roadside custards to tropical French pastries to taro-root pancakes, here are six of the varied and delicious desserts available on Kaua'i.
|Cakes by Kristin – Honey Mac Tart|
In the historic town of Kapa'a, visitors will find no shortage of boutiques selling souvenir t-shirts, seashell leis and other tchotchkes. But in the back of the Kinipopo Shopping Village, one upscale bakery is creating sophisticated desserts you may prefer to smuggle past airport security. Sourcing ingredients from local farms and producers, some of Pastry Chef Kristin Leikam's most popular items include a multi-tier Lilikoi Grand Marnier Cake, a pineapple crostata whose shape recalls a miniature volcano, and a honey macadamia tart that balances the sweet floral bouquet of McPhee's Bees honey with earthy, mild macadamia nuts inside of a buttery pie crust.
|Wishing Well – Shave Ice|
Shave ice, the Southeast Asian dessert combining snow-like balls of ice flavored with fruit juices, sweetened condensed milk, and other toppings, is ubiquitous in Hawaii. But Wishing Well, a stall based out of a white food truck permanently parked in Hanalei, is one of the oldest and best purveyors, attracting locals, tourists and celebrities alike. For an extra indulgence, ask for macadamia nut ice cream on the bottom or a spoonful of halo halo—a combination of jackfruit, coconut and boiled adzuki beans.
|Kilauea Bakery – French Pastries with a Twist|
After touring the Kilauea Lighthouse and National Wildlife Refuge on the North Shore, treat yourself to a few desserts at neighborhood favorite Kilauea Bakery. Pastry chef and owner Tom Pickett reinvents traditional French pastries by using tropical ingredients, such as a profiterole bursting with tangy, whipped lilikoi custard or an éclair injected with rich, coconut crème, then lacquered in dark chocolate and dusted with coconut flakes.
|St. Regis Princeville – Dessert for Breakfast|
Replete with lush hillsides and sandy beaches, the scenery in Kaua'i is a feast for the eyes. And you can drink in one of the most arresting views over breakfast at the St. Regis Princeville's Makana Terrace. The Taro Pancakes, studded with chopped macadamia nuts, coconut flakes and sliced strawberries, are a sweet antidote for any experiments with poi gone astray. Bathe the stack in house-made coconut syrup, pair with an Aloha Mary, and see if you don't reconsider life on the mainland.
|Banana Joe's Fruit Stand – The Frosty|
If sampling local desserts is at odds with your swimsuit, try this guilt-free treat on for size. The custard-like Frosty at Banana Joe's roadside fruit stand on the North Shore contains zero dairy or sugar. Joe Halasey takes chunks of frozen pineapple and frozen bananas, then runs them through a Champion juice processor to create the miraculously creamy and cold confection.
|Nanea at The Westin Princeville Ocean Resort Villas – Chocolate Lumpia|
Why this dessert is only served during lunch service is a mystery, but consider yourself warned and order the Chocolate Lumpia well in advance. While the traditional version of these Filipino eggrolls are typically filled with meat or sweet potato, here they are delicately stuffed with chocolate then fried to create a crunchy shell and silky interior with bits of macadamia nut thrown in for an extra layer of deliciousness.