Heels & Picks: Time to unwind

Aug. 19, 2014 | 0 Comments


The author and her boyfriend. Photo by John Beaton.


The author and her boyfriend.

BY ERIN SMITH / Special to the Star-Advertiser

“Hey Erin, you live in paradise.”

This is something I have to tell myself from time to time. Don’t get me wrong, I gasp at the beauty of the mountains as I drive over the Pali to Honolulu, and marvel at the coast when I drive from Kailua to Hawaii Kai. I jump in the ocean and let the island breeze blow through my hair. Everyday something takes my breath away on this island of Oahu.

But do I live the idyllic life of a relaxed, two-siestas-a-day islander? Not really.

I’m not totally devoid of regular island moments; I do go to the beach every week with my boyfriend T, short for Trouble. He is a beach baby and we go to Kalama Beach, which is close to our cottage in Kailua, every single weekend.

What I haven’t been doing lately is letting my voicemail pick up when I’m enjoying some downtime, like a sunset picnic at Lanikai, hiking or whatever else that allows some room in my schedule to live that island life.

Those of us who reside in Hawaii know the drill. Part of the reason it’s difficult to relax is because the cost of living in Hawaii is really high. For my particular little life, I am somewhat of a renaissance woman and spend my days singing, writing, styling, rehearsing, performing and attending events. This lifestyle requires a bit of odd scheduling; you have to piece things together.

So how to get yourself into a relaxed mode? Most islanders know this one as well — just have a friend from the continent come to visit!

My boyfriend has a core group of best friends, and one of them is staying with us for a couple of weeks. One of the most wonderful parts of living in Hawaii is that there are many places of great beauty and exhilarating adventures you can go on and it doesn’t cost a thing. That’s the trade off for the high cost of living. Sure, peanut butter costs $8 a jar, but the view from the top of pillbox hike overlooking Lanikai is priceless.

With someone here to entertain and have fun with, I’ve been getting my island girl back on track this week. Here are some of my top tips for unwinding on Oahu.

Cockroack Cove on a Sunday, photo by John Beaton


Cockroach Bay on a Sunday.


Of course, when I advise you to jump off a cliff, I mean a cliff overlooking the ocean. It doesn’t have to be a high one; a few feet will do just fine. Make sure you’re landing in deep enough water, don’t have your back to the ocean and all of the other important water-safety pointers. Jumping off a rock and into the ocean is good for the soul.

On Sunday, I held hands with my boyfriend and jumped off of a small cliff at Cockroach Bay in Waimanalo. The water was turquoise and frothing white on the edges, like jagged lace. We laughed and swam and enjoyed our island paradise, totally lost in the moment.

Next on the vacation agenda, or the vagenda (hmmm, I think we may need to come up with a better name), was a sunset hang at China Walls. We took our beach chairs and the picnic basket my boyfriend got for me in wine country, sipped wine and jumped off an even bigger cliff.

This time, when it was my turn to go, I had to jump before my boyfriend and have him follow me in so I wouldn’t wimp out and just stand on the cliff for the rest of my life.

Sunset at China Walls is astoundingly lovely. The light hits people’s faces in such a way that the entire crowd looks painted on, as if they were on a canvas. We always end up chatting with random people, usually older uncles as we call them around here, who live in the area. They are kind, quick to point out ways to improve ocean safety and generally have great stories to tell. I recall one trip with my boyfriend and our parents where my dad took his ukulele and joined in with another group who were playing close by. These are magical moments.

As it turns out, our friend who is staying with us is incredibly gifted at panoramic shots on his iPhone. Our day is well documented and the photos are just stunning. Some of them will be framed.


This week has seen the three of us in many heated discussions about music. Questions like “What are your top ten albums of all time?” and “Which George Michael song is the best?” have been coming up all week. (For the record, the best George Michael song is “Freedom ‘90.” End of discussion.)

Get your playlist in check for your island adventure, or at least have a friend who is good at controlling the iPod to play DJ in the car.

For our road tripping this week, some of my favorite musical selections have been Billy Joel, Paramore, “Cry to Me” from the “Dirty Dancing” soundtrack, Prince, Flight of the Conchords and, of course, George Michael.

We sang along together in the car, clucked like a chicken to Beyonce’s “Crazy In Love” and just generally had a great time.


Do you really have to take that call, right now? Or answer that text? Probably not.

In my field, generally when I get a phone call, it’s an opportunity. I tend to have to jump on it to make sure the person who is offering knows that I am interested.

I also have people waiting on me for something, pretty much at all times.

This makes it hard to just put the phone aside, though my boyfriend routinely takes our phones and puts them in the other room when we are at home so that we can just unwind properly.

When you are taking time to relax in the islands, weigh the necessity for the call against the ocean you are gazing at as you laugh and enjoy your time with loved ones. Chances are, the buggah can wait for a few hours, or maybe even until the next day.

Photo courtesy of John Beaton



I love Lanikai. I’ve had really amazing moments there — night beach time with my boyfriend, favorite family photos of our kisses on surfboards and snuggles at sunset, running races with our nephews, hang time with our sisters.

I rarely go to Lanikai these days, mostly because we enjoy riding our bikes and Kalama Beach is two blocks away from home. Lanikai is also a tourist hub and visitors flock there on the weekends to take in the majesty of it’s white sand and clear turquoise waters.

With a visitor to show around, of course we headed to Lanikai. Armed with sunscreen and Maui Babe browning lotion, we swam and sunned. It was a Tuesday, so the crowds were not too bad, and it reminded me that it’s worth it to take the drive every now and again to enjoy a favorite location.


In this department, I am a little more on the ball. I eat poke all the time and really love all of our fresh island fish, fruits and vegetables. I like to try new restaurants and we cook fresh island food at our cottage all the time.

There are several amazing sushi restaurants on Oahu, and we’ll definitely be visiting Doraku or Sansei this week. Anyone who has lived on Maui has clocked some time at Sansei in Kihei. Rock shrimp dynamite and panko crusted ahi? Yes, mahalo.

Another foodie moment was at Yogurstory, Honolulu’s popular breakfast stop. Before I moved from Maui to Oahu, I would see my Oahu friends posting photos of Yogurstory’s red velvet pancakes on Facebook. Now that I live in Kailua, Yogurstory is worth a trip over the Pali for some grinds. Our favorite this time around was the taro latte. Sweet, refreshing and purple in color, it’s a standout signature drink.

Poke and cucumbers in a picnic basket at sunset, pupus from the new bar menu at Kailua’s Whole Foods Market and poi donuts at a friend’s house gathering have also been favorites of the last week.

For all of you out there, who are on the hustle and bustle side of island living, this is Erin signing off to go enjoy some more relaxation time. As my boyfriend says, you’re working so hard, but what for?

Balance has never been, nor will it likely ever be, my middle name, but here’s to trying.
Erin Smith is a singer and guitarist who performs as a solo artist and with Maui-based Na Hoku Hanohano Award-nominated band The Throwdowns. Born in Canada, she moved to Hawaii in 2004 and now resides in Kailua. Contact her via e-mail or follow her on Twitter.

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