Aletha Thomas moved from Portland, Ore., to Kauai 20 years ago and hasn’t looked back. Though she originally came to the island to teach, Thomas, who lives on Kauai’s sunny south side, is now a full-time jam-maker. She started Monkeypod Jam six years ago, working with local farmers to preserve Kauai’s best fruit. Today, she makes more than 55 different seasonal preserves. Among her favourites are lilikoi curd and orange ginger marmalade, both of which are sold throughout the island and at her own Lawai café, also called Monkeypod Jam. “Everything [here] is bigger, lusher and more majestic. The biomes are so diverse,” says Thomas. 

Here are a few of Thomas’ favourite spots.

Hanakapiai Trail, Napali Coast

“When I was teaching sixth grade, we’d have outdoor school and spend three days [on the trail] each fall. We’d hike the trail, snorkel and work in the taro fields. The further you go, the less touristy it is. It’s an intense hike to the waterfall since the cliff goes straight down.”

Pono Market, Kapaa

“You wouldn’t think to stop here, but they make great Hawaiian plate lunches with laulau pork and lomi lomi salmon. It’s an institution. They started in 1968 as a meat market and became a convenience store in the 1970s. If we’re headed to the North Shore, we stop here to pick up ahi poke and musubi for a picnic.”

Hanalei Bay, North Shore

“This can get busy, but it’s my favourite beach [area]. In the summer, the water is completely flat like a lake and has a sandy bottom so sailboats and yachts will dock. In the winter, it’s a great place to surf. There are huge waves. If you go to Waikoko Beach [at the end of the bay], you really want to know what you’re doing, but it’s safe for beginners by the pier.”

Hole in the Mountain Farm, Moloaa

“I love the super-sweet Sugarloaf white pineapples grown by Paul and Jude Huber at Hole in the Mountain Farm. We make pineapple jam and frozen pineapple whip—soft-serve made from pure pineapple—at the café. You can also find these pineapples fresh at farmers’ markets around the island.”

Kiko, Kapaa

“I do all my gift shopping here. I’ll pick up tea, figurines, old-fashioned board games. You can’t find these items anywhere else in Kauai. They have driftwood fish, coconut-fibre jewelry and puka shell bangles—all made in the state.”

Getting there: WestJet’s seasonal flights from Vancouver to Kauai resume on October 29, 2016.