The Pacific: Hawaii

Adventure and relaxation

Vintage Hawaii
On the edge of Waikiki, Bailey's Antiques & Aloha Shirts is testament to the obsessive collecting spirit of David Bailey, who has combed the islands for the richest assembly of Hawaiiana imaginable. Amid tiki-god mugs, hula-girl lamps, and battered ukuleles, the real attraction is the assortment of vintage aloha shirts which, depending on their rarity, can sell for up to $5,000. Bailey currently stocks over 5,000 shirts, including a limited line by Japanese designer Junya Watanabe ($300-$500), as well as floral-pattern shirts from Kalakaua and Kilauea. Take home one of watercolor artist Yvonne Cheung's sexy hula-girl and surfer-dude prints. At 517 Kapahulu Ave.; 808-734-7628.

—Shane Mitchell

A Classic Revisited: Maui To The Core
You can't get closer to aloha than the Hotel Hana-Maui, a 66-room refuge on an old sugar plantation in Hana. Getting there requires maneuvering blind hairpin turns and falling-rock zones (better yet, take a puddle-jumper to the town's tiny airport). But it's worth it. Recently updated, with teak and bamboo furniture, and Yvonne Cheung's watercolor murals, the cottages create a perfect spot to witness the natural drama taking place across the open channel, where Mauna Kea looms above a ring of clouds on neighboring Big Island. Don't miss the taro rolls and lilikoi babyback ribs in the open-air dining room or the new spa's traditional treatments. Then take a walk on black-sand beaches or a dip in rainforest waterfalls. Rooms, $295-$725. At 5031 Hana Highway; 800-321-4262, 808-248-8211;


Big Adventure: A Rough and Smooth Guide
Hawaii is a magnet for adrenalin freaks—kite boarders love Oahu's Windward Coast, kayakers paddle the flume on the Big Island, and paragliders drift above Maui's rainforest. But after flexing all that muscle, even thrill-seekers need pampering.

SURF THEN SPA IN OAHU At Hans Hedemann Surf School (two hours for $130; 808-924-7778; a pro circuit surfer will help you read the waves on Waikiki Beach and the North Shore (if balance is a problem, take bodyboarding or kayaking instead). Then watch local pros catch the sunset tide from the lanai of a Diamond Head Suite at the Halekulani ( $1,400; 800-367-2343; Finish with a sweet hibiscus lotion body wrap from the new hotel spa ($250).

SCALING NEW HEIGHTS ON MAUI Soar above Haleakala in a six-seat A-Star helicopter, banking steeply to view the oxide-red cinder cone and a forest ribboned with 1,000-foot waterfalls. Halfway down the volcano, the pilot will rendezvous with a Latatudes & Adatudes guide ($250; 808-661-7720; for a hiking trek into Haleakala Crater. (Or bump through ohia and eucalyptus forests on a Cannondale mountain bike.) Afterwards you'll be treated royally in the palatial Lokelani Suite at Four Seasons Maui ($2,850; 800-334-6284), overlooking Wailea Beach and the West Maui mountains.

HORSEBACK AND MAI TAIS ON THE BIG ISLAND Waipio Valley is a tropical enclave of counter-culture folks who prefer a laid-back life off the grid. Waterfalls carve grooves in the high ridges sheltering this hidden river dell. Drive down a narrow road overgrown with wild mangoes to meet wranglers from Waipio on Horseback, Inc. ($75 for a two-and-a-half-hour narrated ride around patchwork farms, jungle streams, and lotus ponds; 877-775-7291). Stop for a double-scoop of Kona-mudpie ice cream at Simply Natural in Honokaa (45-3625 Mamane Street; 808-775-0119) before returning to the lavishly updated two-bedroom Orchid Bungalow at the Mauna Lani Resort ( $5,200; 800-628-7815), where a butler will serve pupus and mai tais by the private pool.

RED-DIRT ROAD TRIP AND PICNIC LUNCH ON LANAI With the Manele Bay Hotel's 4x4 Adventure program on Lanai ( $4,122, three-night minimum; 800-321-4666), you can have the Makai Suite butler prepare a picnic lunch, and pick up a Jeep and a map at the lobby's porte-cochere. Head across Cook Island pine groves to Kane Puu nature preserve. Bounce along the Munro Trail to the summit of Lanaihale and dovetail through stands of mesquite to Shipwreck Beach, where you can watch boardsailors catch breezes in the strait between Maui and Molokai.


Islander To Know: The Vibe Tuner
Daniel "Kaniela" Akaka Jr.'s official title is Director of Cultural Affairs for the Big Island's Mauna Lani Resort, but that doesn't begin to describe his traditional Hawaiian role. Son of a Hawaiian senator, he also fulfills the duties of a kahuna—equal parts psychiatrist, priest, preservationist, and upholder of the ancient mana (spirit) of sacred places. To put it in pop-culture terms, he keeps the vibe tuned. He's frequently asked to do blessings for houses, weddings, and inaugural Aloha Airlines flights. Each month, on the Saturday night closest to the full moon, locals and guests gather with Akaka at Mauna Lani's fishponds to share songs, hula, pupus, and "talk story" about Hawaiian legends. At 68-1400 Mauna Lani Drive; 800-367-2323.


Off The Beaten Path: Eating Like a Local
Hawaiian food is a fusion: pickled mango, wasabi codfish, and lomi-lomi salmon all have a place at the table. To sample some of Oahu's best home cooking, start with a loco moco—a scoop of rice topped with a fried egg, hamburger patty, and mushroom gravy—at Sam Choy's Breakfast, Lunch & Crab ($7; 580 N. Nimitz Hwy.; 808-545-7979), or hot-from-the-fryer malasada doughnuts from Leonard's Bakery ($7.80 per dozen; 933 Kapahulu Ave.; 808-737-5591). For lunch get waffle hotdogs and peanut butter ono ono shakes at KC Drive Inn ($5; 1029 Kapahulu Ave.; 808-737-5581) before heading up the block for rainbow shave-ice studded with azuki beans at Waiola Bakery & Shave Ice II ($2.25; 525 Kapahulu Ave.; 808-735-8886). Still hungry? At Ono Hawaiian Foods you can try pit-cooked pork and haupia, a sweet coconut custard ($8.70; 726 Kapahulu Ave., 808-737-2275).


Great Find
• Construction worker by day, Maui native Verna Silva is a handbag designer by night, stitching silk-screened fabrics into brightly printed totes. $55-$75. At Mahealani's, at the Hotel Hana-Maui; 808-248-7231.

Culture Watch: New Wave
Oahu native Jack Johnson is Hawaii's answer to Dave Matthews. Before his folksy debut (Brushfire Fairytales was released in 2001), the champion boardrider made low-budget surf films. Since then he has appeared on Letterman and Leno and played the Hollywood Bowl. Don't leave for Hawaii without getting into the spirit with his latest collection of acoustic ballads, On and On.


Great Find: Bowled Over
Maui artist Ron Kent was given a lathe for Christmas 31 years ago. Now he crafts astonishing display bowls from locally grown Norfolk Island pine. Exquisite translucency is a trademark; the minimalist carvings are usually never more than one-tenth of an inch thick. A master at highlighting the wood's dramatic imperfections, knots, and color striations, it's no wonder he has produced works that have wound up in permanent collections at the Louvre, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the White House. From $2,500. Hana Coast Gallery, Hana, Maui; 808-248-8636.


Spa Report: Mud Pack Rim
ONE TO WATCH Two top-notch new spas are getting in touch with their South Pacific roots.

Four Seasons Maui has created a subdued retreat of cut granite, green marble, and tropical orchids that focuses on water therapies. The best treatment is the aquacranial therapy, administered while floating in Wailea Bay ($115). Also good is the marine-based OSEA facial, which uses a hydrating red-algae mask ($115). Ask about the sunset massage with coconut and kukui nut-lotion in an open-air oceanfront hale ($135-$190). 800-819-5053, 808-874-8000;

Facing a spectacular stretch of Waikiki Beach, Oahu's Halekulani evokes a tropical elysium, with Hawaiian-themed paintings and kapa-cloth murals from the hotel's art collection. Therapies in the seven serene treatment suites blend techniques from Samoa, Tonga, Tahiti, and Hawaii: a soothing Nonu gel massage with pohaku stones ($230) and a gentle foot-pounding ritual with pu'ili, the traditional wooden mallets used to accompany hula performances. 808-931-5322;


Up and Coming: The North Shore Thing
Beyond the high-rises towering over Waikiki Beach, the flipside-vibe of Oahu is best suited to the mellow guardians of Hawaiian culture. The North Shore is their turf. To get there, head north from Honolulu on the Kamehameha Highway (also known as the Kam Hwy.). Then turn east at Weed Circle toward the surf capital of Haleiwa.

Once a summer retreat for Hawaiian royalty, Haleiwa has several good art galleries, including Hoselton Studio (66-470 Kam Hwy.; 808-637-3000), which sells handcrafted calabash bowls and koawood furniture. The only place for surfing tips is the North Shore Boardriders Club (66-250 Kam Hwy., North Shore Marketplace; 808-637-5026). Outside town Waimea Bay has the best waves, along with Sunset, Banzai, and Ehukai beaches. You can swim in the pool below a 45-foot waterfall at Waimea Falls Park. If a one-day trip turns into two, Turtle Bay Resort (57-091 Kam Hwy.; 800-203-3650) has five miles of beaches and 42 stylish beach cottages. For dinner, explore the Euro-Asian menu at its new 21° North (808-293-8811).

Heading southeast toward Oahu's Windward Coast, you'll find the James Campbell National Wildlife Refuge (56-795 Kam Hwy.; 808-637-6330), a sanctuary for endangered bird species. Farther south, in the sugar mill town of Kahuku, pick up boiled shrimp and rice at Giovanni's Shrimp Truck (off the Kam Hwy. between Sunset Beach and Turtle Bay). In Laie, the Polynesian Cultural Center (55-370 Kam Hwy.; 808-293-3333) is a crash course on South Pacific heritage, complete with fire knife dancing. Before dovetailing back to Honolulu on the scenic Pali Highway, you'll want to seek the ultimate union of white sand and cobalt sea at the far end of Kailua Bay. Hidden but fabulous, Lanikai Beach is Blue Hawaii incarnate. Sans Elvis, of course.


Great Find
• Maui Coffee Roasters carries organic beans from across Hawaii. $12.95 a pound for Kaanapali. 444 Hana Hwy.; 808-877-2877.

Hotel rates range from the lowest-priced double to the highest-priced suite in high season. In most cases VAT is not included. Meal prices are for a three-course dinner for two, excluding beverage and gratuity.

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