Palms Cliff House
Honomu, Hawaii: Aloha Spirit
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NOTHING LEGITIMIZES LAZINESS quite like a veranda, particularly one with deep wicker chairs on a bluff overlooking the ocean, surrounded by fragrant plumeria. The Palms Cliff House, a Victorian-style inn that opened in August 2001 near Honomu, on Hawaii's Big Island, has just such a veranda, or lanai. It's wide and long and inviting, has commanding views of Pohakamanu Bay, 100 feet below, plus a sturdy railing that makes a fine footrest. It's possible—and preferable—to spend all morning on this lanai: Breakfasts of homemade quiche and fresh papaya are served here, and afterward you can sit, second cup of Kona coffee in hand, watching whales breach offshore. When it comes time to rally for your day's adventures, you'll find it almost impossible to leave.
Access & ResourcesDoubles, 5-5, including full breakfast. 808-963-6076 www.palmscliffhotel.com
But you will. The inn sits on the wild Hamakua Coast—well off the tourist track, on the tropical east side of Hawaii, 15 miles north of Hilo. Just inland from the lodge, the two-mile Akaka Falls Trail winds through rainforest to twin cascades that plummet some 400 vertical feet. A stream flows from these falls, widening in spots into generous swimming holes, and at its mouth is black-sand Kolekole Beach, wedged into a pocket-size valley and surrounded by treacherous ocean. Drive 45 minutes north and find ten miles of hiking among ulu trees, taro plants, and bamboo grass in the Waipio Valley, a mile-wide gulf of green fronted by a rocky, surf-battered beach.
Back at base camp, the eight guest suites are luxurious: marble bathrooms, plush carpets, and four-poster beds dressed with Italian lace sheets. Most have their own Jacuzzi with ocean views, but don't miss the outdoor spa in the garden, choked with orchids and blue ginger. Later, enjoy takeout ahi rolls on your own lanai—smaller but no less perfect than the grand veranda—and the sweet realization that at least for now, there's nowhere you need to be but here.