Aloha

IMG_0359Is there a better greeting in the whole entire world than the word aloha?

It means hello. It means goodbye. It exudes warmth, peace and affection. And when you arrive in Hawaii, residents use it—and often.

It offers a feeling of sincerity and gratitude as if to say, “Yes, this is my home and I know it’s absolutely gorgeous and I know how lucky I am to live here.”

Everyone seems to use it freely as a greeting on the Hawaiian Islands. It never gets old. Even the gate agent uses it as you board the plane back to home. And if you are lucky to have a Hawaiian-based flight crew, you will hear it for just a little bit longer on your flight back home.

Aloha.

IMG_0978

Enchanting Waipi’o Valley, Hawaii, the Big Island

IMG_1122The Waipio Valley of Hawaii’s Big Island is lush and historic. Referred to as the Valley of the Kings, it’s an important place in Hawaiian culture and history. From the Waipio Valley Lookout, you will discover one of the most beautiful places in the world.

The Waipio Valley is sparsely populated, but remains home to approximately 50 residents.

Steep cliffs, a black-sand beach and a fertile valley filled with waterfalls, streams, taro fields and spectacular views surround you. Even on a cloudy day, the bright greens with the sound of the pounding waves are a feast for the senses.

The Waipio Valley lookout is located off Highway 240 at the town of Honokaa. Follow it to the dead end. The road down from the lookout is accessible only by four-wheel drive and is very steep. The grade of this road is approximately 25 percent, so a regular car is out of the question.

There are other options such as a an official tour–shuttle service in a four-wheel drive van followed by a tour with experienced guides on horseback in the valley.

Hiking is also an option if you have the time and ability to spend hours and make the mile-long trek, which is certainly more difficult on the way up than on the way down.

Sunny Poipu on Kauai

IMG_2717The island of Kauai has micro-climates. From tropical rain forest on the north side to dry and desert-like on the west side. Sunny Poipu is semi-arid and tropical. When it does rain, it tends to be brief. This creates warm temperatures year-round with just enough of a breeze from the trade winds to make it feel like paradise. No tall buildings here and most everything is a short walk to the beach. In other words–perfect.

Kauai’s Wailua Falls

IMG_2747Hawaii’s waterfalls are magical and diverse. Many of them are hidden treasures, off the beaten path and not visible without a hike. On Kauai, the beautiful Wailua Falls were made famous in the opening of the television series Fantasy Island, which aired from 1978 to 1984.

Starring Ricardo Montalbán as Mr. Roarke and Hervé Villechaize as Tattoo, the opening of each episode would include Tattoo running up the bell tower to ring the bell and rejoice at the arrival of new guests to the mysterious Fantasy Island. “Da plane! Da plane!” Mr. Roarke would always be dressed in a white suit with dark tie, curiously awaiting the guests for each episode.

The best was when Tattoo started to arrive at the bell tower in his own Tattoo-sized go-kart. Not that I ever watched it or anything.

In real life these waterfalls are impressive, beautiful, everything a waterfall should be. They are located off Highway 56 to Highway 583 (Ma’alo Road). Follow it to the end of the road to the viewing area.

Fall colors in Maui?

Autumn, with its spectacular fall colors in the Midwest, is my favorite season. But I don’t particularly care for what comes next. Okay, I could handle some snow and cold for about a month, but after late December, it could all go away and I would be pleased with the return of crocuses and tulips.

So, we often wonder if we would miss the seasons in we lived in Hawaii year-round—the snow melting away in the spring and the leaves changing to brilliant yellows, reds and oranges in the fall. And the answer is probably yes. Well, maybe a bit.

However, while visiting Maui in September, we were surprised that fall colors are actually everywhere. No, it’s not a typical New England or Midwest autumn, but there are subtle changes and the colors of fall are certainly on display.

And even though a monthly average temperature chart of Maui is pretty much a straight line with a little bit of an increase in the months of May through November, some plants and flowers do show seasonal changes. Others display the colors of fall year-round in Hawaii.

Below: The colors of fall in Kula, Maui

IMG_0958

IMG_0962

The colors of fall in West Maui in Kapalua

IMG_0596

IMG_1178

IMG_1177

IMG_0944

IMG_6326

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.

rainbowupcountry

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.

roadwestmaui

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.

menrestroom

womenrestroom

Twin Falls on Maui’s Road to Hana

If you take Maui’s famous road to Hana in a clockwise direction, one of the first stops you could make is at Twin Falls. Here, you’ll find hiking in the rainforest, swimming if you choose and a fruit stand. Look for the parked cars a little past the 2-mile marker.

photo[5]

The road to Hana is known for its waterfalls and you will find six or so at the Twin Falls location. No, they are not the most magnificent waterfalls on Maui, but the hike to get there is worthwhile.

photo[3]

A well-maintained path is about a mile and a half round-trip and you’ll see plenty of tropical flowers and jungle-like plants.

photo[6]

Since it’s the first stop on the right after the historic town of Paia, most people visit Twin Falls in the morning. We visited in afternoon and found the trees, flowers and wild vegetation as interesting as the falls.

photo[2]

If you looked and listened closely, you could almost see and hear the plants growing by the minute.

photo[1]

Hawaiian-style brunch and Sundays

Some things are just meant to be together–the perfect combination. Like Sundays and a tropical brunch. Why not start it out with a glass of passionfruit, orange and guava juice, or POG as it’s called in Maui where the combination was created in the 1970s?

POGFollowed by another perfect combination of Kona coffee and malasadas.

malasadaOr, perhaps refreshing papaya and lime juice?

papayaTopped off with one of the best tropical combinations ever: a pancake with macadamia nuts, bananas and coconut syrup.

pancakeThen, it might be time to hit the hiking trails. Or, since it’s Sunday another perfect combination might be calling you? A hammock between two palm trees with an ocean view.

hammock