The Aloha Spirit

Reflections. The Infinity Pool at Wailea Beach Marriott Resort & Spa, Maui. © Carl Amoth

Reflections. The Infinity Pool at Wailea Beach Marriott Resort & Spa, Maui. © Carl Amoth

Although this is the season of traditions, I’m going to break with tradition by writing the closing post for this trip. (Bev deserves the day off. Maybe she’ll take the photographs for a future post.)

Reflections:

So how do you describe the ineffable? If you’ve been to the Hawaiian Islands you’re certain to grasp my dilemma, and my challenge in writing this post. This visit is my second trip, and Bev’s tenth. We’ve been to Maui, Kauai, Oahu, and Hawaii—aka The Big Island. These islands possess the unique quality to touch all of the senses in a most sublime way. But there’s something more… it’s deeper… it exalts your heart, your soul. Perhaps Serge Kahili King helps to elucidate this “something more” in his booklet, “The Aloha Spirit.”

The Aloha Spirit is a well known reference to the attitude of friendly acceptance for which the Hawaiian Islands are so famous. However, it also refers to a powerful way to resolve any problem, accomplish any goal, and to achieve any state of mind or body that you desire.

In the Hawaiian language, aloha stands for much more than just “hello” or “goodbye” or “love.” Its deeper meaning is “the joyful (oha) sharing (alo) of life energy (ha) in the present (alo).”

As you share this energy you become attuned to the Universal Power that the Hawaiians call mana. And the loving use of this incredible Power is the secret for attaining true health, happiness, prosperity and success.

I believe the essence of Aloha can also be experienced through the music of the late/great Israel “IZ” Kamakawiwo’ole. Here’s a sample of the man and his music on YouTube:

Bev & I experienced The Aloha Spirit throughout our visits to the islands. The Hawaiians we met exuded warmth and authenticity; they also shared a deep, intrinsic connection with nature, which really resonated with me. What follows are but a few of the many examples of the wonderful hospitably demonstrated to Bev & me during our visit.

Douglas, our Waipi’o Valley guide... and new friend.

Douglas, our Waipi’o Valley guide… and new friend.

Douglas, our Hawaiian guide to the Waipi’o Valley, invited us to share a picnic with his family on the beautiful black-sand beach of this sacred and protected valley on our next visit. He even gave us his personal phone number.

Our dear Hawaiian friends, Daerick and Neddra Lanakila, graciously invited us to stay at their home in the rainforest near Volcanoes National Park. We had such a wonderful time with them while visiting Hawaii.

I dropped by the Maui Oma Coffee Company to purchase some of the most incredible coffee I’ve ever tasted. Just as they were about to close, the roast master was kind enough to take time to share a wealth of interesting information about the roasting process and various methods of coffee preparation. Then his apprentice, Kahea (who referred to himself as Mark’s “grasshopper”) offered to show me their roasting room, which was very impressive. I asked Kahea what other popular coffees they sell, and he told me their Maui Peaberry is another sought-after coffee. He said he recently “f–ked” up a batch by over-roasting the beans into a dark—rather than a medium—roast. However the “f-up” was a surprise success. It turned out to be exceptionally palatable; his friends and family love it. So I bought a pound, and asked Kahea if he would label it for me. He did. Cool guys. Great visit. Aloha spirit? Clearly!

Maui Oma Coffee Roasting Company. Mark and Kahea.

Maui Oma Coffee Roasting Company. Mark and Kahea.

Attention Coffee Lovers! Maui Oma Mokka: the BEST coffee Bev and I have ever tasted! (And we've tasted a lot of fine coffees.) The complex, dark-chocolate flavor is truly amazing--and there are NO added flavor enhancers; the flavor comes totally from the coffee bean. First sampled at Longhi's Restaurant in Wailea, this unique, tiny-bean varietal is cultivated in rich volcanic soil on the slopes of west Maui mountains.

Attention Coffee Lovers! Maui Oma Mokka: the BEST coffee Bev and I have ever tasted! (And we’ve tasted a lot of fine coffees.) The complex, dark-chocolate flavor is truly amazing–and there are NO added flavor enhancers; the flavor comes to
tally from the coffee bean. First sampled at Longhi’s Restaurant in Wailea, this unique, tiny-bean varietal is cultivated in rich volcanic soil on the slopes of west Maui mountains.

The following photos show some of the ways we spent our last two days in Maui.

Enjoying the Maui sunset aboard the Alii Nui, a 65' sailing catamaran.

Enjoying the Maui sunset aboard the Alii Nui, a 65′ sailing catamaran.


The crew of the Alii Nui hoisting the mainsail. Bev &I enjoyed a fantastic food & wine sunset cruise aboard this wonderful 65' catamaran. BTW, Alii Nui is Hawaiian, and means "Of Highest Royalty"--perfect sailing vessel for "Princess Bev."

The crew of the Alii Nui hoisting the mainsail. Bev & I enjoyed a fantastic food & wine sunset cruise aboard this wonderful 65′ catamaran. BTW, Alii Nui is Hawaiian, and means “Of Highest Royalty”–perfect sailing vessel for “Princess Bev.”


Surfer near Ho'okipa Beach, North Shore, Maui. © Carl Amoth

Surfer near Ho’okipa Beach, North Shore, Maui. © Carl Amoth


Surfer near Ho'okipa Beach, North Shore, Maui. © Carl Amoth

Surfer near Ho’okipa Beach, North Shore, Maui. © Carl Amoth


Enjoying the appy prelude to an absolutely incredible meal at Momma's Fish House. This was our favorite restaurant in the Hawaiian Islands. It's right on the ocean, so you smell the salt air of the Pacific, feel the gentle breeze, and hear the pounding surf of the north shore. Multi-sensory Nirvana. Excellent service too. If you're ever in Maui, don't miss it!

Enjoying the appy prelude to an absolutely incredible meal at Momma’s Fish House. This was our favorite restaurant in the Hawaiian Islands. It’s right on the ocean, so you smell the salt air of the Pacific, feel the gentle breeze, and hear the pounding surf of the north shore. Multi-sensory Nirvana. Excellent service too. If you’re ever in Maui, don’t miss it!

Until next time…

Mahalo nui loa,
Carl

Maui WOWEEE

Surfer near Ho'okipa Beach, Maui. © Carl Amoth

Surfer near Ho’okipa Beach, Maui. © Carl Amoth

Transition day to Maui was perfect. We finished up our Kona visit with me spending my last bit of quality time poolside while Carl worked on photos (as mentioned before, he’s not much of a lay-in-the-sun kind of guy). As I was sitting in my lounge chair reading and soaking up the sun, this young girl (20 something) comes up to her girlfriend in the chair next to me and the very first thing out of her mouth is “this is the worst day EVER!” Now, being the nosy and curious sort that I am, my ears instantly perked up to hear the rest of this story. I mean, oh my gosh, you are in HAWAII, what could possibly cause you to have “the worst day EVER!”? She then proceeds to say that when she looked into her beach bag this morning, her bathing suit top WAS NOT THERE! “I can’t believe it… this is like, SO horrible. I can’t believe this happened to ME!”

Now, understand we are across the street from a shopping marketplace that has a Macy’s as well as dozens of other boutiques and shops. But, according to “worst day ever” girl, she has already looked over there and that was no good. Apparently she’s looking for a perfect match to the still present swimming bottoms. She finally huffs away with a final “I am SO frustrated, this is just awful.” WOW. Really? If that really is her worst day ever, she has a world of hurt waiting for her.

Waikoloa Beach Marriott, Hawaii

Waikoloa Beach Marriott, Hawaii

View from our seat. Mokulele Airline

View from our seat. Mokulele Airline

Off to the airport for our puddle jumping ride (or should I say ocean jumping?). This time we actually have a co-pilot. I wonder what is the determinate factor on which flights get a co-pilot and which ones don’t. Our first (which was at night) did not, and this one (during the day) did… hmmm.

It was a smooth flight over on Mokulele Airlines and then off to pick up the rental car and check in at the Marriott Wailea Resort and Spa. I had forgotten that we actually stayed here for two nights three years ago on our anniversary trip. It is a great property and I love the fact that they have an adults-only infinity pool.

Our first day was one of relaxation and a lovely dinner at the Mala restaurant onsite. We shared a lovely Grilled Mahi Mahi, a salad, and a nice black bean soup.

Cheeseburger Island Style

Cheeseburger Island Style

We walked over to the Shops at Wailea and had breakfast the next morning at Cheeseburger Island Style. We couldn’t decide between breakfast and lunch so we ordered the breakfast burger that came with egg, bacon and hash browns. Sounds really strange, but was exceedingly delicious. Carl had to try the Macadamia Nut pancake (even though he swore off baked goods a mere two hours before) and I got the guacamole and chips as an accoutrement.

Monday was a chill day with me taking a day for reading and relaxing by the adult pool, and Carl went off to the north shore to photograph surfers and waves at Ho’okipa Beach.

Surfer near Ho'okipa Beach. © Carl Amoth

Surfer near Ho’okipa Beach. © Carl Amoth

That evening we went again to the Shops at Wailea and had dinner at Longhi’s. This restaurant has been in business for 35 years and although a bit spendy, it was quite good. I had the Bolognese Pasta, which had a very delightful kick to it (I like a little heat in my meals). Carl had the Veal Scallopini with Piccata sauce. Both were very sizable portions (lots of leftovers, although no way to reheat them). Carl said it was one of the best Scallopini’s he’s had. We shared a bottle of Chianti for dinner and then some of the best coffee we have EVER tasted, Maui Oma Mokka. The most incredible flavor ever, this coffee is cultivated on the slopes of west Maui mountains. Definitely bringing some of that back with us.

Tuesday morning we found out that Kiluaea Volcano flowed into the ocean the DAY AFTER we were there! Oh well, next time perhaps. We planned to get off property and Carl mapped out our destination for the day – Iao State Park to see Kuka’emoku (Iao Needle) and then a continued drive around the western side of Maui all the way around to Lahaina and then back to Wailea. Along the way we stopped at Nakalele Blowhole along the Kahekili Highway. This is a very narrow, winding, often one-lane road and much like the road to Hana, although perhaps without as many great sights and waterfalls. We were planning to do the road to Hana again this trip, but after this long drive, decided we didn’t need to do it again.

Kuka‘emoku ('Iao Needle) in 'Iao State Park, Maui. © Carl Amoth

Kuka‘emoku (‘Iao Needle) in ‘Iao State Park, Maui. © Carl Amoth

'Iao Valley, 'Iao State Park © Carl Amoth

‘Iao Valley, ‘Iao State Park © Carl Amoth

Nakalele Blowhole, along the Kahekili Highway on Maui's northwest coastline. © Carl Amoth

Nakalele Blowhole, along the Kahekili Highway on Maui’s northwest coastline. © Carl Amoth

View of Haleakala Mountain on the horizon from the Kahekili Highway in Northwestern Maui. © Carl Amoth

View of Haleakala Mountain on the horizon from the Kahekili Highway in Northwestern Maui. © Carl Amoth

We stopped in Kaanapali for lunch at Leilani’s at Whalers Village. It was Taco Tuesday with $4 tacos and $5 margaritas. The fish and pork tacos were unquestionably some of the best we have ever had. They had just the right amount spice and sauce and the fish was so exceptionally fresh that it just melted in our mouth. We complemented the tacos with a side of sweet potato fries with garlic aioli and Carl eyed the dessert menu and decided on the Messy Apple Crisp. I chose my dessert in the fashion of Chips and Pico. This pretty much sums up our culinary proclivities. Give me salt and crunch, give Carl dessert and we are both happy.

We were back at the Marriott just in time for sunset; Carl had been waiting to capture a sunset picture by the pool and this was his perfect opportunity. A late snack for “dinner” and our day was complete.

Tip of the Day: One 8 oz bottle of suntan lotion will last two people for a 10-day trip.

Vacation Musings:

There are a few things I observe while on vacation and/or in Hawaii.

One: Why are couples inspired to wear matching Hawaiian clothing? I’ve seen young people, older people, even entire families all with the same Hawaiian print shirts and dresses. You don’t really see that any other time or place and I find it so amusing. I would love to ask someone why, but that would certainly appear rude and I wouldn’t want to offend.

Two: Why do men of all shapes and sizes think it is okay to walk around EVERYWHERE with their shirt off? It’s okay by the pool, I get it. But I don’t want to see your big, hairy belly as I am sitting on my lanai. I don’t want to see your sagging man boobs as I have my morning coffee. NO ONE wants to see that. So, unless you are built like Bradley Cooper, just don’t do it.

Create your own comment here... Kaanapali, Maui.

Create your own comment here… Kaanapali, Maui.

Three: Why are vacationers so fascinated by the artificial Christmas Trees in Hawaii? I mean, this is one of the most beautiful natural areas on the planet. Day after day we see one person after another stop and take pictures of fake trees. Yes, we know it is Hawaii, and it does look unusual to see decorated trees at the beach, but is it really that noteworthy? So, here is our picture of someone taking a picture of a tree… musings, just musings…

Infinity Pool at Wailea Beach Marriott Resort & Spa. © Carl Amoth

Infinity Pool at Wailea Beach Marriott Resort & Spa. © Carl Amoth

Now THAT'S an Infinity Pool. Wailea Beach Marriott Resort & Spa, Maui. © Carl Amoth

Now THAT’S an Infinity Pool. Wailea Beach Marriott Resort & Spa, Maui. © Carl Amoth

Ahhhh... that classic Maui sunset... just a few steps from our door. Wailea Beach Marriott Resort & Spa. © Carl Amoth

Ahhhh… that classic Maui sunset… just a few steps from our door. Wailea Beach Marriott Resort & Spa. © Carl Amoth

Sunset view from our lanai. Wailea Beach Marriott Resort & Spa. © Carl Amoth

Sunset view from our lanai. Wailea Beach Marriott Resort & Spa. © Carl Amoth

Volcanoes Day

View from the summit of the tallest mountain in the world, Mauna Kea, Hawaii. It's 33,500 ft when measured from the ocean floor. © Carl Amoth

View from the summit of the tallest mountain in the world, Mauna Kea, Hawaii. It’s 33,500 ft when measured from the ocean floor (13,803 ft above sea level). © Carl Amoth

After so much time in the car the day before, I was ready for a little chill “Bev” time, and Carl isn’t so much for sitting by the pool reading. Up again at 6:30 a.m. and Carl is out the door by 7:00 on his way to Mauna Kea, the tallest mountain in the Pacific at 13,803 feet, and the tallest mountain in the world when measured from its oceanic base—33,500 ft—taller than Mount Everest!

Carl on Mauna Kea's 13,803 ft summit with snowball in hand. This is one of the best sites in the world for astronomical observation, hence the numerous observatories.

Carl on Mauna Kea’s 13,803 ft summit with snowball in hand. This is one of the best sites in the world for astronomical observation, hence the numerous observatories.

Pressure! Carl's Water Bottle after the 13,800 ft descent from Mauna Kea to the resort at sea level.

Pressure! Carl’s Water Bottle after the 13,800 ft descent from Mauna Kea to the resort at sea level.

I spent the morning poolside with a couple of good books and magazines and experienced the perfect awareness of “hang loose.” Carl was back a bit after noon and then we set off for Hawaii’s Volcanoes National Park. On our way to the Park, we stopped at Umauma Falls as our books clearly identified this three tiered waterfall as “not to be missed.” It was spectacular, but it is $10 per person to enter and I’m not sure it is 100% worth it. Stunning, yes, but you can’t get near the falls so you are essentially paying $20 to take some pictures. Now, if you are the adventurous sort, they do also have a significant zipline course. We’ve ziplined on previous trips to Kauai, and this one was particularly spendy, so we passed on it. Plus, we really didn’t have the time as it is about a 2½ hour drive ONE WAY to the Volcanoes National Park.

Umauma Falls, Big Island, Hawaii. © Carl Amoth

Umauma Falls, Big Island, Hawaii. © Carl Amoth

We also did a drive by at Akaka Falls, but again, due to time constraints, we couldn’t hike in or linger. We stopped in Hilo for dinner at Hilo Bay Café – my grass fed gorgonzola burger was delicious (as was the truffle aioli dip for my fries), Carl’s Flaxseed Sweet Potato burger didn’t quite agree with him….

It’s now dark, but that’s what we wanted to see the volcano as it will be glowing in the nighttime. It was quite breezy and cold at the top of the volcano (we are still in shorts and T-shirts), thankfully I have my pashmina (the ALL PURPOSE blanket, wrap, sweater, beach towel). Although we can’t see flowing lava, we could certainly see the boiling caldron-like core of the volcano. Definitely worth the trip, however, we now have our 2 ½ hour drive back to the Marriott. Carl has already done the Mauna Kea trip this morning (3 hour drive) so he is absolutely exhausted and he actually, get ready for it now, he ASKED ME TO DRIVE! I never drive. Not that I can’t, it’s just that Carl likes to drive and I’m fine with that. It was my turn and even in the dark curvy roads of Hawaii, I was up for the challenge.

Kilauea Caldron, Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii. © Carl Amoth

Kilauea Caldron, Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii. © Carl Amoth

We arrived back safe and sound and ready to for a quick change of clothes as we have been graciously invited for a nightcap and snack with our new (ok, MY new) friends, the Lanakila’s at their neighboring hotel the Mauna Lani (they live near Volcanoes NP, but are on our side of the island for a family celebration). As readers of our blog, Daerick took notice of my fondness for champagne and they had a lovely bottle chilled for us as we arrived along with a host of gourmet cheeses, crackers, guacamole, apples and coconut cake. It was another lovely end to a splendid day. Yet again there were no lulls in our conversation as we covered a gamut of topics and got to know each other even better. A look at my watch and I couldn’t believe my bleary eyes, but it was nearly 12:30 a.m. With promises to come back (and open invitations for them to visit), we bid our dear friends adieu and called it a night.

Tomorrow: transition day to Maui…

Oh – I’ve been forgetting our “funny story” inserts, so excuse me while I back track to Wednesday’s arrival. We travel with our Nalgene water bottles and they fit nicely on the side of the backpack. Carl had made a point of telling me to use the little strap on the side to lock in the water bottle so they don’t fall out. I made a comment at the time that I travel with my water bottle all the time and it never falls out of my bag. I complied nonetheless until one point when we got to the Maui airport after a very long 6 hour flight and we were searching for a place to eat as we had a two hour layover before heading to Kona.

"Secured" Nalgene water bottle

“Secured” Nalgene water bottle

Unfortunately, all of the restaurants are on the other side of security and our flight was at a commuter terminal with nothing but a counter. I was about to have a melt down. Six hour flight, didn’t eat much of the meal on the plane as it was a tasteless, highly caloric pasta dish and that was not how I wanted to start vacation. So, we are walking up and down the terminal looking in vain for a restaurant when we realize all we have is Starbucks. As we turn around to head to the Starbucks, Carl says “hey, isn’t that your water bottle?” Yes, it was. Laying right there on the floor of the airport where millions of feet had tread. My bottle. Dammit. Yes, I’ve locked it in ever since then.

Some of the observatories on the summit of Mauna Kea. Mt Haleakala, in Maui, is visible on the horizon (some 80 miles away). © Carl Amoth

Some of the observatories on the summit of Mauna Kea. Mt Haleakala, in Maui, is visible on the horizon (some 80 miles away). © Carl Amoth

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