By Virginia Beck

A Hawaiian monk seal was caught hugging itself by British photographer Claire Lower. See her work at

Kaua‘i never fails to exceed our imaginations. Living in Hawai‘i for nearly 50 years, I still feel my heart expand in wonder to see the vast canopy of inky darkness spread overhead. A billion stars, planets, galaxies and the Milky Way strewn across the night. A full moon is a near meltdown event, so hypnotic it is dangerous to drive towards it. How glorious a night can be without the darkness being smothered in artificial lights.

Vacations are the spaces we create on calendars and in imagination. They are the places we anticipate and dream about, getting away from work and the normal schedules.

Days of idleness and beach trips, family escapes to the country or the mountains. Time to travel, celebrate graduations and weddings, explore and learn. Or maybe just stay home, playing with the kids and the garden sprinkler, or planning how to escape the kitchen. Barbecue at the beach always sounds more inviting.

The season’s flowering trees, the sounds of kids at play in the neighborhood, the charcoal and grilled fish smell drifting from down the street. I love the way everything changes with the longer days. Families packing up for the beach after work, taking off to meet up with friends and ‘ohana. Parties and luaus to celebrate something, anything, or maybe just nothing!

Visitors come full of plans and suitcases full of clothes they may never even wear, as bathing suits and shorts and T-shirts are perfect for so many activities. There is always the recovery day after the dizzying carousel of TSA, baggage claim, long flights, collecting people and bags and cars and getting to wherever.

The first day, people have plans, but soon, the day catches up with them. The sunny beach, the blazing light off the ocean, the complete exhaustion of relaxed muscles, with or without a Polynesian cocktail or beer at the beach soon sends people to rest. Palm trees mutter outside, and doves call in the distance. Long naps are often the rule. With or without a companion.

The second day, people are back to the lists of things we have to do, or see, or buy, or hike, or get photos to send home. The kids wake up earlier than the adults wish, but better to turn them loose somewhere safe than try to corral that turbulent energy.

Meals are planned, or not. Island adventures involve so many stops for flowers, or shave ice, or scenic restaurants, where meals can be short or long, and the next adventure planned out.

Local folks camp out a lot, especially on the weekends. It is cooler at the beach, where there is often a breeze, than in our houses, which are mostly without air conditioning. We have endlessly churning fans stirring overhead, giving flowery scented breeze a boost in the long afternoons.

The south side of the island gets stronger surf in summer, just in time for the end of the school year. Our local youth are out in full force when the surf is up. There is an extra surge in early morning or late afternoons, when they are off work. Visitors can get lessons and surf with experienced instructors, but this is no place for amateurs. Please do not let children try this unattended or where there is no lifeguard.

A local pleasure is to go up to Waimea Canyon on the Westside, to Koke’e, where there is a wonderful park, natural history museum and a convenient lodge for snacks or lunch. A picnic on the meadow there makes a great playground for kids to run shouting after each other, or the chickens, and burn off some energy before packing them back in the car.

Whatever you choose, be kind to each other, and make space for the crabbiness of kids who are hungry, tired of the car or who just need to burn off energy. And when you feel a bit crabby yourself, take a nap or go soak your toes in the shorebreak.

Remember, vacations go way too fast, and aloha makes it great!

  • Virginia Beck, NP and Certified Trager® Practitioner, offers Wellness Consultation, Trager Psychophysical Integration and teaches Malama Birth Training classes. She can be reached at 635-5618.


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