Hawaii may no longer be an exotic destination, but its beaches, volcanoes, waterfalls and rainbows still beckon, as do famous locales such as Waikiki, Haleakala, Lahaina and the Na Pali Coast. Today’s visitors can also expect new cultural and adventure experiences, as well as world-class golf and tropical spas. Each island offers distinct delights.
For its admirers, there’s truth behind the old saying “Maui no ka ’oi” — “Maui is the best.” The Valley Isle offers fine white-sand beaches, sunrises above dormant volcanoes, ocean vistas along the rainforest road to Hana and enticing shops and restaurants in the historic former whaling center of Lahaina. Maui also boasts a state-of-the-art marine park, humpback whale watching in winter, world-class windsurfing, upcountry farms and ranches, and the islands’ largest ancient temple, Pi’ilanihale Heiau.
Hawaiian weather is pleasant all year; the winter holidays are the busiest season.
Honolulu’s Pegge Hopper Gallery displays the works of its namesake artist. Her striking depictions of island women are imbued with a dignified, languorous sensuality. Both originals and prints are available. I also recommend stopping in Hawaiian Quilt Collection, with four Honolulu locations, which sells handcrafted pieces with custom and traditional Hawaiian designs. Look for comforters, pillow covers, wall hangings, runners and bags.
A Hawaiian Cruise
Instead of hopping from resort to resort, consider opting to sail aboard UnCruise’s 36-passenger Safari Explorer. Seven-night journeys from the Big Island to Molokai, with stops at Maui and Lanai, are especially memorable. The trip includes ports of call inaccessible to larger vessels — notably Molokai, which is closed to other cruise ships — and affords wildlife sightings difficult to experience on your own, the whale watching being particularly good.