DELV­ING DEEP INTO THE ALOHA STATE

Get ready for thrilling, ac­tion-packed ad­ven­tures in Hawaii.

Dreamscapes Travel & Lifestyle Magazine - - Table Of Contents - BY E. LISA MOSES

While this trip took me way out of my com­fort zone, my ap­pre­hen­sions were quickly al­layed by sea­soned ad­ven­ture guides who as­sured us the agen­das, while ex­hil­a­rat­ing, were not ex­treme. It also helped that our tour groups were pop­u­lated by ev­ery­one from chil­dren to se­niors. And while more thrilling ver­sions and self-guided ex­pe­di­tions are avail­able, I was quite con­tent with how this trip played out.

Our guides—na­tive Hawai­ians or vis­i­tors who never left—in­cluded vol­ca­nol­o­gists, marine bi­ol­o­gists, surfers and park rangers. All were pas­sion­ate about the Aloha State and en­ter­tained us with back­sto­ries ga­lore. Out­fit­ters sup­plied ev­ery­thing from bam­boo walk­ing sticks and beach tow­els to back­packs and rain jack­ets for sur­prise down­pours. The var­i­ous ex­cur­sions also came with pic­nic lunches, bar­be­cues and wine tast­ing.

At the end of ev­ery day, we slid back into a com­fort­able ocean­front re­sort where we could swim, soak in a hot tub, sip lo­cal beer or ex­otic cock­tails, and en­joy a gourmet spread of home-grown pro­duce and pro­tein.

HAWAII: THE BIG IS­LAND

My first morn­ing cof­fee on the bay at the Court­yard King Kame­hameha’s Kona Beach Ho­tel put me into the laid-back aloha mood

in no time. My drink­ing part­ners were a 70some­thing ukulele-tot­ing surfer, two out­rig­ger ca­noeists and a stylishly garbed run­ner. In the lee of Hualalai vol­cano and next to the Kailua Pier, the re­sort is walk­ing dis­tance from the town’s as­sort­ment of shops and eater­ies boast­ing lo­cal fare such as shave ice and poke (Hawai­ian sushi). It is also home base for the an­nual Queen Lil­i­uokalani out­rig­ger ca­noe race and the ral­ly­ing point for the Iron­man Triathlon.

Climb­ing Mount Hualalai in an air-con­di­tioned Kapo­hokine Ad­ven­tures van was the first leg on our pil­grim­age to vol­cano coun­try. At an al­ti­tude of about 610 me­tres, we paused at the Mauka Mead­ows Cof­fee Farm for a tour, a view of pass­ing cruise ships and a pic­nic among the mon­goose and song­birds. Our guide Kent and the farm’s tast­ing room man­ager, Michael Poss­man, briefed us on the fea­tures and fame of the bean while we sipped unadul­ter­ated Kona cof­fee (from US$40 per pound).

Through­out the day, Kent (a for­mer Chicago thes­pian) re­galed us with the­atri­cal nar­ra­tive and song about scary vol­cano gods and god­desses such as Pele, and larger-thanlife folk he­roes like King Kame­hameha. As our van climbed past scat­tered set­tle­ments into cool rainy ter­ri­tory, he sup­plied us with cosy wa­ter­proof Patag­o­nia jack­ets to keep us com­fort­able while we strolled the rainforest and ex­plored an un­der­ground lava tube. One of his tales fea­tured a friend who had con­verted a lava tube into a wine cel­lar.

At an el­e­va­tion of some 1,200 me­tres, a bar­be­cue din­ner un­der tents at the Vol­cano Win­ery in­cluded a tast­ing ex­pe­ri­ence that in­tro­duced us to cu­ri­ous blends of grapes, fruits such as yel­low guava and jabot­i­caba berries, and es­tate-grown tea. Their new­est was a spe­cialty wine of “macadamia nut honey in­fused with es­tate black tea.”

The pin­na­cle of this trip was an evening visit to Vol­ca­noes Na­tional Park, where from the pa­tio of the his­toric Vol­cano House we caught the magma py­rotech­nics em­a­nat­ing from the Hale­mau­mau Crater. Sight­seers can learn about all things vol­cano at the nearby vis­i­tor cen­tre and Jag­gar Mu­seum.

A sub­se­quent tour to the north­ern end of the is­land, led by Hawaii For­est & Trail guide “Un­cle Danny,” took us past an­cient lava fields to a for­mer sugar cane plan­ta­tion that is now a cat­tle ranch and tourist hik­ing venue. Armed with walk­ing sticks and light back­packs, we trekked along the Ko­hala Ditch Trail that once brought wa­ter to the fields, learned about the plan­ta­tions of yore and snacked on ripe guava in an or­chard.

Af­ter a dip in the pool at the foot of a “se­cret” wa­ter­fall, Danny drove our Pinz­gauer ATV to a lunch spot high on a cliff above a stun­ning black-sand beach.

The day was capped by a Sea Quest night swim with manta rays in the bay off the Sher­a­ton Kona Re­sort & Spa. Weigh­ing up to 1,350 kilo­grams, the docile beasts rise up at dusk to dine on plank­ton, swim­ming ef­fort­lessly around snorkellers and divers. The re­sort and var­i­ous tour boats shine strong lights into the wa­ter, al­low­ing dozens of swim­mers cling­ing to float­ing plat­forms to see the lov­able crea­tures—and turn­ing the bay into a fes­tive scene.

KAUAI: THE GARDEN IS­LAND

Since the dawn of the mo­tion pic­ture in­dus­try, Kauai has been a mag­net for film­ing. Its lush scenery, se­cluded spa­ces and dearth of dan­ger­ous wildlife have at­tracted the mak­ers of movies such as Juras­sic World, Pi­rates of the Caribbean, Avatar and count­less oth­ers. Our trav­els un­veiled some of the lo­ca­tions.

A lux­ury 17-me­tre cata­ma­ran snorkelling trip or­ga­nized by Cap­tain Andy’s Sail­ing Ad­ven­tures took us along the rugged Na Pali coast for some un­der­wa­ter view­ing and on-board bar­be­cue lunch. Along the way, we passed one of the caves used as a set in Pi­rates of the Caribbean and spot­ted fly­ing fish, green sea tur­tles and spin­ner dol­phins frol­ick­ing in the wa­ter. Back on land for din­ner, we sam­pled an ex­trav­a­gant range of Hawai­ian sig­na­ture dishes—in­clud­ing lo­cal beef ten­der­loin—at the St. Regis Princeville Ho­tel’s Kauai Grill.

One of our most stren­u­ous ex­cur­sions was the Out­fit­ters Kauai Wailua River kayak tour. It in­cluded two hours of kayak­ing and about a 90-minute hike through the rainforest and over a rush­ing stream to another se­cret wa­ter­fall. Our bare­foot guide knew ev­ery root, rock and riverbed in­ti­mately; all we had to do was fol­low in his foot­steps. He was also well-ac­quainted with the count­less feral ducks, roost­ers, hens and chicks that are part of the en­tire state’s land­scape. Af­ter the tour, we kicked off our hik­ing shoes and feasted bare­foot in the sand at the Kauai Shores Ho­tel’s laid-back Lava Beach Club. A 20-cen­time­tre-high Hawai­ian Hula pie was the dessert of choice.

On our fi­nal day I sim­ply basked in the lux­ury of our chic ocean­front re­treat, Koa Kea Ho­tel & Re­sort. Sun­bathing by the pool and a mas­sage in the spa were the high­lights of the day, while din­ner at Red Salt start­ing with ahi tartare served as a fit­ting con­clu­sion to a wide-rang­ing Hawai­ian ad­ven­ture.

IHVB

OP­PO­SITE TOP: The pin­na­cle of this trip was an evening visit to Vol­ca­noes Na­tional Park, where we caught the magma py­rotech­nics em­a­nat­ing from the Hale­mau­mau Crater. BE­LOW: The hula por­trays songs or chants in a vis­ual dance form. IHVB

ABOVE: Waimea Canyon on the is­land of Kauai is known as the “Grand Canyon of the Pa­cific.” BE­LOW: Zip lin­ing tours op­er­ate on the Big Is­land and Kauai. BOT­TOM: On Kauai, tube down old sugar plan­ta­tion ir­ri­ga­tion canals and through tun­nels hand-dug in the 1870s. IHVB

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