Sunday, June 27, 2010

Maui – the Magic Isle

Many places claim the power to create memories that will last a lifetime, but few fulfill the promise like the Island of Maui. If its relaxation you’re after, we’ve got it, with near-perfect weather, great places to stay, uncrowned beaches and a setting that inspires awe and a sense of wonder. If you are looking for adventure and new experiences, we’ve got that too. Discover Maui, where whale-filled seas meet heavenly beaches. A place where the sun warms tropical trade winds that will blow your troubles away. Snorkel in crystal-clear waters or play golf on world-class courses of green, velvet perfection. Aloha and welcome t Maui, the Magic Isle.
The ancient Hawaiian chants tell the story of the demigod Maui who harnessed the sun from atop 10.000 foot Haleakala to slow its progress across the heavens. He made the perfect day on his namesake island last just a bit longer.
From that same perch today you can look out over this splendid island to survey its terrain. Along the beach-lined South Coast lie the resorts of Ma’alaea, Kihei, Wailea and Makena, each fronting gentle waters perfect for swimming.
To the east, turn your attention to the forested mountains and countless waterfalls that surround Hana. The road to Hana is a series of hairpin turns and single-lane bridges where you’ll discover breathtaking panoramas around every corner.
On the slopes below Haleakala are the grassy ranchlands and flower farms of upcountry Maui. Sublime views and cooler temperatures prevail here. Upcountry is a state of mind, characterized by large family-owned ranches and Hawaiian cowboys who share the beautiful area with the many artists who’ve settled here in a landscape of endless inspiration.
Looking over the central plains, you spy Maui’s other volcanic mountain, Kahalawai. In its morning shadow you’ll find historic Lahaina and the famous resorts of Ka’anapali, Kahana, Napili and Kapalua. Lahaina was once the royal capital of Hawai’i and later a rowdy whaling port. Today, Front Street retains its old world charm while offering a collection of shops, art galleries, entertainment and restaurants just steps from the waterfront.
Maui’s central valley is anchored by county seat Wailuku at the doorstep of ‘Iao Valley and bustling Kahului. Find local-style eateries in Wailuku along with a collection of antiques shops. Kahului is the commercial center of the island and home to the Maui Arts & Cultural Center and Maui’s largest mall, the Kaahumanu Shopping Center.
It’s hard to imagine a place more relaxing than Maui. But if, as some say, the key to relaxation is activity, few places compare to Maui. On the ground, in the air, on the water, in the water or under the water. Maui is arguably the world’s greatest playground.
Hike trails equal to none, go for a horseback ride, kayak, and snorkel or dive in the pristine waters. Not done playing? Surf made-in –Hawai’i waves or windsurf the tropical trade winds. And always, the beach. Forty-two miles of uncrowned and sublime beaches to be exact. Add tennis, golf, helicopter tours, history, art, nature, shopping, dining, touring and countless cultural attractions and you’ll want to extend your stay.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Kauai – Hawai’i Island of Discovery

Kauai has a lush, rural feel and a laid-back lifestyle all its own. After all, Kauai is Hawai’i oldest island and, as first-born, has a legacy of paradise to uphold. And what a paradise! A trip around Kauai is a feast of green, tropical forests, cascading waterfalls, golden sand beaches and the time of your life. Your circumnavigation will be interrupted by one of the world’s greatest natural wonders, the Na Pali Coast. Don’t be daunted. Take to boat or helicopter to witness its 14 miles of vertical seamounts falling into a necklace of white surf spray. Your heart will skip a beat. Kauai does that to you over and over again.
Nothing prepares you for some of its natural wonders such as the Na Pali Coast, Wailua Falls, Waimea Canyon and the 17 mile Polihale Beach. The landscapes of Kauai have served as locations for more than 50 movies over the years. Ask the friendly people of Kauai and they’ll tell you it’s because there’s no place more beautiful on earth.
Kauai has been around millions of years longer than its sister islands. Time and the elements have created Hawai’i only navigable rivers, carved a deep canyon, tended an amazing feast of flora and set out seemingly endless beaches.
A tour of Kauai might start in the county seat of Lihue, which also gives its name to the airport nearby. Also close is Kalapaki Beach, which offers the best swimming on this part of the island. Driving north along a stretch known as Coconut Coast, you come to the towns of Wailua, Kapa’a and Anahola. This area was settled first and fairly bustles with action. There are plenty of shops, restaurants, accommodations, activities and attractions including many of Kauai’s legendary waterfalls and the Wailua River.
Further up the road, you arrive at the North Shore and the towns of Kilauea, Princeville, Hanalei and Ha’ena. Here, find the world-famous Princeville Resort with its equally famous golf courses and a collection of beaches second to none. At Ha’ena State Park, the road ends at the majestic Na Pali Coast. To explore the other side of the island, turn around and retrace your route. You’re sure to discover any number of interesting things you missed on the ride up.
The drive into South Kauai takes you under a mile long, shady canopy of eucalyptus trees. You emerge into a brightness that will have you reaching for your sunglasses. Welcome to the sunny South Shore. Explore the plantation town of Koloa and the resort area of Po’ipu, with its gentle beaches and popular golf courses.
The West Side of Kauai is further up the road, physically and metaphorically. The towns get smaller, the population thins out and nature imposes in the likes of 3.500 foot deep Waimea Canyon and Koke’e State Park’s 45 miles of hiking trails. A horseback ride into the rusty, cooper canyon will reveal why Mark Twain nicknamed it the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific”. At the end of the road is the Kalalau Valley Lookout where you will be rewarded by one of the most scenic views on the island.
Kauai’s natural beauty is the setting for any vacation activity. There are lots to do, whether you’re the active type or your taste runs to the quiet and contemplative. Kauai’s 154 holes of great golf will keep you joyfully occupied.
If you’re planning a wedding or coming on your honeymoon, you’ll find the perfect marriage of fantasy and reality in one of the most romantic spots you can imagine. For families, there are lots of activities to share like hiking, horseback riding, snorkeling, kayaking, bicycling and picnicking on the beach.
And remember, Hawaii delightful melting pot of cultures serves up a variety of dining menu items that will add to your fun of discovery on Kauai.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Oahu – the Heart of Hawai’i

Come and experience the diversity of an island paradise where cosmopolitan conveniences are surrounded by breathtaking scenery. Envelope yourself in the aloha spirit, a way of life in the islands that will leave you longing to return to Oahu, the island where aloha begins. Follow the aloha to world-famous Waikiki Beach, one of the most popular vacation destinations in the world – with good reason! A short drive out of town in any direction will bring you face to face with uncrowned beaches, natural wonders and beautiful scenery that will have you wondering if you’re on the same island. Escape to Oahu, the island with surprises around every corner.
Search the world, there’s no place like Oahu, an island of endless variety. Just miles outside the vibrant, modern city of Honolulu lie tropical green valley’s little changed in thousands years. Waikiki is one of the most popular beaches anywhere, but again, a few miles down the road you can explore any number of beaches and find few footprints besides your own. Oahu offers the finest in five-star dining and delicious local favorites served from roadside wagons. And a rainbow is a glorious sight whether hanging over a city skyline or a secluded waterfall.
Honolulu is the capital of Hawai’i. There’s a lot of colorful history attending Honolulu’s past and it can be seen everywhere from the incredible collection of artifacts at the Bishop Museum to the ‘Iolani Palace, home to the last reigning monarch, Queen Liliuokalani. A walk through Chinatown provides the flavor of the street life and architecture of the turn of the last century when the Aloha Tower was the tallest building for 2.500 miles.
The best way to appreciate all Oahu has to offer is to get in a car and venture beyond the city limits. Heading east, it’s just a couple of miles to Hawai’i Kai and sheltered Maunalua Bay, a great place for all sorts of water sports. Drive on past Koko Head to Hanauma Bay where thousands of reef fish seem to have no other purpose than to entertain snorkelers.
Makapu’u Point marks the beginning of Oahu’s windward side. Makapu’u Beach is a favorite with experienced boogie boarders. And you can see the island of Molokai in the distance. Next stop is Waimanalo, a quiet, rural town where Oahu really begins to slow down. Join the pace with a long leisurely walk on Waimanalo Beach.
Continue on to Kailua. Two beaches here are worthy of note. Lanikai Beach is popular for swimming, windsurfing and kayaking and two-mile Kailua Beach is a favorite for strolling along its aquamarine waters. If you’ve used up the whole day exploring this far you can head back across the Ko’olau Mountains on the Pali Highway. After you crest the hill, exit at the Nu’uanu Pali Lookout for a bird’s eye view of the windward side.
Driving on up the windward side will take you deeper into rural, forested Oahu. Take it slow; otherwise you’ll miss the charms of the small towns that dot the coast like Kakalu’u, Waikane, Kahana, and Punalu’u. Each has a beach and a general store to explore. La’ie is a little bigger and boasts the first Mormon Temple built outside of the mainland United States. It’s also the home of the Polynesian Cultural Center.
Around the next corner, pass Kahuku Point and you’ve arrived at Oahu’s popular North Shore with its famous surfing beaches. The ride back to Honolulu takes you through sugar and pineapple fields between the Ko’olau and Wai’anae mountain ranges to Pearl Harbor.
Head east again to complete the circle or turn west to explore Oahu’s Leeward Coast and the beaches of Nanakuli and Makaha. Past Kaneana Cave you can hike to Ka’ena Point where the view of the Pacific Ocean is unlimited.
With few stops, it’s possible to finish this tour in a long day. But you’ll want to plan several days to experience all the attractions and activities along the way.