The soul of Hawaii calms down: The island of Kauai is pure family magic

The soul of Hawaii calms down: The island of Kauai is pure family magic

The pilot has an important announcement as we circle Kauai, part of the Hawaiian island chain. "Hang tight people together, the ground crew is clearing a chicken off the runway."

Of course they are. Because this is a place of untouched natural beauty, complete with cloud-covered rainforests, raging waterfalls, mystical sea cliffs – and overgrown chickens.

People come to embrace the elements, feel spiritual at sunset, and shoot movies (Johnny Depp swayed on the beaches of the Napali coast at Pirates Of The Caribbean), but as a family we would like to embark on an adventure before leaving on Waikiki beach on the neighboring island Oahu.

Mystic: The rugged coast of Napali on the north coast of Kauai

Mystic: The rugged coast of Napali on the north coast of Kauai

Mystic: The rugged coast of Napali on the north coast of Kauai

Fortunately, it's 200 miles out of reach of the erupting Kilauea volcano on the Big Island.

Hawaii lies in the middle of the Pacific and is the most isolated, inhabited landmass in the world. It is near the dateline in its own time zone (three hours behind the US West Coast) and is the last stop before tomorrow.

With only 65,000 inhabitants, there are more pigs than on Kauai. Things are moving souls slowly. Do not expect that you'll rush the girl in the Banana Joe supermarket in Kilauea and have your green juice whiz in the morning.

Although there is a funky atmosphere in Hanalei Town – surfboards, food trucks and possibly the best bakery in the Pacific – it's so relaxed that you spend the night with your kids around 10pm.

The indigenous people, the Kanaka Maoli, are an incredibly soulful people with wise, broad foreheads, disarming smiles and friendly eyes.

Unfortunately, there are only a few, thanks to Hawaii's first tourist, Captain Cook, who dropped anchor at Waimea Bay in 1778 and brought Western diseases that destroyed the population, which was then estimated at about half a million people, though now at 8,000 offspring is today.

What has developed since then is a cultural mash-up. The fourth-generation Japanese, Chinese, and Filipinos (who were planted in the 19th century to cultivate the sugar plantations) are juxtaposed with Haole's white people – mostly American creatives: writers, poets, surfers, hippies, and dreamers

Theoretically, this is America – Hawaii was annexed in 1959 as the 50th state. But there is no shopping center or highway in sight, 70 percent of the island is inaccessible by foot and there is only one coastal ring road, which is currently interrupted on the highway's westernmost route by mudslides.

The sign for Whales, the second highest point of the island and one of the wettest spots in the world

The sign for Whales, the second highest point of the island and one of the wettest spots in the world

The sign for Whales, the second highest point of the island and one of the wettest spots in the world

If you want to explore the interior, a deadly, slippery rope that locals call Hawaiian Ice, a guide is recommended.

We make arrangements with Purekauai.com, a concierge service founded by local Mr. Fix-it, Phil Jones. He manages a team of guides and provides access to the island's most exclusive rental apartments.

We choose Sea Song, a sprawling Asian-style property on a secluded bluff on the North Shore (actor Pierce Brosnan lives a few bays away). I can not stop pawing at the Knockout lookout points as the kids – Grace (seven years old) and Georgia-Mae (six years old) – enjoy the swing rope over the Kilauea River, which flows down into the Pacific.

Our host Aaron, a guy from Bear Grylls with a backpack and a six-pack, arrives on a route that would make a Hollywood action star run away. We are based on a Blue Hawaiian helicopter tour with Brian, one of the most experienced pilots on the island. A fact that I repeat when we roll through the fog of Mount Waiëa, an extinct volcanic crater, wetest place on earth. Further afield, over the red Martian rocks of the Waimea Gorge, we spy on a group of hikers taking selfies on a precariously high vantage point.

Taste of the Tropics: A Hula Girl (picture above)

Taste of the Tropics: A Hula Girl (picture above)

Taste of the Tropics: A Hula Girl (picture above)

Back on the mainland, we watch Grace and Georgie gain self-confidence as we hike through the valleys of the Princeville Ranch, kayaking and ziplining. We also go back to the beach and hunt for waves and wild chickens. "If you can catch them, you can eat them," says Troy, a surfer type.

Captain Andy's sunset cruise along the Napali coast makes it easy for girls to experience some culture. We ride across the waves and enjoy salt-bleached saltwater under extraordinary 300-meter-high cliffs, but it's worth seeing the Honopu Valley, an ancient tomb of the Hawaiian kings.

Their bones were hidden by the bravest warriors of the tribe in the crevices, which were settled on grapevines and fell to death after the burial to protect the secret place. The valley is so sacred that no one is allowed to land on the beach without permission.

We take a 20-minute flight to Honolulu on Oahu Island, Hawaii's international hub and surf hotspot. This is a city that combines beach culture and urban bustle. You can eat at Nobu Sushi, shop in the vintage shops of Chinatown and take part in a sunset yoga class.

We check into the Halekulani Hotel, which has been transformed from a humble bungalow guest house into a two-wing sanctuary of chic for over 100 years. We meet with a crowd around the 100-year-old Kiawe tree for the hotel's nightly hula show, which is performed by a former Miss Hawaii. My girls are excited. Better than strict.

The next morning their excitement comes with the arrival of Gone Surfings Caz and Trevor, Zac Efron Lookalikes, who paddle for a surf break and slide through the waves within an hour.

Hawaii is hard to wash off. As a family, we have joined the joys of nature and a simple life together. People say, Hawaii calls them and for me it is true. I can not get the siren song out of my head.

TRAVEL FACTS

Hawaiian Airlines flies back from Los Angeles to Honolulu and Lihue from £ 336, hawaiianairlines.com.

Purekauai.com rents apartments from £ 230 per night. Sea Song (for eight people) costs £ 1,045 per night. Rooms at Halekulani from £ 389 per night, halekulani.com.

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