Friday, September 24, 2010

The art of doing nothing

I was recently watching the second Sex and the City movie and a comment Miranda made stayed with me.  Their first morning in Abu Dhabi, Miranda announces at breakfast something to the effect that, due to her type-A, controlling, over-organized personality she’s scheduled a complete day of fun.  (Incidentally, their day does look pretty interesting, involving camel-back riding, lunch in the desert, and karaoke that night.)  But what struck me is the oxymoronic “planned fun”. 

Now of course when it comes to travel lots of planning IS involved.  It would be a waste of time, for instance, not to book a room Christmas week in Hawaii and then have to spend one of your precious vacation days driving around trying desperately to find a place to stay the night (this happens more frequently than you’d think).  Or, to travel to say, Abu Dhabi, and strut down the middle of the public market with revealing clothing (as Samantha does) because you didn’t do your homework and understand this to be highly disrespectful.  It’s important to crack a map open and get a feel for where you’re going, understand something about the local culture, weather, and sites, etc. 

This said, it’s also important to allow yourself the freedom to relax and have some unstructured/unorganized/unplanned time – especially in a place like Hawaii, which is so incredibly laid-back.   It’s hard to accept this for many travelers, especially mainland travelers who are used to living pretty faced-paced lives.  Don’t get me wrong, I totally understand this.  Before moving here when we came to visit, it took me several days to slow down, relax, realize my work-world wouldn’t come crashing down without me and that it was actually perfectly okay to turn off my phone and not sneak furtive glances at email.  We’ve had guests actually admit to us that they would feel guilty if they spent a day just lounging around on the lanai – even if they wanted to – because there’s so much pressure – from friends/family/guidebooks/so-called experts, etc. – to squeeze certain things into a visit to Hawaii. 

We had some guests earlier this year finally put a name to the guilt-free experience of relaxation: La dolce far niente.  Translation: the art of doing nothing.  Apparently there’s no shame in this in Italy, and we think this is fantastic and admirable.  So as you plan your visit to the Big Island, make sure you allow for some freedom and rest.  It’s the slow days, after all, that really are the most fun.  Here are our favorite – and our guests’ favorite – non-doing things to do:

  • Sunbathing on the lanai
  • Reading a book in the shade on the lanai
  • Drinking beer and reading in the sun on the lanai
  • Floating in the pool
  • Sitting in the hot tub
  • Spending the afternoon under a tree at Manini Beach reading and snacking
  • Eating BBQ from Big Jake’s and sunbathing at Hookena
  • Spending the day sunbathing and body-surfing at Kua Bay
  • Pub-crawling Kailua (we suggest Kaiso and Bistro Yokohama)
  • BBQ’ing on the lanai and watching the sun set
  • Having an outdoor massage after a morning at the beach

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