The wise F. Scott Fitzgerald once said, “with people like us, our home is where we are not.” And for wandering souls like us, home is often the last place we’d like to be. We are a rare breed plagued by the urge to travel – filled with a strange desire to pass the time in airplanes, ubers and foreign beds, and a longing to wander down unmarked streets and swim in tropical seas. When we are at home, we are restless, anxiously searching for our next escape and impatiently waiting to book the next ticket to elsewhere.
During this recent trip to Kaua’i, something dawned on me – the difference between a house and a home. A house is merely a dwelling – a base and a place of being – while home is rather a feeling. Not to dispute the great Fitzgerald, but for wanderers like us, home is our only constant. We are in our element at 35,00 feet, underwater, in deserts and in transit, forced to adapt and find home in the foreign lands where we often unexpectedly find ourselves.
When we pulled up to the entrance of The Palmwood in Moloa’a on Kauai’s North Shore, something already felt like home. A sign on the porch welcomed us by name, as did our host, one of The Palmwood’s proprietors, Mychael Henry. We kindly, per custom, removed our shoes and entered into the airy living room, exhausted yet restless from a day of traveling. The heaviness of the humidity began to sink in but we were too curious to care. We knew our time here was temporary and our hungry eyes (and stomachs) were set on exploring Kaua’i. Thankfully, we had both of these needs met with Mychael as a talented chef and thoughtful guide.
Together, “Auntie” Eddi and her son Mychael have curated a rare stay that is centered around experiences. No two travelers will ever pass through The Palmwood quite the same, as each experience is crafted for the traveler’s intent. Of course, there are the amenities of the property itself – lush palms and native flora spanning a 5-acre oasis, outdoor showers that overlook breathtaking views of the distant mountains, a cozy firepit mirroring equally as epic of views, single speed bikes made for exploring, and of course, Instagram’s arguably most famous red hammock.
But these are just the practical amenities. Close your eyes at night listen to the soft hiss of the wind as it rustles through the palms. You’ll awaken to the sound of wild roosters and the smell of of Mychael’s linguica sizzling in a cast iron skillet downstairs, mouth salivating from the scent of buttery croissants and caramelized bananas baking in the oven. Here is the feeling of home.
After breakfast, Mychael joins us to explore the island’s less-traveled beaches, scouting locations for our shoot with CULT MUSE Mahina Alexander. We pull off on the side of the road intermittently to climb barefoot down the sandy ridges onto the beach, and end our day at the entrance of Na Pali Coast State Park to hike a few miles of the Kalalau Trail. We take note from Mychael and hike barefoot, trying our best to acclimate as a local would.
And perhaps this is The Palmwood’s best amenity of all – the knowledge of the island and care that Eddi and Mychael have for making each guest’s trip to Kaua’i truly memorable. As I look back through these photos and recount the week to write this, I find myself homesick. I watch the memories replay on the back of my eyelids and scratch at what’s left of my mosquito bites. I miss the heavy air and the sound of the palms, the smell of breakfast and our morning runs to the beach.
The Palmwood was our home – if only briefly.