HOA KAI + HOLO HOLO
Sometime during this past decade, the Turkish beach towel arrived on the American scene. At first, it wasn’t clear if these Middle Eastern materials were just having a “moment” among trendy, wanderlust-types, or if the fad would stick. But now it’s 2022 and they’re sold at Costco; it’s safe to say the product has “made it.”
Indeed, Turkish beach towels aren’t going anywhere, and we’re totally here for it—they dry fast, they’re sand repellant, they’re fashionable, and they are sooo much lighter, smaller, and easier to pack than those big, bulky, beach towel behemoths of yesteryear. Hallelujah!
Unfortunately, it’s not all good news. Ironically (but not surprisingly), high demand for these beautiful and functional towels is threatening the survival of the very Turkish weaving and cultural traditions that created them.
It’s a tale we’re all too familiar with. Something very special is “discovered” by the masses and before we know it, industry and—let’s face it– our collective desire for “products we need at prices we love” (as Target puts it), stands to destroy everything that made the product so special and unique in the first place.
This is all too true when it comes to Turkish towels. Centuries ago, Turkish carpet-weavers started applying their skills to a new product—towels, or peshtemal. At first, peshtemal were created using only the highest quality, long-fiber Turkish cotton and were woven on handlooms by artisans that incorporated elaborate and intricate designs. These first towels were for royalty and other elite members of the Ottoman Empire.
Fast forward to now, and the Turkish towel is becoming an American essential. Again, not surprisingly, what was once a high-end, hand-crafted product is being copied, cheapened, and exploited by industrial textile manufacturers. Inexpensive “Turkish” towels (that are sometimes manufactured in China or India) flooding the market spells poverty and displacement for thousands of Turkish families that can’t possibly compete with mass production and global supply chains. Communities are losing the means to support themselves, not to mention important pieces of their cultural identity.
Fortunately, there’s a bright side! Not all is lost and we’re glad to share that there’s a Kauai company selling authentic, high-quality Turkish beach towels that we can all feel great about.
Kelly Kakalia is a born-and-raised Kauai wahine and as a beach lover, wife, and mother of 3 boys and one girl, she was always hauling around and laundering those stinky, moldy, sand-encrusted, water-logged terry-cloth beach towels. When one glorious day she encountered the almighty Turkish beach towel, Kelly was inspired to bring this brilliant product to her friends, family, and all the beach-lovers of Hawaii.
Growing up on Kauai gave Kelly an awareness of both the light and dark sides of cultural appropriation, and she wanted to tread lightly. It was critical to Kelly that if she were to spend her passion and energy bringing Turkish towels to the Aloha State, she do so in a manner that supported the place and the people that created the product to begin with.
She researched and manifested and eventually, guess what– Kelly found a village in southeast Turkey that still weaves peshtemal in the traditional way. They struck up a partnership and Kelly’s company Hoa Kai Surf was born!
Now, us beach bums are able to support a Kauai business, help perpetuate weaving traditions in Turkey, and sport stylish and highly functional beach towels.
But wait, it gets better! We’ve collaborated with Kelly and the other fine ladies at Hoa Kai (which means beach companion, by the way) and have created our own Napali Coast towel featuring a design by Kit Furderer, our company’s Advertising & Marketing Manager. Kit is a talented artist and photographer, who has been drawing inspiration from the Napali Coast for years. In creating this design, he aimed to illustrate Napali in a way that captures how the light shapes the cliffs and coastline. He choose the Kalalau Valley Cathedrals as the main focal point to showcase the raw beauty of the Napali Coast.
The beauty that you yourself will experience on any one of our five Kauai boat tours!
Our beautiful Holo Holo Charters Napali Coast Hoa Kai towels can be purchased at our check-in office in Port Allen. Buy one for yourself to enjoy on your Kauai trip and keep it always as a memento. And consider taking some home to share—luxurious, quality, highly-functional, and easy to pack make these towels a tasteful gift.