When the pandemic hit, we all were held captive, stuck spinning in one place with no idea how many days we would be there. And within this basic backdrop of static existence, our freedom to travel became this enticing ideal that we longed to return to daily.
As the weeks dragged onto months, all our travel plans were postponed but cancelling the long-awaited and most anticipated family trip was by far the hardest pill to swallow. This annual pilgrimage to Hawaii had become sacred down time in some very busy schedules. Calendared months in advance, crossing the trip off our books was a painful moment for all of us.
Fortunately, as a family we came out of these worst of times, healthy and safe. We all got vaccinated anticipating when the world would re-open and we could jump at the chance to recapture our lost holiday.
We found our family vacation safe and sound just waiting for us in Maui and our happiness not nearly as elusive as we thought it might be.
We split our visit into two distinct spots in Maui. Our first days were in Kaanapali, the northwest part of the island and the remainder of our time in Wailea, located southwest. Our Kaanapali stay at the Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa felt comfortably nostalgic and familiar. We couldn’t wait to revisit the morning beachfront yoga classes, the spectacular rooftop star gazing experience, the massages at the Marilyn Monroe Spa and their famous Hawaiian shaved ice. The hotel opened a new pop-up Beer Garden a few nights per week, but our favorite spot onsite is still Japengo, their outdoor Japanese restaurant that’s the perfect spot to dine while catching a sunset.
As a family, we never miss a dinner or two in Lahaina town, one night at the always special, Lahaina Grill and this year we added a delightful authentic Italian dinner at Sale Pepe.
We took advantage of being close to the Lahaina Harbor early in the week to book 2 very different and memorable boating excursions. One was a dolphin watching trip with the Pacific Whale Foundation. The 3-hour trip was relaxing, informative and gave us an opportunity to see 2 different species of dolphins, spinners and bottle-nosed up close and frolicking in their natural habitat. The next day we set sail on one of the Trilogy catamarans for a day of snorkeling and swimming. We had such a good experience sailing with the super hospitable and friendly Trilogy crew, we couldn’t resist choosing them again this year for another fun day on the water.
Many pleasure seekers wishing to transport their minds often drink or inhale their way to realms not reachable otherwise. I just need to dig my feet into a wet sandy beach or have a close-up view of an infinite vista of the big blue sea to shift my perspective. The ocean affords me a perception of reality that is not always accessible. Whether out on a boat or just at the shore, I find myself in an altered state of consciousness, where the focus, range, and clarity of perception are dramatically changed.
Whatever gives us our senses, our intelligence, our desires, our will, our identity, and our present reality is somehow unlocked and nurtured. The world makes sense, my life has meaning, and my eyes see clearly.
The remainder of our days were spent at the glorious Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort. Set on a very quiet, serene part of the Island, we took these last days as an opportunity to just relax. Hanging out together in one of the beautiful poolside cabanas or leisurely strolling along the paved shoreline walkways, we spent our days simply catching up. A surprise engagement at Secret Cove Beach not far from our hotel gave us even more reason to celebrate.
We treated ourselves to an unforgettable evening at Mama’s Fish House. By far, the hardest reservation to get on Maui, it was worth every bit of pre-planning to experience this extraordinary meal.
One night we watched the Luau dancers from the luxurious Feast at Mokapu right on the lawn in front of our outdoor table at the famed Iron Chef, Morimoto restaurant. Another night we dined alfresco, listening to live music at the farm-to-table Ka’ana Kitchen. We relished over every meal, talking and laughing and experiencing the magic of Hawaii together.
If I learned anything from this year, it’s the importance of staying connected to those we love – to remember we are not alone. And maybe even more crucial, to pay attention. There seems to be nothing more generous these days than to pay full attention to someone you love. The whole field of mindfulness can be distilled down to that simple but oh-so-difficult task of staying totally present.
This family time gave us the perfect opportunity to practice this specific act of generosity, giving our full attention to one another.
Hawaii was a welcome return to the mental and physical paradise we had been missing for months.