The long hike builds a perfect appetite for dinner, and I drive back into Hanalei Town and find an outdoor table at The Hanalei Dolphin Restaurant
, which I've been told has the island's best sushi. The restaurant is still casual Kauai, but most people pull out their designer flip-flops here. I relax in my seat on the deck and go straight for the sunset roll: a strip of ahi tuna, cucumber, avocado, white onion, and spicy aïoli topped with salmon and a thin slice of lemon.
Everything on my plate comes from this lush little island. If I concentrate hard enough, I can smell the wild ginger growing near the river, just steps away. Only a remote island, it seems, can offer such a sensual connection to the land. Sitting here at dinner is another instance like that first afternoon with Almeida and the sea turtle swim—wild, unique, and refreshing. Kauai's got that.