The Hawaiian greeting Aloha can mean either hello or goodbye. This may be due to the fact that when you’re in the islands you don’t know whether you’re coming or going.
Something about Hawaii – the sound of the waves, perhaps, or the pungent fragrance of the plumeria and the constant whisper of the trade winds – is akin to being in a drug-induced state. Or maybe it’s the Mai Tais. Whatever it is, it gives me coconut brain. While I am now physically back in California, my mind is busy is doing the hula, so don’t ask me any important questions right now.
Under the category of important questions: “What did you do while you were there?” Uh. Ummm. Stammer. The correct answer to that would be not very much, I guess. Although, upon reflection, we did rise up off our pool loungers and go into Kailua-Kona town one Sunday where we attended services at the very first Christian church built in the Hawaiian islands. The current Moku’aikaua church (two earlier thatched structures built in the 1820’s were lost to fire) was completed in 1837 under the direction of missionary Asa Thurston. We stepped inside to find that almost two hundred years later, the church’s active congregation exudes a warm Aloha spirit.
Some of the hymns were sung in Hawaiian during the service we attended, and members of the youth group performed a “praise hula”. The members of the non-denominational congregation are used to seeing lots of tourists in attendance and they make everyone feel very welcome.
After church, we wandered through a nearby Farmers Market. Very different wares than you’d find on the mainland!
I’d never seen Dragon Fruit before. This high-fiber, low-calorie fruit comes from a cactus called the Pitaya. Native to South America, it is now widely grown in East and Southeast Asian countries.
Back at our hotel the next morning, we found Dragon Fruit on the buffet menu. It’s just as exotic on the inside as it is on the outside.
Each Hawaiian island is a bit different from the others, and first-time visitors to the Big Island can be surprised by its “moonscape” appearance. The island of Hawaii is the youngest of the islands in the archipelago formerly known as the “Sandwich Islands” and is covered with lava rock. On the plus side, the weather on the Kona Coast tends to be warmer and drier than on the other islands.
On the minus side, the omnipresent lava rock can make the beaches seem unfriendly.
The best beach we’ve seen on the island is at the Mauna Kea, and it is one of the most spectacular beaches we’ve seen anywhere in Hawaii. Since we were traveling without other family members this trip (for the first time since our honeymoon almost thirty-three years ago!) we weren’t as concerned about the beach, so we stayed at the Four Seasons Hualalai, where the focus is on service. Consistently rated as the top resort in all of Hawaii, the Hualalai is a seductively understated resort. No high-rise here – the rooms are in two-story bungalows spread out along the resorts thirty-two oceanfront acres.
The Hualalai feels uncrowded, although we were told that during peak times there is a two-and-a-half-page wait for chairs by the main pool. Maybe because of the smoothies and the mango-vodka popsicles:
There is a family pool on the property, but if I were bringing kids on the vacation (and yes, family, we will plan another Hawaii trip with you all soon…) I would choose a different resort and maybe a different island. Travel snafus on this trip – stranded overnight at LAX due to a canceled flight and then almost missing our connection in SF on the way back due to a delayed flight – have led us to decide that continuing problems with the UAL/Continental merger has made flying direct to Kona an iffy proposition at best.
Whenever, wherever, however, we will return, always, to Hawaii. Because Aloha never really means goodbye…