And why should one dodge surfboards and incoming outriggers at Waikiki, for example, when surely the world's best place is the black-sand Hamoa Beach at Hana—which is claimed by Author James Michener to be the most perfect Hawaiian beach in the world? There are a lot of old-time islanders, anxious to keep it to themselves, who feel he ought to have his typewriter taken away for that one.
The key to all of this, finding the hideaway Hawaii, is escape, a commodity that grows more and more scarce as civilization and the hotel builders stalk the land. The idea this year should be to spend an entire day, a week if possible, without seeing one person wearing that plastic-covered name tag on his flowered shirt. You know the tag. It says something like Slapdash Tours across the top. And then: "Hi there! My name is [penciled in] Horace Trindle. What's yours?"
But one must hurry. The Kona coast of Hawaii will be the next to go, although there is still time, a year or so perhaps, to see it in its unspoiled state before it becomes hotel row on the hillside. The hamlet of Kailua-Kona already has a parking problem, which is grimly prophetic, and the town now has its own delicatessen—which is a harbinger of bad times if there ever was one. Down at the far end of the town's main stem the Kona Hilton, which easily qualifies as one of the world's top 10 alltime ugly structures, is building a new addition to pump in more people, and all the land up toward Kona Village at Kaupulehu has been seized by developers who have something like a luxurious Levittown in mind.
But there are a few holdouts against the ravening crowd. Maui's little-known Hana Ranch, for example, is a working cattle spread first and a hotel second. It is one of the few resorts left that do not ardently solicit guests and is a place where, upon landing at the little airstrip, one is apt to be met by the manager in his own station wagon. On Molokai the rustic Hotel Molokai is in just the right state of falling apart to be comfortable and is much favored by deer hunters. The tiny (73 units) Kona Village resort on Hawaii is a discovery that one will never forget, complete with thatch-roof cottages and such-comforts as a wrecked 40-foot sloop on the beach which someone has thoughtfully converted into an outdoor bar.
Signal Companies, Inc., which owns Kona Village, intends to keep the place as pure as possible, spurred in part by the fact that it is one of the spots where Hawaiians themselves go to hide out, to swim, surf, hunt and sail. Randolph Gait, who runs it all from Honolulu but finds excuses to get over there as much as possible, has installed the world's most relaxed staff to operate the village. It includes Manager Klaus Kelterborn, a onetime Austrian ski instructor who still answers the telephone by shouting, "Here iss Klaus!" and Cyrus Green, a giant of a Hawaiian who will teach you to play the ukulele, dance the hula, sing Tiny Bubbles, catch fish or make a chi-chi (which is vodka, coconut syrup and pineapple juice; enough of them will make a vacationer wade out into the lagoon hunting for sharks). For extra touches not to be found at any other hideaway, the village maids put tiny fresh orchids on each guest's pillow when turning down the beds at night—and at the store there is a resident parrot named Mac who will bite any man who gets close but who coos lovingly at all women.
Across the Alenuihaha channel on Maui, Hana Ranch has surrounded itself with a tenderly groomed 18-hole pitch-and-putt course, each hole and tee marked by painted half-coconut shells, where the accepted golfing costume is bare feet and whatever else the guest feels he can get by with. "But the bar," says Assistant Manager Errol Kimura, "is our special pride. You have seen piano bars in big hotels? Or noisy cocktail lounges at resorts where you can't hear yourself think for the band and the clink of jewelry? Well, look at this."
Perfect. The Hana bar sits in the open air under an awninglike cover; it faces a lush green hillside where the drinker can contemplate the cows, who chew quietly and contemplate the drinker. And for a small extra charge, since the place is a working ranch, guests can saddle up and ride out with the Hawaiian cowboys and herd the same cows.
But life need not be all that pastoral. Any Hawaiian trip, if worked properly, can be full of capsule adventures, and there are a number of ways in which one can collect some souvenir lumps.
Hana's Hamoa Beach, never mind what Michener said about its beauty, also serves up a fine, hammering surf plus a strong undertow for the unwary. Best way to handle it is to 1) tell Jack, the lifeguard, to keep an eye on you and 2) don swim fins and use a paipo, which is a 44-inch-long bellyboard in anybody else's language. Anyone in reasonable condition can learn the fine art of bellyboarding in an hour or two, catching rides into the black sand that will leave you definitely dizzy and probably just as stoked as the ancient Hawaiians were over the same sport.
That's tame. Over at Kona Village there are real burial caves and real skeletons and bodies to be discovered. Manager Kelterborn and his wife Helen and their dog Pamplemousse will take you out to see them (although Pamplemousse will not go in the caves; he is scared to, uhh, death of them).