Bruno Mars said “Hawaii is paradise. It sounds cheesy to say it, but there’s music in the air there”. While I, just like Bruno, don’t speak any Hawaiian, there is something magical about listening to an Hawaiian song. It captures you and brings you right back to that state of peace, a vacation mindset filled with the stillness, the sea and the stars. Basically, if you haven’t visited Hawaii, you haven’t been to paradise.
Hawaii is not a state of mind, but a state of grace.
I really enjoy spending time at the beach, but a trip isn’t complete without inhaling some of the cultural goodness a destination has to offer as well. For that reason, staying on an all-inclusive resort where you’re literally confined to the resort boundaries (as they’re usually situated in the middle of nowhere) is something that I only enjoy for a very limited amount of time, if at all. Preferably I’d like to pick a few places I want to visit, which in addition to old city centers and hidden churches always includes a number of different beaches as well. I then find a place to sleep right in the center of it all. I do value ocean view, so the more beach front the property is, the better.
To me, there’s nothing like falling asleep (and waking up) to the sound of real crashing waves. A sound machine with pre-recorded ocean sounds just doesn’t provide the same experience. On my first ever trip to Hawaii, I picked a home base in the quieter Kihei, on the beautiful island Maui. I enjoyed exploring the rest of the island from there in a rental car. And yes, I went all out on the rental car and drove a convertible since it was my first time there – and a great addition to what I call the “Experience Value” of the overall trip.
Since I enjoy cooking and don’t mind the experience of grocery shopping in a somewhat unfamiliar store (not sure how unfamiliar Safeway really can get, but still), I stayed in a low-rise beach front condo building. The unit I rented had a private balcony to enjoy breakfast, lunch, dinner – and the ocean waves. The beach was only a few steps away;there wasn’t even a road in between the building and the sandy beach. Expensive? Not at all, especially when compared to other hotels and resorts on the island – if you do the math and calculate the cost per person per night it turned out I’ve paid more for a hostel bed at times. It takes a bit of research up front, but it definitely pays off both in terms of money as well as Experience Value – every time.