Fifty shades of grey

The gratuitous headline actually fits the photo below perfectly. This is February in the Midwest—cold, often cloudy, always monochromatic.

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Compare and contrast to the vibrant colors one experiences on the islands of Hawaii—reds, oranges, yellows, greens, blues, indigoes and violets. Yes, a rainbow of colors wherever one turns. Even in the rain, there is usually a rainbow to be discovered.

The minute you step off the plane it’s apparent. It doesn’t matter if you land in Honolulu on Oahu, Kona or Hilo on the Big Island, Lihue on Kauai, Kahului on Maui, or if your final destination is via a smaller aircraft to the Lanai or Molokai airports.

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This photo above, from March 2014, was taken at Kua Beach on the Big Island—officially known as Manini’owali Beach. It’s a gem of a beach with crystal clear waters, white sand, sea turtles, reefs for snorkeling. This photo, taken on a whim from my cell phone, shows the entrance area to a walkway to the beach. I love how a coconut near the rustic, weathered picnic table looks as if it was positioned there on purpose. When we returned from this trip, I sent this one off to Canvas on Demand, so that I could hang in on my wall for days like this when it’s 3 degrees outside.

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This quintessential beach above is in front of Mama’s Fish House on Maui. The palm trees provide just enough shade from the sun. If you stop for lunch or dinner, this is the view.

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On Kauai, home to one of the rainiest spots on earth at the summit of Mount Waialeale, beautiful color is everywhere—even in the rain. This photo is from a lookout near Princeville. I love the serene colors and landscape. So peaceful.

On Lanai, the landscape has its own beauty and is completely different on the shore as it is in upcountry Lanai. This view below is of the lush gardens at the Four Seasons Lodge at Koele. The air is crisp here. The manicured Japanese gardens are stunning. Icing on the cake is the orchid house they have onsite. Rain or shine, gorgeous.

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Pick an island, any island. Really, you can’t go wrong. Need. To. Go. Back. Soon.

Love at first sight

Not sure if I believe in love at first sight when it comes to finding that certain someone, but I sure do believe in love at first sight when it comes to places. For me, that place will always be Hawaii.

The past year has been a whirlwind. Almost too many milestones to digest at once: graduations, entering the empty nester phase, a couple of family health detours, new adventures and our self-proclaimed year of travel. Our philosophy on airline miles and hotel points? Use them now. Life is short and you never know. Carpe diem.

We went to Istanbul. We went to Greece, Italy and France. For my husband’s milestone birthday, we went Costa Rica. And then there was a trip to Oahu that we had planned for our anniversary in March: Now on hold with work and other obligations.

They say that April is the cruelest month, but I disagree. In the Midwest, it is March. February is a close second. The holidays have come and gone. The snow, cold and ice remain. Even in a mild winter, there is darkness. There is sleet. There is black ice on the roads. In April there is hope—the days finally seem longer after the cold and we rejoice in the fact that we’ve turned a corner. Although I painfully remember that we had snow in May of last year.

So, in the meantime, I think of my one true love. Yes, that would be this guy—the one I married on my first visit to the Island of Hawaii many moons ago. For anyone contemplating the idea of a Hawaiian wedding, I highly recommend Rev. Libby from Weddings A La Heart. Here she is with us on the Kohala Coast signing our marriage certificate—before they went electronic. Our ceremony could not have been more perfect. Love.

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For today, I’ll dream of the place in the world where it all began. The thermometer tells me that it is -2 degrees outside today. In my heart, it’s 78 with a light breeze. Happy Valentine’s Day. Aloha.

 

 

 

 

 

Torch lighting ceremony at Black Rock on Maui

Each evening in Ka’anapali, as the sun begins to set in the ocean, a torch lighting ceremony followed by a cliff diver’s plunge into the sea is held at Black Rock on Maui.

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The beach near Black Rock is directly facing the Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa, which conveniently offers the Cliff Dive Grill and Mai Tai Bar–a great place to watch the traditional ceremony and enjoy a tropical beverage or appetizer (pupus as they are called on the Hawaiian Islands). The beach is spectacular and the sunsets here do not disappoint. This area is also known for excellent snorkeling.

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The sunsets from this viewpoint paint the sky with brilliant shades of pinks and blues. Black Rock, formed by a volcanic eruption in ancient times, was considered by ancient Hawaiians as the sacred place where souls would leave the earth and join with ancestors.

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Yes, the daily cliff dive ceremony is a tourist gimmick and yes, you should go. Watching the cliff diver reach the summit as he casts his lei into the sea and takes a magnificent dive into the sea is well worth a stop.

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Lovely Wailea Beach on Maui

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If ever there was a quintessential Hawaiian beach, this just might be it. Wailea Beach on Maui is a classic, soft sandy beach. It’s often voted as one of the best beaches in America and for good reason.

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It doesn’t hurt that it sits in front of some of the finest hotels and resorts in Hawaii, including the Grand Wailea, the Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea and the Fairmont Kea Lani.

But, in true Hawaiian style, this beach is not just for the rich and famous—or for those staying on one of these luxury resorts. Although it’s small, a  parking lot is available and it even offers showers and restrooms.

Snorkeling, boogie boarding, a walk on the beach, or perhaps just relaxing and listening the ocean waves. What are you waiting for?

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West Maui: The road past Kapalua

photo[3]Maui’s most famous drive may be the Road to Hana, but the drive along the top of West Maui on highway 30 heading north also has its share of sights to take your breath away. If you’re lucky, you will be in the passenger’s seat so that you are able to take a photo of the road ahead. It is narrow and curvy and you do see netting above to stop the rocks from falling, but if you take it slowly and enjoy the journey, it’s full of places to stop and admire, or even spend the day. These include Dragon’s Teeth, the unfortunately named Slaughterhouse Beach, Honolua Bay, Punalau Beach, the Nakalele Blowhole, the Olivine Pools, Kahakuloa Village and some of the best banana bread on the planet. Enjoy the view!

The flight to Hawaii

There is no way around it. Hawaii is an isolated destination to reach if you are not lucky enough to live on one of the islands. It is, after all, the most remote island chain in the world.

The Hawaiian Islands are nearly 2,400 miles from California, nearly 3,900 miles from Japan and if you live in New York City, you are in for a nearly 5,000-mile flight.

Then there is the time zone change. From the U.S. Central Time Zone, Hawaii is either a four or five-hour time difference.  (Hawaii doesn’t observe daylight saving time.) After the long flight over, my inner body clock has me up around 2 to 3 a.m. in the Hawaiian Time Zone for the first few days. So, yes, the time zone changes and distance are challenging. But then you might find yourself looking at this view in Upcountry Maui, complete with a rainbow in the distance.

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Or, there is this view from the main road to West Maui. If you are visiting from a location with long, cold, snowy winters, the colors are a feast for your eyes.

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And before you know it, your stay is over and you find yourself heading back to the airport for the return flight home, which is often an overnight flight if you live in the United States.

Is the long flight worth it? Absolutely. Bonus: Even the signs in the airports in Hawaii are charming.

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Hawaii’s fragile waters

The sad environmental news out of Oahu this week got me thinking about the beauty and fragility of Hawaiian waters.

A massive molasses spill off the Honolulu Harbor is wreaking havoc with the fish and the fragile coral reefs. An estimated 230,000 gallons of the thick and sticky substance has IMG_1053seeped into the waters and scientists will probably not know its entire impact for years.

If you have snorkeled anywhere in Hawaii, you know the mystery and beauty of these reefs. You look, admire and marvel from a distance. Even the slightest human touch is dangerous to the reefs, so the thought of a spill of this magnitude saddens me. These reefs are thousands of years in the making and the fish you find in the seas of Hawaii are colorful, diverse and fascinating.

The people of Hawaii take the beauty of the islands seriously. It’s one thing I admire when visiting. With waters and shorelines like this, it’s easy to see the importance of protecting it and keeping it clean for future generations.

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And speaking of taking care, don’t ever, ever take rocks or sand from Hawaii home. I’m not particularly superstitious, but this is one warning I would heed. It’s a common belief that it will be followed up by bad luck. More about that here.