LAVA OF IS­LANDS

HAWAII HAS ITS PEACE­FUL SIDE, EVEN AS A VOL­CANO SHOOTS OUT ROCKS

Life & Style Weekend - - ESCAPE - WORDS: ANN RICKARD

I’m glad I’m not in Hawaii now, as much as I love Hawaii. It ap­pears the spec­tac­u­lar Ki­lauea erup­tions, the flow­ing lava and toxic gases have not had a too much of a detri­men­tal ef­fect on tourism yet, but they surely will. When Mother Na­ture de­cides to play up, her wrath has no con­cerns for any­thing as mun­dane as tourism dol­lars.

Hawaii is one of those des­ti­na­tions to dream about. I think we should blame Elvis and those movies, I think he started it all.

We have vis­ited sev­eral times, spend­ing just a day or two on the Big Is­land be­fore get­ting over to the mass charms of Maui. Now that is one lovely Hawai­ian is­land.

We favoured the town of Wailea on the is­land – very wel­com­ing and with more than its share of glam­our.

The sug­ar­cane plan­ta­tions on the drive from the air­port to Wailea set the is­land mood. Ac­tu­ally, the mood is set at the small air­port when a friendly per­son drapes a lei around your neck, but those fields of sug­ar­cane flow­ing to the hori­zon cer­tainly lift the spir­its and fill you with an­tic­i­pa­tion.

Wailea has more than 600ha of lux­u­ri­ous beaches, re­sorts and golf cour­ses.

While we spent some time in the lounges and lob­bies of the sump­tu­ous Wailea Four Sea­sons Ho­tel, we didn’t stay there, couldn’t af­ford it (one day, maybe). The re­sort’s lush gar­dens and lawns me­an­der gen­tly down to the pink sand and blue sea. Its grounds have been a back­drop for many tele­vi­sion se­ries and fea­tured in movies. It’s one of those “can’t-be­lieve-i’m-here” re­sorts.

There are dozens of other ad­join­ing re­sorts and apart­ment com­plexes, con­nected by a long board­walk that winds its way be­tween the ac­com­mo­da­tions and the beach, and passes lux­ury con­dos (the sort that make you hate the rich peo­ple who could own a place).

We walked the board­walk ev­ery even­ing, peer­ing into the luxe re­sorts and watch­ing staff light the flares and lanterns, pre­par­ing for the luau feast and the hula dancers.

In the morn­ings we walked many kilo­me­tres in the other di­rec­tion along the beach, mar­vel­ling at the pink­ish tinge of the soft sand. We were told Oprah owned one of the enor­mous ocean­front homes that sprawled to the sand, and we looked in each morn­ing, per­haps to catch a glimpse of her, but of course we did not.

In the morn­ings the sea was mir­ror calm and some of the ladies in our re­sort, all women of a cer­tain age, would come out in their one-piece swim­suits, don bathing caps and swim way out into the deep, so far they be­came tiny specks in the dis­tance. You re­quired binoc­u­lars to see them.

Once there, the women would tread wa­ter and gos­sip for the en­tire morn­ing. I used to watch in won­der and ad­mi­ra­tion as they fi­nally swam back to shore around mid­day. When I asked them why they stayed out so long, tread­ing wa­ter, they said it was sim­ply for the en­joy­ment, the seren­ity and the pro­found deep­ness be­low them.

In the af­ter­noons as winds changed, the sea be­came a dif­fer­ent be­ing all to­gether. Gone was the mir­ror-like sur­face, re­placed by great pound­ing waves that crashed ma­jes­ti­cally to the shore. Signs along the beach warned to never turn your back on the ocean – not that we needed warn­ing, it was ob­vi­ous if you were even an­kle deep and not watch­ing those huge waves com­ing in, you would be knocked un­der in a nanosec­ond.

There is a lot more to do on Maui than swim and walk and stare at rich peo­ple.

Horse rid­ing is pop­u­lar, snorkellin­g and golf will keep you en­ter­tained, gal­leries and shops abound, and a short drive way in the Ahihi-kinau Nat­u­ral Area Re­serve there is a coastal lava field, quite the sur­real ex­pe­ri­ence to walk over.

And isn’t a hard-black solid lava field the only kind we want to ex­pe­ri­ence right now?

www.an­nrickard.com

WE WERE TOLD OPRAH OWNED ONE OF THE ENOR­MOUS OCEAN­FRONT HOMES THAT SPRAWLED TO THE SAND, AND WE LOOKED IN EACH MORN­ING, PER­HAPS TO CATCH A GLIMPSE OF HER, BUT OF COURSE WE DID NOT.

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