In the ’80s my wife Shannon and I camped on the Big Island for 10 days, circling the island with our tent, sleeping bags and supplies. We swam in the ocean, grilled fresh fish we bought from the locals, and drank Mai Tai’s as we watched the sunset. It was an “excellent adventure.”
(On that memorable trip, we almost missed our flight home, because the airport X-ray machine detected a lime — for our Mai Tai’s — buried at the bottom of my duffle bag. The rules governing the transport of fruits and vegetables are strict, in this case an interisland connecting flight to the mainland, and we had to dig that lime out of the bag in a hurry).
We’ve been back to the Big Island about half a dozen times since then. In the high-flying days when I was Editor of CNET News “post-IPO,” we’d fly over and stay at the Mauna Kea Resort. (Nowadays we use “airline miles” to help soften the financial blow).
The Mauna Kea opened in July 1965 and was founded by businessman environmentalist Laurance S. Rockefeller. On a visit to the Big Island, he spotted the white sand, crescent beach of Kauna’oa Bay, went for a swim and decided to build a hotel that blended into the natural environment.
Rockefeller didn’t want the hotel to have radios, televisions or air-conditioning, which he considered negative “distractions of civilization”— more details here. (We have little use for the TV here as well, though we have been watching the Warriors and Raptors in the NBA finals).
A View of Hapuna Beach
This week, we’re staying at the adjacent Hapuna Beach resort. As the second phase in Rockefeller’s creation, the hotel property shares 1,839 acres of oceanfront with Mauna Kea Beach Hotel. (We’re burning up a 75,000 mile bonus from signing up for a Marriott Bonvoy credit card, which covers most of the bill, thanks to a tip from the PointGuy.com).
“Comfortably set in the bluffs, and with Mauna Kea, Mauna Loa and Kohala Mountains as a backdrop, it overlooks the beach that many consider the best in all of Hawaii,” as a local magazine puts it.
Our ocean-front room has a dead-on view of Hapuna Beach and Mauna Loa, which I can see in the background as I write this post. (It’s our “office” this week; we inevitably do some work on vacation). At night, we can hear the gentle sound of the waves.
The Hapuna Beach Resort recently was reflagged as a Westin and just completed a $46-million renovation. It has touched on every aspect, including the lobby, restaurants, amenities such as the pool area (an “adult” pool was added) and restrooms.
Our day begins with coffee on the lanai and a local papaya; then a swim in the ocean; and later might include a short drive for sightseeing, a snorkeling adventure or a walk along the beach. And naps. We’re also are planning a trip across the island to see the lava from the recent catastrophic eruption of Kilauea Volcano.
This trip is our graduation present to our 17-year-old son, who just wrapped up another splendid school year and deserved some R&R. We, of course, are benefitting as well.
The rest of summer is a little more active, with our son going to the weeklong California Boys State Conference in Sacramento, along with some other local high-school students; and the four-week long California Summer School for Mathematics and Science at UC San Diego.
We might tag along for a weekend to visit friends and go to the beach and the Del Mar horse races, a favorite venue. And before we know it, our son’s school will be back in session — mid-August, not post Labor Day, as it was for us California “baby boomers.”