By Léo Azambuja

Our group prior to tackling Kukui Trail’s steep descent to Wiliwili Camp in May. Left to right, Asia Kellerman, David Carr, Ruby Pap, Bella Kellerman, Bright Krinsky and Léo Azambuja.

Summer is here! Well, almost. Summer solstice, which marks the onset of summer, is June 21 but we can already start to enjoy more beach time and hotter, longer days.

There are number of fun things you can do to maximize your summer, if you don’t already do them. This is my top-five list:

1- Surfing. If you don’t already surf, summer is a good time to learn how to catch your first wave. Any time is actually a great time to start surfing, because it’s always a good day when you surf. But the summer offers south swells that wrap gently into Nawiliwili Bay. Those waves in front of the Kaua‘i Marriott Resort are gentle enough for beginners and fun enough for intermediate and experienced surfers. And the mood of the crowd in the water is always very friendly.

2- Hiking. Summer is one of the best seasons to hike on Kaua‘i. Just make sure to have enough water, because it gets really hot here, even on the trails in Koke‘e. One of my favorites, and to me the hardest trail to do in the summer, is the Kukui Trail, descending almost 2,000 feet into Wiliwili Camp in Waimea Canyon. The descent is hard on your knees, and if you go too fast downhill, your knees will scream bloody murder when you climb back up. Other favorites of mine are the Sleeping Giant Trail in Wailua and the Alaka‘i Swamp in Koke‘e.

3- Koloa Plantation Days. It’s one of the best and longest running festivals on Kaua‘i — 34 years on the run. For 10 days in July, the festival offers a parade, music, food, entertainment, movies, a rodeo, street vendors, cultural activities and more. This year marks the 20th edition of the festival’s rodeo, and I’m sure organizers will make this a special anniversary event.

4- Bon Dances. May 31 marked the start of Bon Dance season on Kaua‘i. Every weekend during the course of two months, a different Buddhist temple hosts a bon dance, with the exception of the weekend following Fourth of July. For those unaware of Buddhist learning, a bon dance is a fun and cultural experience. But for those following Buddha’s teachings, going to a bon dance is a joyful and spiritual experience — you get to dance and connect with the souls of your loved ones who have already passed away.

5- Camping. This is definitely one of my favorite things to do on Kaua‘i, whether it’s at the beach or in the mountains. The good thing about summer camping in Koke‘e is that it is less rainy and not so cold. In Polihale, my favorite camping spot, it can get quite hot, though. My plan is to arrive in the afternoon (always with a cooler stocked with cold drinks and Ishihara Market poke), get a good surf session in, waves permitting, and set up camp before dark. Then surf early in the morning, eat breakfast, pack up, surf again and leave. And don’t forget to book camping permits.

Have a great summer!