Monday, September 29, 2014

Make sure your Hawaiian 'honeymoon' is not a blind date: No Worries Hawaii

Even if you're not going to Hawaii to celebrate a wedding, a vacation is a lot like a honeymoon: It costs a chunk of change, takes a lot planning, and some tropical romance is expected.  You want to make sure that reality measures up to your expectations, and you don't wind up with a blind date gone astray. 

The type of vacation you can have in Hawaii varies wildly—from a Las Vegas-type soiree to a wildnerness backpack trip, with many options in between. What do you fantasize when you think of Hawaii? Whatever that is, No Worries Hawaii (a planning guide), will let you take those dreams and turn them into details.

At the heart of No Worries Hawaii is a a simple-but-thorough self test. Some 36 aspects of Hawaii are listed, such as family beaches, nightlife, museums, hiking trails, snorkeling coves, tropical gardens, ancient sites, surfing spots—all of the things Hawaii has to offer. You go through the list, checking off what is important to you, what is sort of appealing, and leaving out what you don't really care about. Your answers are summarized, and the test reveals which island you are likely to like the most. For each category, all of the specific attractions are listed for each island, for reference when you actually visit.

Once your island is selected, No Worries Hawaii describes the options among places to stay (like mid-level resorts and condos, country cottages, luxury resorts, beach condos, etc.) and then presents hand-picked accommodations to choose from. The book is also packed with money saving tips, freebies, and how to plan your days so you don't get stuck in crowds. Ways to save on hotels, flights and rental cars are also included. Readers will also want to take a close look at the detailed tips for having a safe vacation in the water, along the shore, driving, and on hiking trails. Having fun can be dangerous, unless precautions are taken.

The authors have visited for several decades, in the course of writing and updating guidebooks for each of the islands. No Worries Hawaii is a must-have, both for first-time visitors unsure of where to go, and for returnees who want to try something different.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Mauna Lani, The Big Island's Luxury Oasis

Visiting the Mauna Lani Resort in the South Kohala is one of Hawaii's major freebies. From the highway you look across a vast, sun-scorched slag heap of jagged lava: hardly a vision of paradise.  But drive in to find a mile-long seacoast with white-sand coves, a 30-acre history park, tranquil freshwater ponds, and a path that connects with the fabulous Fairmont Orchid Resort. The historic Queen's Pond, pictured above, is tucked away behind Beach Club Beach, and next to a series of larger ponds.

Waipuhi Iki Pond (above) is one of several at the backshore of the beaches, used in ancient times to raise mullet and other fish. A footbridge spans the water to a little-island hut that is one of the most serene places on earth. Near the footbridge is the small Eva Parker Woods Cottage Museum, where, when the moon is full, a free 'Talk Story,' performance is presented by Danny Kaniela Akaka, Jr. (son of Hawaii senator).  Song, dance, and Island-style story-telling blend into a memorable experience. Each show is a little different.

Along the coast are three or four safe and spectacular coves for swimming and snorkeling. Adventure hikers can continue north of the resorts to the Puako Petroglyph Park and the reefs in Paniau, or south along a golf course to 49 Black Sand Beach. Check it out in Hawaii the Big Island Trailblazer, pages 56 to 59.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Nature rules at Maui's Ironwoods Beach

In recent decades, contstruction cranes have outnumbered coco palms along Maui's Kapalua Coast (just north of Ka'anapali on the west side), but not at Ironwoods (Oneloa) Beach. A boardwalk-trail parallels the sand dunes at the backshore, running from Kapalua Resort on the south, passing the Hawea Point Shoreline Conservation Area, and connecting with the Dragon's Teeth seascape at the Ritz Carlton on the north end.

A near-constant shore break makes Ironwoods better for surfing than snorkeling. Beachcombers can enjoy the view of Molokai sitting nine miles away on the horizon. Maui Trailblazer (pages 68 to 74) has more details on places to call your own amid what can be a crowded coastline.