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A return to intoxicating Hawaii

by Ellie Bettle

This past week I was blessed to take my third trip to Hawaii. The one word to describe Hawaii is intoxicating, and this is for several reasons. Stepping off the plane, you are warmed by the Hawaiian sun; the average temperature all year round is 77. In the calendar year, only 37 days are 90 or above. The vegetation is beautiful and each time I travel to Hawaii, I am overwhelmed with the beauty of this special place. The beauty of the flowers amazes me each time I am here; in your hair, on the tables, on hallowed ground, and on statues are where you can find these beautiful flowers. The water in Hawaii is both gorgeous to look at and gorgeous to swim in. The hues are incredibly blue and as a general rule, Hawaiian waters average 77 degrees in the wintertime to 82 degrees in the summertime.

Tapioca pudding, cream filled homemade donuts, foods like sushi and chicken, and fruit…oh the fruits. The fruits in Hawaii are unlike any other (notably the pineapple). The best is Maui Gold which you can find at most farmer's markets. Oahu has all the conveniences…ABC stores are glorified Cumberland farms with souvenirs and beer, everything you might want…but of course we lived on fruit and macadamia nuts and mai tais!

Villa EEI BLK

This 8 bedroom villa is outrageously beautiful with its Balinese and Hawaiian design and gorgeous swimming pool. Set beachfront and convenient to west Maui action, this is an estate designed for a celebratory gathering with friends and family. dreams. Starting at $62,650/week

Villa EEI BLK, Maui

On Maui, we stayed 3 nights in a 2 bedroom beachfront cottage at the Inn at Mama’s Fish House, a short distance from the airport at Kahului. The Inn boasts one of the best dining spots in the islands. The restaurant is nestled in a beautiful coconut grove on the secluded white sand beach of Kuau Cove. This converted beach house restaurant is a memory of old Polynesia on Maui's North Shore. An award-winning menu teamed with unpretentious service and aloha spirit make Mama's Fish House an unforgettable restaurant experience in Hawaii. My favorite is lobster tail from the remote island of Tristan de Cunha!

Not far from the Inn is Baldwin Beach, a beautiful beach in the town of Paia and surf was up on the windy day we visited. We made our way upcountry one day to visit the towns of Haiku and Makawao. These towns are charming and very tropical, on the Hana Highway. We also familiarized ourselves with Ono gelato in Paia and every single store there.

We took a day to visit 6 WIMCO villas on Maui. In the area of Kapaulu, we visited villa EEI BLK right on the beach. We also looked at villa EEI LEI with its spectacular views in Ka'anapali. We took a break for lunch at Mala, directly on the water in Lahaina. The chef mixes crowd pleasers (huge Kobe-style beef burgers), local produce (organic when possible), a specials list of more upscale dishes (saffron-braised ahi over creamy polenta, grilled opah with mojo verde) and small-plate servings to create a casual waterfront restaurant that's a Lahaina hot spot. The tapas-style dishes are bigger than the usual grazing size. And while the regular menu items may read overly familiar---guacamole, fried calamari---they're all made with choice ingredients, often locally grown. What really sets this modern American bistro apart is its wine list, dotted with exclusive boutique vintages from California wineries. Reservations are recommended---try to grab a lanai table overlooking the water.

Villa EEI LEI, St Barts

Villa EEI LEI

An awe-inspiring 5 bedroom villa located on the west side of Maui with sprawling ocean views. The villa is spacious and fully loaded with all the conveniences you would want. A lagoon-style infinity pool, spa Jacuzzi, outdoor grill make this an ideal spot to soak up the Maui sunshine. This villa is perfect for a family vacation, or a group celebration. Starting at $13,265/week

Attending a luau should be on everyone’s bucket list. We chose the Luau at the Royal Hawaiian hotel, one of the first three landmark hotels on Waikiki beach which was a splurge but worth every penny. We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves for 3 hours as we wined and dined, educated and entertained.

The beauty of both Oahu and Maui, is that there are many different areas to explore. One such area on Oahu is in Laie, where you can tour the Polynesian Cultural Center and stop for a plate of garlic shrimp at the shrimp trucks. Then take a drive to Kualoa Ranch where Lost and Jurassic Park were filmed. This is a heavenly valley, so beautiful.

Another thing that makes Hawaii so special is the tradition, in dance and in song and in religion. They say that if you take a lava stone of the island in your luggage, you will have bad luck. I will walk under a ladder but I have not taken a rock with me off Hawaii.

Aloha!

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