On To The Valley Isle – My Hawaiian Diary (Part Five)   Leave a comment

Nestled between modern-day Coach and Cartier lies the Pink Palace of the Pacific. Through the Coconut Grove Garden (once the location of a royal summer palace) and up the steps brings us to the open concept tiled lanai of the Royal Hawaiian.

I sense that it’s a 1920’s build and I wouldn’t be surprised to see a cigar-holding Clark Gable, legs crossed, seated in one of the rattan chairs. The morning breeze meanders its way around columns and through the grand hall where it escapes across the azure canvas that is the Pacific Ocean. The view is stunning! In my minds eye, I am seated across from Clark, wearing a flapper dress and pearls, without a care in the world but in reality we are taking one last look at Waikiki before moving on to the island I have been looking forward to the most…The Valley Isle.

Approaching Maui

During our 30 minute flight, which takes us over Molokai, nose glued to the window watching for whales…unfortunately, I see none. As we begin our descent, I worry that we left the sun back in Oahu even though the pilot announces that it is 30C.

The Ka’anapali Villas are behind the cloud-shrouded West Maui Mountains. From Kahalui airport, the Kuihelani Hwy 380 is two-lanes with the mountains dead ahead and a flat expanse of green on either side. My spirits do the elevator drop with every mile we travel and I worry that our days here will be sunless but as we round the bend just past Maalaea, my hopes soar as we literally land smack-dab in another world. Each twist and turn brings with it a new vision as the now single lane road snakes its way along the coast. To our right the mountains, to our left the expanse of the ocean; a gorgeous layer of sapphire encrusted with a million shattered diamonds. Palm trees stand between us and the deep blue sea and the further we travel, I truly believe that I have finally landed on that ‘little piece of paradise’ I’ve been looking for.

Ka’anapali Beach

Our Friend Crabby

Sky from Ka’anapali Beach

With a hasty glimpse of our room, we cross the lawn to the beach. Barely a soul in sight, the sand is a gloriously deep golden brown, the colour I hope to be when we leave and we throw ourselves into the salty waves for a late afternoon swim and enjoy the view of rainbows over the mountains.

An evening drive takes us further north along the coast. This stretch of road is a zig-zaggy single lane with sections where we must blow the horn and then creep slowly round the bend for fear of a head-on collision. One wrong move and we could be smashed up against the cliff walls or sent hurtling over the edge. It’s the scary kind of excitement where the destination is worth the journey even with all its perils. Adventurous we may be, stupid we are not as we realise we left too late to go all the way around the mountains. It’s getting dark and the only lights are ours so we find a spot in the road (after driving quite a bit further) and turn to head back from Kahakuloa Bay.

Atlantis Submarine – Although nothing like, and nowhere near as big as the sub in Pearl Harbor, at least in this one we are going to dive, dive, dive!! No scrambling for window seats here as we each have a port-hole and, a few safety instructions later, we’re ready to go. In no time at all, huge fish come into view, sauntering along and peering in at us, as though they were on a sightseeing tour of us instead of the other way around. Levi, our guide, gives an excellent narrative as we move along, and all the while the Captain is turning the sub so that both sides get equal views. There was an anchor from the early 1900’s and a Moray Eel popped his head out every now and again from some coral, as if playing with us. We landed on the ocean floor at a depth of 150’ for a moment and were surrounded by plankton that actually looks like a thousand little trees growing in a forest.

West Maui Mountains

The BIg One

Plankton at 150′

Back on land, we stroll the stores and galleries of Lahaina. Once the capital of Hawaii and a royal playground Lahaina’s roots run deep, deeper than those of the famous banyan tree with it numerous entwined limbs. At sunset, Mynah birds settle in its branches and provide a symphony of screeches, probably the most noise you’ll hear in an evening. The nightlife in this small town is busy but low-key….no loud drunken voices, no screeching tires. All in all, a cool place to hang out!

The next morning finds us back in Lahaina for our surfing lesson. I know Shay is a little apprehensive but I also know that once she gets started she will absolutely love it. The lesson starts with learning how to get on the board, stay on, stand up and ride the wave, in one swift movement. Of course, we’re still on the sand which is quite different from being in the actual surf! Paddling our boards out to the buoys, we wait for our instructor to call us over.

Getting Ready

Riding a Wave

Willy is one cool character with an incredible laugh and a supportive nature. The company motto is that you ride a wave or your money refunded so he worked really hard to ensure that everyone was pushed to their full potential. Holding onto our board, he waits for the right wave and then pushes us off while reminding us how to stand up. Shay mastered it really quickly and before long was riding a nalu (wave) and was then off into deeper water to ride longer waves. It took me a little longer to be able to stand but once I did, it was amazing. I surfed for the first time when I was about 10 and believe me it’s a little different when you try it again 33 years later, but, I was determined to ‘hang ten’. By watching Shay I can tell she absolutely loves it and her first question will be “When can we go again?” Our 2 hours flies by but, for now, there is more of the island to explore.

Next stop…Haleakala Crater

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