The burial caves are out on the lava beds that surround Kona Village. The mountains off to one side are pockmarked with old volcano cones—and when the last one erupted in 1801, its flow ran down to the sea, leaving the small green notch where the village now lies. "So you see," says Klaus, "there really wasn't any other place to bury anybody."
The village has thoughtfully provided miners' helmets and flashlights for the visiting explorers. And sure enough, there are the bodies, in remarkable states of preservation, stretched out in the lava chambers.
And if skeletons don't do it, Kona Village can offer other new diversions that one will never find in the more plush places. The village lagoon, for some marine biological reason, attracts a gang of Manta rays in the evenings just past sundown. And since Manta rays are tame—well, they act tame—their appearance always brings a yell, "Hey, the rays are here!" and people will dash out of the dining room to go swim with them. "You simply hold onto the leading edge of their wings," says Klaus, "and they will pull you around all over the lagoon." It makes for a perfect end to a day.
While the rest of Hawaii, most of the mainland and much of the world sink slowly into the sunset of commerce, such places prove that there are still travel, adventure and sport hideaways left if one searches them out. There is no need to rough it and camp out on the beach; you don't have to hide away that far. The idea is to simply step out of the tourist parade for a few days. There is still time to see Hawaii before the cliches close in completely. One might even get the ultimate, vacation kick—like the doctor from Seattle.
This gentleman, an eminent gynecologist whose name is a household word in research circles, came to Kona Village to escape, to swim and sail. A refugee from luxury hotels and name-tagged tour groups, he went native. He let his beard grow and he lost his shoes. He put aside his pants and shirts and wrapped himself in gaily colored lavalavas. He gradually grew nut-brown. And over a mai-tai at the shipwreck bar he told what happened.
"I was just sitting out there on the beach," he said happily. "I was sort of staring out at the water and thinking about the terrible prospects of going back to work. Then along came this new arrival from the States. A real New York type. Fresh shorts from Blooming-dale's, the flowered shirt, camera around his neck, dark glasses—the whole thing. He nudged me with his toe and said, 'You fella gettum up me alia same boat to go sail in the lagoon?'
"Imagine it! He thought I was a beachboy!" It made his whole vacation.