There are moments when time stands still (or we realize that time is always standing still), when our bodies fuse with nature and peace ensues. These moments abound in Hawaii, and you don't have to climb a mountains to find them. Here are a few easy-to-get-to spots to find the sublime:
1. On Oahu, look no farther than Prince Kuhio Beach Park (pictured) right in the heart of Waikiki. High-rises and designer shops line one side of Kalakaua Avenue. But on the other side is the dusty-rose-colored Pacific, where surfers always ride the sun into the horizon. A free hula performance adds to the show, on the site where former Hawaiian royalty had their homes.
2. On Kauai, pull off at Wailua Bay, on the Kapa'a side of the Wailua River. A busy (for Kauai) intersection carries cars above, but below you will find local canoe teams putting in at the wide, placid river mouth--the first settlement of the Polynesians of ancient times. The sharp green ridge of the Sleeping Giant provides a backdrop.
3. On Maui, pull in at Olowalu Landing, a historic packed-earth protrusion that is off the highway on the way to Lahaina-Kapalua, which carries a conga line of rental cars. Sea turtles and whales cruise by the foamy shore and the West Maui Mountains reflect the sunset inland. (You'd never guess one of Maui's bloodiest battles took place here.)
4. On the Big Island, cruise south on busy Ali'i Drive, and keep right where the bypass road continues up the hill, carrying commuters with it. Here, at the Kuamo'o Battlefield—where piled stones mark the graves of those fallen at the last major battle in Hawaii—you will find a spot to watch waves do battle with at Kualanui Point. You are behind the sets, and very close, as they roll by to collide with the lava reef, an eternal conflict that the water will eventually win.
The Trailblazer guides have more directions to the sublime, both close to a parking spot and farther away.