Tuesday, July 26, 2016

The complete Hawaiian vacation makeover

Vacations can be like parties—lots of fun and abandonment that can take a toll on the body and require time to recover from. Then again, a vacation in Hawaii, though all about pleasure, can be a recovery of your senses, leaving you with a feeling of rejuvenation.

Spas and hot tubs are part of any feel-good enterprise, and many hotels can set you up. Or, visit the Puna coast on the Big Island (not far from Hilo) and you can spend the day at Ahalanui Warm Springs Park (a county freebie)  luxuriating in warm water. The Big Island has several natural hot springs.

Essential to self-improvement is intentional "doing nothing." A lounge chair in the shade with vast blueness to stare at and white-noise waves rolling in is sure to reset the mind—if you stick with it long enough.

Thus relaxed, it's time to focus on the complexities of the natural world. Beachcombing and shell collecting will fill that need. Decorative shells can be found at numerous beaches, including Charo's on the north shore of Kauai.

Since "we are what we eat," try binge-consuming fresh juice and fruits.

But don't forget to add some greens. Sunshine (farmers) markets are common in the islands. You'll find little stands in front of people's houses, neighborhood gatherings where you can stock up, and also island-wide events where you can  make a day of it—like the Maui Swap Meet, the Aloha Stadium Market and Chinatown on Oahu, and the Hilo Farmers Market.

Swimming is exercise that relaxes, sort of an active massage. Mix some water play into the daily regimen and feel your joints and muscles ease.  Swimming pools will do the trick, but immersion in warm Hawaiian saltwater is an upgrade for the senses.

It's not hard to find Edenlike places to hike in Hawaii. The Kalalau Trail (above) on Kauai is one of the most popular, but every island has numerous places to escape into greenery and get your heart pumping.

Trailblazer guides are brimming with places to hike and snorkel, as well as farmers markets, gardens, retreats, and quiet cultural sites. When you visit Hawaii for a week or two, you can take the experience home, not just as snapshots, but actually infused into your body.

available on amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com, Powell's Books

Monday, July 18, 2016

I'll be watching you: Hawaii's lifeguards are among the world's best

The best way to have a safe day at the beach in Hawaii is to make sure you are under the watchful eye of one of these dudes, a Hawaiian lifeguard — trained to act swiftly to save lives. Every day, somewhere in the Islands, these guys (also called 'watermen' in Hawaii) risk their necks to save someone else's.

When conditions are adverse, lifeguards normally post signs up and down the beach. But don't count on it. Lack of signage doesn't mean the water is safe. The overriding beach safety rule is: When in doubt, don't go out.

Quads, surfboards, helicopters, and skidoos are all called into to play at a moment's notice.

Most beaches in Hawaii do not have lifeguard stations—but many do. Although lifeguards won't want to engage in long conversations with visitors, don't be afraid to ask them about conditions. That's what they are there for. 

Trailblazer guides for each island list beaches with lifeguards on duty. The books also have detailed safety sections that list possible hazards for each beach, as well as trails.

For some quick general guidelines go to www.hawaiibeachsafety.com

A woman from Germany is happy to hug her husband on land, after lifeguards plucked her off a channel in the reef at Anini Beach in Kauai. 

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Luxury for free in Hawaii

Hawaii's destination resorts are pricey, $500 a night and up, up, up. But to visit them is free. And many of the best resorts have museum-quality artwork, entertainment, exhibits, special events, botanitcal gardens, and poolside architecture that will curl your toes. The Grand Hyatt Kauai (above) features a man-made saltwater lagoon, set alongside a sprawling pool.

Using pools is of course limited to guests, but hotels commonly will offer paid day passes. On the other hand, all the beaches in Hawaii including those in front of resorts are open to the public.

The resort strip in Wailea features several high-end resorts, all linked by an oceanside path that extends several miles to the beach parks in adjacent Kihei.

The pool at the Grand Wailea seems to sprawl over acres and is bordered by lawn sculpture. 

Wailea has five public access parking lots. Same goes for the similar resort strip of Ka'anapali north of Lahaina on Maui, which also has a long walking path. The view at the St. Regis Princeville on the north shore of Kauai is mind boggling. South Kohala on the Big Island has quite a few fabulous resorts that have an entrance gate—Mauna Kea, Mauna Lani, Fairmont Orchid and the Four Seasons. The Hilton in South Kohala is like Disneyland. On busy days the entrance gate is a minor obstacle, if you know how to play it.

Buy them at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Powell's
or directly from the publisher at trailblazertravelbooks.com 

Trailblazers have all the tips on visiting dozens of resorts in the Islands—all freebies.