One may have to look a little deeper amid all the high rises and hordes of tourists, but this legendary feeling of Aloha and ambiance of old Hawaii still exist.
"Kau ke keha I ka Uluna" - Work is done, don't worry. The Hawaiians of old didn't know their islands would become the world's number one playground. What they did understand of their untouched beauty and richness of the land was their magical spirit of Aloha.
On Oahu your choices are endless. What your travel agent might not be so familiar with are the boutique hotels like the new Colony Surf at the foot of Diamond Head on Waikiki's exclusive Gold Coast. Its understated elegance of cool marble and Koa wood-accented lobby, cream-colored Balinese styled rooms and gracious dedicated staff make this recently updated, sophisticated hotel one of the most friendly and inviting places to lay your head. David Paul's restaurant on the second floor erupts with flavor as does his famed restaurant in Lahaina on Maui. For other restaurants capturing the essence of the Pacific Rim, Keo's, Roy's and newly opened Indigo in the heart of downtown Honolulu - are not to be missed.
For a day's escape to one of the island's most beautiful beaches, you need to rent a car and drive to the windward side in search of Waimanalo and the unlikeliest of signs - Bellows Air Force Base. Off the main highway a half mile or so through a forest of ironwood trees you'll come upon an almost deserted beach that stretches for miles, with powder-like white silk sand and soft turquoise water. Further along and around the island, you'll come to the sleepy town of Kailua and its own magnificent three-mile crescent beach. Look for signposts pointing to Lanikai, just off the beaten track, yet accessible. A private waterfront residential area and gorgeous secluded beach fronting the two Mokalua islands is yours to discover.
To experience the vast expanse and volcanic majesty, there is nothing that compares to the Big Island of Hawaii and her Waikoloa coast. The Orchid at Mauna Lani, one of Sheraton's World Luxury Collection hotels quietly awaits her guests - like a pale sapphire surrounded by royal palms, jagged onyx lava and a lapis blue ocean that stretches as far as the eye can see. Formerly built by the Ritz Carlton, this impressive resort typifies a spectacular manner with its impressive orchid-laden lobby, caressed by gentle tropical breezes, Polo lounge cocktail bar, and the open-seating restaurant, 'Browns Beach House', where awaits a creatively designed menu offering fruits from the sea and sunset views that will take your breath away.
Your personalized helicopter flight will make you appreciate the immense size of this island from the contrasting snow-capped peak of Mauna Kea to the fiery-tempered vents of Madam Pele's Kilauea volcano and the dramatic cliffs of the Kohala Coast. The big island's magic can be felt long after you leave. Like the legend of a lei cast from a departing ship, should the lei reach the shores, you are sure to return. This, too, is true for Hawaii secretly woos all who visit her, gently back again.
Maui boasts the largest number of favored places to say anywhere in the world. From remote Hana to mini-city Ka'anapali to the old-world charm of Napili. After being pampered by personalized service and being embodied by the spirit of Aloha hotel style, Napli Point Resort was to be our home. Right on the water, this self-contained, one-bedroom, living room, kitchen, bathroom unit with private oceanfront, was ideal for setting one's own pace. Pristine beaches, a bay filled with gentle green turtles and Humuhumunukunuku apua'a, breaching whales in the distance; all this, eventually kissed by red, orange and purple skies, then filled with a million stars of light. Not hard to take as you sip your sundowner Mai Tai and grill your lemon ginger-teriyaki marinated Mahi Mahi.
Back at the Colony Surf, the night before we returned to reality, on our pillows lay a simple card He Manu Hanai Ke Kanaka Na Ka Moe - "Man is like a bird belonging to the realm of sleep... Dreams guide us and care for us." Dream on, for Aloha, does exist and awaits you in paradise.