Enter the Hyatt Kaanapali grounds through the back lot near the spa, where free parking is almost always available, and stroll into the Japanese Gardens. Enormous koi swam in the tranquil pool below the waterfall. Notice the flock of fluffy, feathered long-legged birds strutting and preening across the way. The flamingoes roam freely on the tidy grounds amid ancient-looking statuary and tropical blooms. Approached stealthily, the birds are undaunted by the face to face encounters with little tourists. But
keep walking, there’s more.
Stroll over the bridge that spans two ponds where black and white swans huddle in their separate ends of the water and proceed over a traditional Japanese footbridge. In the garden, waterfalls spill down a lava boulder collection and a sprawling tree begs for climbing. Kids enjoy straddling the spreading branches situated at the ideal height for little people. How long has it been since you sat in a tree? A path leading up a hill toward a little lookout point becomes a momentary secret hideout. But there‘s more.
Swans, flamingoes and parrots, not indigenous to Hawaii, could have been the "special thing" on your treasure hunt, but there something else waiting. Continue on past the towering sculpture of the acrobats, an impressive bronze navigational globe, the swim-under waterfall and reflective grotto caves of the hotel pool and sailboats. Look around. You found the surprise!
Penguins! In a shady, cozy nook adjacent to the Banyan Tree Café, your kids will be delighted to happen upon the troop of teeny, little African penguins who waddle about merrily posing for pictures. An educational placard explains that all penguins are from the southern hemisphere, but many live in climates not unlike Hawaii.
The Hyatt’s bird collection is so extensive that full time employees care for them. With luck, you might happen upon feeding time. Watch as the handlers take the macaws, parrots and toucan from their cages. More often, there are birds on display in the lobby where pictures ops are free, unlike what you’ll find on Front Street.
At the pool level there is a food court selling a grand assortment of beachside snacks, but beware! Soda here is $2.50 a can and two Goodhumor bars rang up at over $6. Instead, head to the ABC store at Whaler’s Village just a short walk from here, where the same soda is $.79.
That is, unless the free menagerie visit is leaving you feeling a bit flush. If so, splurge on a smoothie or shave ice and linger on the beach until sundown. The kids will love you for it.
by smmmarti guide
July 13, 2003
From journal Maui with Keiki