Fueled by Sunshine, Papayas and Mai Tais

For the last two months, I have been lucky enough to live on the island of Kauai, researching and writing a book. All that sunshine, good food and mai tais really got the creativity flowing. I not only finished the Kauai book, but also got 114 pages into a new project. So many people have asked me, How did you make it possible to go live in Kauai during a pandemic?

Due to really strict rules about entering Kauai, they have one of the lowest rates of COVID cases. Which made Kauai one of the safest places to be in America. My family and I decided it would be worth it to quarantine for 14 days, if we stayed at least 6 weeks. I would be working all three jobs from there. And the school gave us all the material to homeschool our son.

It was touch and go at first. Kauai kept changing their requirements to enter and we had to rebook part of our stay in a resort bubble. But on January 18, 2021, we flew into Kauai with negative COVID tests. We only had to quarantine for three days, and tested out on the fourth day. And the rest of the trip turned out to be the best thing we could have done.

My ideal life would be to wear bathing suits, shorts and flip flops every day.  And that’s what I did for two months. All the sunshine, papayas and Mai Tais I consumed translated to my imagination on overdrive. The words flowed as they hadn’t in 2020. I did marketing and publicity stuff for Book 1 and edited Book 2 with my editor. I finished Book 3 and started Book 4. And because I was teaching my fitness and yoga classes virtually, as well as sewing for my Etsy shop (yes, I lugged my very heavy sewing machine and all sewing supplies to Kauai), I was making money while writing my books. Which all made the trip possible, money-wise.

This was my writing view most days.

And yes, I often had a Mai Tai as I wrote. I also did a lot of research, asking people strange things like, “So, would the Wailua River ever flood enough in a bad storm that someone could get swept away and drown?” They said yes and I’d answer, “Oh, good. Then that’s how she’s going to die!” And they slowly backed away from me. So my lovely publishers, Berkley, designed a bookmark for me for my debut book, THE TIGER MOM’S TALE. I gave them to people to show I really was a writer and not someone plotting murder.

What else did we do on the Garden Island? We ate our way through the island, of course. We had tuna poke bowls and Korean street tacos at Duke’s.

Slurped up the best saimin noodle soup and lilikoi chiffon pie at Hamura Saimin.


There was Salt and pepper chicken wings and Kalua pork quesadillas at Taps and Hops.


And some of the best food trucks like Manna Food Truck where we got amazing Filipino pancit and lumpias.

Every week, I’d dream of the best Kalbi beef with kimchi fried rice from Kauai Kimchee, that I’ve ever had. I could only get it on Saturdays from the Puhi Farmer’s Market.

You could also get the freshest fruits and vegetables from the farmer’s market. Along with delectable breads/pastries, like from Haole Girl Sweets. 

If you’re ever in Kauai, you have to try the parmesan truffles fries from Sam’s Ocean View.  It’s right on the water so you can have happy hour drinks while listening to the crash of waves.

Speaking of happy hour, we went to happy hour almost every day. We were afraid our son was going to go back to second grade and tell his teachers that he went to Happy Hour and had Special Drinks every day! Okay, maybe we did. But who could resist the  Mai Tais and virgin Mango Coladas at Brennecke’s? Or keep from double fisting Mai Tais and Pina Colada’s at Lilikoi’s? I also wrote a lot of words with a pink fizzy drink at Kalapaki Joe’s.


And that was the amazing thing. I really did write a lot of words at those Happy Hours.

With all the Mai Tais we were drinking, we did pick out our favorite two. They were the ones at Dukes and at Tahiti Nui.


In the interest of research for the book, I tried a lot of food. The acai berry bowl from Java Kai, and the fried rice from Noka Grill made it into my book


This started as a post about how I was able to live and work in Kauai for two months, and has turned into an Ode to the Foods of Kauai. I should also mention that I volunteered at the Kauai Humane Society two days a week while I was there. I was even spotlighted as the voluteer of the month for March!

We rescued a tiny kitten and brought her to the shelter where she was adopted right away.

I took dogs to the play yard, and went into kennels to keep the ones who couldn’t go out company. I held little dogs who were trembling in fear, and let puppies climb all over me.


And sat with some really sad dogs who were owner surrenders and loved on them. And rubbed lots of bellies. See how they would hold my hand in place so that I would keep petting them?


All this was a long-winded way of saying that we lived our best lives there for two months. One thing the pandemic has made me realize, if there’s something you want to do, go for it. Life is too short. And as horrible as the last year has been, we would never have thought to go live in Kauai for two months if not for the pandemic. We couldn’t afford it (we got some really great deals since no one was traveling) and I wasn’t working virtually before the pandemic. But now we see that we can make some dreams come true, if you do research, plan and save.

So if you have a dream, don’t give up on it, even when things seem hopeless. It took me six years after a really traumatic year in my life to bounce back and to realize my dream of publishing a book. And that book is now coming out in about three months. By thinking outside of the box, my writing gave me the opportunity to live in one of my dream locations this year.

Will we go back to Kauai? You’ll have to stay tuned to see! 🙂


  1. Sue Gettinger on March 22, 2021 at 8:47 am

    sounds amazing – I can’t wait for the books to come out- that last one better be edited for drunken typos

    • Lyn Liao Butler on March 22, 2021 at 9:41 am

      Haha! No drunken typos – at least I don’t think so! 🙂

  2. Chris Adler on March 22, 2021 at 9:59 am

    Wow, my bet is that anyone who reads this is going to head to Kauai and help raise their tourist stats! What a great post. And now I’m hungry and wanting some puppy love! 😀

  3. Susan Specht Oram on March 22, 2021 at 10:30 am

    Thanks for the virtual vacation! Inspiring!

    • Lyn Liao Butler on March 22, 2021 at 7:44 pm

      I hope it inspires you to do something you’ve always wanted to do!

  4. Helen Hennessy on March 22, 2021 at 12:28 pm

    Thanks for the inspiring post! My wheels are turning!

    • Lyn Liao Butler on March 22, 2021 at 7:44 pm

      Oh, good! I’m glad it helped to get your wheels turning!

  5. Whitney Trilling on March 22, 2021 at 1:39 pm

    Oh, so fortunate to spend your time in paradise!!! You earned it and, it sounds as if you made the best of it!!

    • Lyn Liao Butler on March 22, 2021 at 7:45 pm

      I know I was so lucky to have done this. And I appreciated every moment of it!

  6. […] Did you know that Lyn Liao Butler has been putting the finishing touches on THE TIGER MOM’S TALE from Kauai for the last 2 months? How did she do it? Find out in her blog post, Fueled by Sunshine, Papayas, and Mai Tais. […]

    • Nancy Wolin on April 8, 2021 at 7:30 am

      This all sounds so wonderful Lyn – I am SO happy for you and can’t wait to read your books! Thanks for such an upbeat and inspiring message!

      • Lyn Liao Butler on June 4, 2021 at 8:00 am

        Thank you! Just re-read the post and now wishing I was back there!

  7. Kelly Malacko on March 22, 2021 at 6:05 pm

    That sounds lovely. Good for you. I’m a little jealous, but mostly inspired. I’m glad you found inspiration, great food, and many happy hours.

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