Edited re-post from January 2005
Photos (clockwise from the upper left): One of the canyons seen from the helicopter in Kauai. A scene in Kauai. Me on the beach in Lihue at the Marriott on Mother's Day 2001.Tall red ginger growing at the Marriott.
My favorite place is Hawaii; specifically Kauai and the Big Island. I went to the Big Island 21 years ago, and it was love at first sight. We were there with 3 other couples for a week on the Big Island at Kona, and then we went to Maui for a business convention. The Big Island is a most diverse place: it ranges from utter desolation (at new lava flows) to lush rain forests with bamboo as large around as a body. Akaka Falls is not to be missed; it falls 400+ feet and is surrounded by lush vegetation and huge flowers.
We stayed in a condo just outside of Kona proper; it's name was Hale Kai O'Kona, which means "house by the side of the sea". We rented cars and went all over the island. My favorite place was Volcanoes National Park. Kilauea was quiet the day we were there, but it started erupting the day we left for Maui and it has been erupting for the last 21 years. I felt deprived at not seeing it erupt, as that has been a desire of mine for a long time, and still is.
Another good spot is Hilo, which is on the east coast of Hawaii. It was the scene of a horrible tsunami back in the 40's, but no damage is visible from that time. We had the best meal in Hilo. It was in a small restaurant with a koi pond in front and on the wall were signs from all the associations and clubs in the area, saying "Elks meet here on Monday", and "Kiwanis meets here Tuesday", etc. They served us a meat or seafood, 2 veggies, salad, dessert, bread and beverage for about $4 each. That was in 1985; who knows what it might cost now. My mahi-mahi was superb, and I have never again had fish that good!
We went to Kauai in 2001 and stayed at the Marriott in Lihue. Our younger daughter took us on this trip. Kauai has some of the most beautiful, spectacular scenery on the planet. Many movies are filmed there, as well as TV shows. If you ever have the opportunity to go to Kauai, make certain you drive through Waimea Canyon, which rivals the Grand Canyon scenically, but has the added attraction of much vegetation. Another wonderful place to see is the top of Mt. Waialeale, known as the wettest place on earth. I saw wild hydrangeas and calla lilies here, as well as lantana growing like hedges. The overlook down to the ocean was clouded over when we got there, but the weather here can change in a heart-beat, and before we left, the clouds lifted and the sun shone on the most beautiful lush, green canyon, down to the turquoise sea. The beauty of it brought tears to my eyes and all I could think was to thank God for allowing me to see it.
My daughter and I also went on a helicopter tour of Kauai, which is the easiest way to see the almost totally inaccessible cliffs on the north west side of the island; the Napali Coast. I smiled during the whole hour. I simply could not believe I was there, seeing this beautiful scenery from a helicopter. Leaving that island was a bad experience for me, and I would move there if I had no family left on the mainland.
We had drinks at a resort on the west coast of the Big Island. I cannot remember the name of it, but it was super fancy and the landscaping was phenomenal when you realize that it was placed on top of a lava flow, where nothing grows for many years. They had to ship in all of the building materials, sod and plants, and it is truly amazing what can be done! I guess all it takes is money and determination.
In Maui, we stayed at the Marriott on Kaanapali Beach, next door to the Hyatt Regency. Both hotels are good, but the Hyatt was spectacular at that time. I am sure it has changed considerably, but back then it had a "zoo" on the premises, along with many, many treasures from China, such as porcelains, statuary, etc. They were museum quality and probably should have never been allowed to leave China. They also had a lagoon where black swans swam, and it was right beside a restaurant. It was wonderful to sit there in the open air and watch the swans.