About ten years ago, our family went to Hawaii for the 1st time. We had long time friends from Newport Beach, California who owned a time share in Maui, and they finally convinced us – mainly me – to make the arduous trip from Washington, D.C. to the beautiful island. It was the beginning of love affair with the unique beauty and elegance of this tropical paradise.
Getting to Hawaii is not an easy or inexpensive trip. There are no direct flights and going there takes about 14 hours with a stopover in L.A. or San Francisco. Coming back is tougher as it involves a red eye flight that returns in the wee hours. We fly into Khahului airport on the island of Maui. It is an older airport, but has the look and feel of the islands. Renting a car is easy but expensive. We head off to the Whaler, a mixed fee simple and time share complex on the beautiful beaches of Kaanapali. The check in goes smoothly and we are on the beach in a short half hour. The water is warm and so clear. Up the beach about 500 yards away is a high cliff – the black rock – on which sits a Sheraton Hotel. Even from the distance it is possible to watch people jumping off the cliff into the bluest water.
The breeze rippled on the water until it caused big waves to land hard on the beach. The beach is filled with locals riding their little boogey boards up and down the crashing surf. The perfect effect for these skilled riders who enjoy minute long rides and gentle landings. Without a board but with a ton of experience body surfing in the Outer Banks of North Carolina, I head in for some fun. The pull and power of the surf is instantly clear and my mind sets the “be careful” button in place. Getting past the surf, I was in clear water of about 10 feet in depth. It was easy to see the white sand below. As I floated on my back and looked up to the bluest sky, I was glad that the long journey did not keep us from making the trip. After a while, it was time to head back in as I wanted to explore the black rock. I wasn’t ready for what happened next.
I could see the waves crashing on the beach. They were big high ones, but they were crashing very close to shore which meant that they were hitting the beach hard. The locals knew that and rode their boards down the length of the beach – an idea that I thought made sense for me too. I headed in but stayed out where the waves began to break. They would lift me up 10 feet and put me down on the sand like a teeter totter does. I got the rhythm of the waves and proceeded in. I got to where I was almost on shore when this wave crashed on me and flung me like a rag to the hard sand. I smacked my shoulder hard and could feel numbness. I slid back into the surf as the wave ran out. I scrambled as fast as I could to my feet and got out. Man, I thought. That was powerful.
I grabbed my snorkeling gear and went to the black rock walking along the beach. There were a lot of people snorkeling and quite a few jumping off the cliff made from black lava rock from a volcano eruption of eons before. The area was in a cove which made the surf much gentler. I donned my gear and waded in. As I swam out the water became deeper and fish began to appear. There were enough other snorkelers that made it important to watch where I was going. I got close to where the jumpers were landing and watch underneath as they crashed down. It was about 15 feet in depth which provided ample clearance for even the plumpest jumper. I swam on the end of the black rock where I was told was the best place to snorkel. What a thrill it was. In about 20 feet of water and with fish of every stripe and color, I watched nature at work. A commotion occurred and I saw people pointing to a big greenish brown sea turtle as it lumbered nearby without any recognition of the humans that followed its path. After 15 minutes or so, I headed back to shore.
This began a 2 week stay in Maui. It is a lovely place and the Kaanapali beach is on the calmest around. Hawaii can be very breezy which makes the sand blow and the time on the beach unbearable. The Whaler also sits next to the Whaler shopping area where there are many restaurants and shops in an open air environment. Two of the restaurants sit on the sidewalk parallel to the beach and offer acoustic style music of a blend of Hawaii and Jimmy Buffer motif. A fine place to sip a Heineken or enjoy opah, one of the many excellent fish found in these waters. This is also the birth place of the Roy’s restaurant chain which we became fans of, especially of the hot chocolate soufflé which is to die for. I can only eat 2 bites as it is so rich which is fine with my wife as she enjoys the rest.
For those who live on the East coast of the U.S., the trip to Hawaii is so long. It is a trip that is deserved of all who love island vacations. The combination of clear water surrounding gorgeous islands with the best in recreation and dining makes this one of our favorite choices for an annual vacation. You see we bought a 2 week time share a few years ago as a wedding anniversary present – at least that is what my wife later informed me.