Anand Gupta, 37, the sales director for a biotech software firm, has just returned from a trip to Hawaii with wife Namita and kids, Simran, nine, and Armaan, three. The holiday, he says, threw up a new bonding opportunity for the family: snorkelling.
What was the defining moment in Hawaii for you?
Just lounging on the beach. On a typical day, we would get into our swimsuits and head down to the sands with a drink. In that sense, we weren’t different from most tourists—though, yes, we were slathering on sunscreen, not suntan lotion.
We discovered beaches of white, black and red sand—at Makena, Wai’anapanapa and between Ka’uiki Hills and Kaihalulu, respectively—swam in the crystal blue waters and, when we’d had enough of both, ventured out on a catamaran and went scuba-diving. Simran joined us in snorkelling; we even swam with a 5ft-long green sea turtle for a while.
That was on your agenda even at the planning stage?
We did trawl the Net for things to do, but didn’t do much planning. We wanted to relax completely, and Hawaii let us do that. We were there from 17 to 24 May; the last day, incidentally, was our 10th wedding anniversary.
Most people think Hawaii is expensive. Did you find it so?
We stayed at the Ritz Carlton at Kapalua in Maui. So, everything —from a smoothie to a spa session—was expensive. But beyond the hotel precincts, there are any number of excellent, affordable restaurants and things to do. For $60 (about Rs2,500), one can take a submarine ride, for $20 more, one can go sky surfing. The kids loved the Hawaiian Aquarium at the Maui Ocean Centre, where the entry was $25 for adults and $16 for kids. And, of course, the sun and sea are all free.
You didn’t want to do any sightseeing?
Actually, we had been to Hawaii three years ago and had done the Kaupulehu crater and the volcanic trail nature walk. It was quite liberating, not having a must-do/must-see list this time. We fully realized the meaning of the local saying Maui no ka oi , which translates to “Maui is indeed the best.” There’s something there for everyone.
One day, I signed up for half a day of deep-sea fishing around Lanai. We caught a 6ft fish called the wahoo. Another day, I took off by myself for the Plantation Golf Course, laid amidst pineapple plantations and a reserve forest. It’s the Mercedes Benz championship course, part of the PGA tour, and supposed to be a favourite of Tiger Woods.
While I was out on the greens, Namita and the kids went for a lei-making class. Leis (garlands or wreaths) are apparently used on every special occasion, from welcomes to greetings. They loved the experience.
What about the food and drink?
We’re experimental with food only to an extent. Plus, while travelling with kids, one does tend to fall back on Subway and McDonald’s.
Maui is famous for its pineapples, so they use the fruit in everything. We loved a pineapple-and-vodka drink, and another cocktail called the Hawaiian Blue, a vibrant electric blue drink with vodka, curacao and lime juice. We tried the Mahi-Mahi—a soft, tender sea fish—a few times.
But the most amazing experience was the luau (an open party) at the Ka’anapali beach. By day, it’s Hawaii’s No. 1 beach. As soon as the sun sets, the dancers and musicians come out, along with a fantastic selection of local cuisine, such as chicken luau, made with taro leaves and coconut milk, Huli-Huli chicken, a barbecued dish, and Haupia, a traditional coconut-flavoured dessert.
What did you bring away from Hawaii?
Local macadamia nuts—honey- crusted, chocolate-coated, Kona coffee-glazed, wasabi-flavoured —make great gifts. But I think the golfing experience is one of my most precious memories. I used to play once in a while in Bangalore, but the round in Hawaii has made me want to take it up seriously.
Hawaii also made me see how much all four of us enjoy the water. We’ve got ourselves a snorkelling kit each and now plan to explore the seas wherever possible.
As told to Sumana Mukherjee. Share your last holiday with us at firstname.lastname@example.org