This is not our usual vacation style.
When we travel, Jack—ever curious, ever restless, ever full of energy—wants to visit every temple, cave, cathedral, historic monument, natural wonder, art exhibit, performance there is to see. He’s notoriously impatient when I call for a cappuccino break, less for the caffeine—thought that does help—than the chance to rest my feet and calm my over stimulated brain. He’s famous for saying, “But Anne, we need to bear down.” Many people would consider that remark facetious, but I know better.
Over twenty years, Jack’s breakneck vacation style has rubbed off on me. I never consider just resting as a proper vacation activity. So, when he proposed whisking me away to Kauai for a birthday celebration, I ordered a guidebook and circled all the things we might do on a week’s stay.
Of course we’d stay right on the beach—my choice.
I adore the power of the crashing surf, the strangely soothing violence of it, like the pounding heartbeat of the earth.
Some form of boating would be a must. I have ever loved being on the water, standing on deck, hair fluttering, feeling free as the wind. That’s an odd enchantment, I admit, for a women who can’t swim. There’d be a little beach time, of course, but just a bit. Neither of us finds relaxation while broiling in the sun.
To fill in our days I planned a hike to a waterfall, a cruise along the Na Pali Coast, perhaps with some snorkeling thrown in; a helicopter tour to the mysterious center of the island. Maybe horseback riding? I briefly entertained the idea of zip-lining through the rain forest, but recovered my senses before calling for a reservation. Middle aged ladies taking high does of Coumadin have no business zip-lining anywhere.
I packed a suitcase full of walking shoes, hiking shirts, insulated water bottles and tubes of bronzer and sunscreen.
Having planned the trip only a few weeks in advance, many places were sold out. Weather reports were iffy for the more remote, jungle-ly, northern side of the island where I’d first wanted to stay. Instead, I chose the sunnier Poipu Beach in the south. I worried about how well we’d like the condo I’d found, Kiahuna Plantation Resort, a collection of low-slung white buildings on a 32-acre expanse of lawn, coconut trees, and gardens. Scouring TripAdvisor netted contradictory reviews. Some correspondents loved it, while others complained that the pool was too far from the beach, the beach was too narrow, the surf too rough.
I had my answer the minute we walked into our apartment. The far wall was a floor-to-ceiling sliding glass door leading onto a partially covered lanai with dining table and two chaise lounges. Beyond that lay a twenty-foot strip of cropped lawn and, just over a low hedge, white-capped waves breaking onto the beach.
We dropped our suitcases, grabbed our books, and spent the afternoon lounging in our chaises-by-the-sea. The breezy, south-facing patio stayed cool all day.
I figured the real vacation would start the next day.
“Shall we go hiking?” I asked Jack after our alfresco breakfast.
“Naw, this is nice. Why don’t we just hang out here?”
My suggestions for horseback riding, snorkeling, and zip-lining elicited the same response.
So we’re spending the tamest of weeks: Morning coffee, then breakfast on the lanai, watching the ring-necked doves and yellow-billed myna birds hop across the lawn as, just beyond, the surfers and paddle-boarders slam through the waves. My book, Paul Theroux’s Honolulu Hotel, adds local color to the afternoon.
We took a drive up north yesterday but didn’t stay long. The beaches were gorgeous but crowded; traffic was ghastly, parking at the trailheads was nil, and shortly after noon it started to rain.
We returned to our sunny corner of the island and sat in low-slug chairs under a coconut tree and I wondered: Is it a sign of old-lady-hood that I’d rather sit on a cool shady lawn that get scorched and sand-logged on a hot beach? We tried swimming but the surf was too rough for my taste. I didn’t mind; I’d rather listen to a rollicking surf than play in a gentle one.
The boat trip I’d scheduled for last Friday was cancelled because of rough surf. Perhaps we’ll be able to go tomorrow, the scheduler told me. If not, ‘A‘ole pilikia—no problem. The lanai awaits.