Big Island Vacation, Episode I: Perfumes

Until recently I thought that Maui was my favorite island, so over the last many years that was our most frequent vacation destination. But this year we decided we wanted a change and, after a short hesitation, booked our trip to the Big Island of Hawaii. Just in case you were wondering, we hesitated because of the recent volcano eruption but then decided it would be fine. Luckily for us, many others were less adventurous, so … OK, I won’t say that we had the whole island to ourselves but it was much less crowded than it could have been.

Hawaii Big Island

We managed to pack a lot into six days we spent there, and I plan to cover some of the highlights in the next several posts. But I want to start with the most appropriate topic for this blog: perfumes.

Over years of going to Hawaii I collected a wardrobe of perfumes that I always bring with me.

The only full bottle of perfume that has ever traveled with me anywhere is Bronze Goddess by Estee Lauder. I bring it with me to every tropical vacation (Big Island, Kauai and Maui). This time though I used it less often than I normally do because we shared the condo with our friends, and I couldn’t do my usual ritual of walking to the fridge (where I keep Bronze Goddess when in Hawaii), spraying it all over my body and putting on my clothes after that. But it still got several generous applications during the trip and enjoyed it every time.

Hawaii Big Island Perfumes

My “vacation in a bottle” perfume – Ginger Ciao by Yosh – was as great on actual vacation as I remembered. Tiare by Ormonde Jayne and I have rekindled our friendship after a recent cooling-off, and both Tiare and its sister Frangipani felt wonderfully appropriate for the place.

Unexpectedly, I came to the realization that I should stop bringing to Hawaii Bombay Bling! by Neela Vermeire Creations. For years I thought it was a very good fit and kept being slightly disappointed: it didn’t smell as great as I remembered and usually would disappear too quickly from my skin. This trip we stayed in for dinner more often than went out, so I got to wear Bombay Bling! in a well air-conditioned room. Under these circumstances, with little heat or humidity involved, this perfume bloomed wonderfully, and I could still smell it in my hair throughout the night. So, while I still love it, no more Hawaii vacations for Bombay Bling!

Neela Vermeire Creations Bombay Bling!

L’Artisan Parfumeur’s Traversee du Bosphore and Byredo’s Pulp both are perfumes that I wear only in hot and humid weather, and these both were predictably good though I would prefer to spray them more liberally, which I couldn’t do this time: since the Island is called “Big” not for nothing, and it takes a couple of hours one way to get almost anywhere besides the close-by beach, we often voted for going somewhere in one car. And while it allowed us to spend more time in each other’s company, I had to be mindful of having four people in closed quarters for hours – so I was very discreet with my perfume application.

One more perfume that has proved absolutely not suited for the tropical weather was Selva Do Brazil by Parfums Berdoues. I brought my ScentBird decant of it with me thinking it would be just perfect there. It smelled very nice indeed… all 15 minutes that I could smell it either on me or on my vSO. I guess, Selva Do Brazi is one of those perfumes that are great to convey the idea of tropics rather than to be used there. Though, with hindsight, maybe it wasn’t that bad considering long car rides… Nah, probably still no.

I also did some testing of new for me perfumes, but I’ll probably leave it for the next post.

Hawaii Big Island Sunset

Do you have any perfumes that you always use for something particular – an event, place or something along these lines?

Images: my own

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Scents of My Hawaii Vacation

What did my Hawaii vacation smelled of? It smelled of freshly mowed grass on a golf course next to our condo; of papayas, mangos and dragon fruits we were eating for breakfast; of a night ocean breeze and sun-heated seaweed as we walked along beaches; of orchids (including the one that smelled like chocolate!), plumerias and other tropical flowers, of greenery wet with rain and of dusty lava fields – as we hiked in the volcano park; of 100% Kona coffee and white Hawaiian honey we tried at different coffee farms. But since it is not a travel blog I should probably write about more important stuff – perfumes.

Hapuna beach parkFor this week-long trip I decided to be “minimalistic”: one full bottle, one mini, one travel spray and two sample vials. I’ve voted against any new perfume testing not to skew the first impression by the unusual heat, humidity and … by being on a vacation.

You know how when you’re flying any airline they start the boarding with the first/business class passengers, then members of their super-duper-exclusive clubs, then… During this trip United has overdone itself: I couldn’t imagine there were so many special privileged categories. It felt like there were more passengers labeled one way or the other than “regular” ones.

My vSO and I have many small rituals and traditions when we travel together. One of the newest rituals is sharing Voyage d’Hermes scent for the flight. We use it from a mini bottle (dabbed, not sprayed) so it’s very light and not offensive to those around us but if we lean close we can get a whiff of it from each other. So my flight was scented by Voyage d’Hermes and, on a several occasions, by my neighbor‘s very strongly perfumed but luckily short-lived B&B Works’ Orange Ginger lotion (I didn’t ask, I recognized the scent).

Bronze Goddess by Estee Lauder

Bronze Goddess with dragon< fruit>s

Bronze Goddess is such a beautiful perfume! Never too much, never too annoying but always summer-y, bright and perky. Just right for a perfect day in tropics. Being “pigmentally” challenged (©Olfactoria’s Travels – please read her very enticing and nicely illustrated review of Bronze Goddess), the closest I could ever get to being a bronze goddess is to smell like one. I did.

Speaking of [not] tanning. I know that summer is over for most of my blogo-friends, but I still want to mention three products with sunscreen by which I swear (links aren’t affiliate, just for the illustration purposes): Aveeno Continuous Protection Sunblock Spray for body – very easy to apply, not greasy, with a subtle scent (for a sunblock), doesn’t leave white residue; Shiseido Ultimate Sun Protection Cream SPF 55 PA+++ for face (for swimming or hiking) – absorbs well, doesn’t leave shine or residue, doesn’t clog pores (I have a sensitive skin); and Shiseido Urban Environment UV Protection Cream SPF 35 PA+++ for face (for less engaging activities) – the similar characteristics as for the face cream above but with less SPF and not being water-resistant, it’s really lightweight.

As I promised to my new perfume friend Tiare by Ormonde Jayne, I took her with me on my tropical vacation. In the evenings when an ocean breeze would put out a day heat, all dressed-up for dinner I would adorn myself with Tiare. I truly enjoyed her company. I think it is a perfect perfume for a tropical night out. It feels so right in place on the open terrace under the moonless starry sky, surrounded by palm trees and the sound of the invisible ocean just a hundred steps in front of you. And a slick travel spray will fit even into the smallest purse. Read real reviews for Ormonde Jayne’s Tiare at Olfactoria’s Travels and Bonkers about Perfume.

Two samples that I brought with me to Hawaii were Frangipani by Ormonde Jayne and Black Orchid by Tom Ford. I wore Frangipani one night and I was surprised that I liked it much less than I remembered. It was still nice but something was wrong. When I came home and checked my notes, I found out that I liked Frangipani a lot in winter (ok, that was a Californian winter), on cool but sunny days. So for whatever reasons a tropical flower-based perfume doesn’t work for me in tropics – go figure. On the other hand, Black Orchid about behavior of which in a hot weather I had my reservations was just wonderful. I do not know if I should partially attribute that success to the place I was visiting at the moment, so – just in case you ever decide to reproduce the experiment to a tee – I give you all the details.

Mauka Coffee FarmMauka Coffee FarmMauka Coffee Farm

If you ever travel to Big Island I full-heartedly recommend visiting Mauka Meadows Coffee Farm. I’m a coffee fan but not a connoisseur so I cannot tell if their coffee is really good though I liked it enough to buy some coffee to bring home. But it’s not the coffee that made the place special for me. It’s their garden. Their own website doesn’t do them justice! They have beautiful well-kept grounds – a coffee farm surrounded by a very organic fusion of a tropical-themed Japanese garden and a fruit orchard. This area of the island is very wet, so it’s not too hot and it rains there often in the afternoons. The first nice touch was a selection of umbrellas to borrow in a shed  on the parking lot. As you walk through the gardens, down to the main pavilion, you can not only enjoy the view but also you can sample fruits from the trees along your path. We ate very ripe and flavorful small red guavas right off the tree. Also, for the first time in my life, I tried fresh macadamia nuts (there was a special cracker placed next to nut trees). I’m glad I do not have an easy access to those nuts: it would have been an awful temptation.

Mauka Coffee FarmWhen you reach the foot of the hill you are greeted with a sample of their coffee. You can sit (either under the roof of the open pavilion or, if weather permits, outside at one of the lawn tables) and enjoy the tranquility of the view – a water pool flowing to the horizon and meditation music. There is no pressure to buy anything but if you want they offer three types of coffee in a variety of sizes and local honey. A minivan is ready to take you back up to the parking lot (unless you choose – as we did – to walk back through the garden). The first time we came there just by chance when we couldn’t find the coffee farm recommended on Yelp. But it was so peaceful and so beautiful that in a couple of days I just had to go there again. That was when I wore Black Orchid and it completed the wonderful experience.

Hawaii - Paradise on EarthIf anybody still had any doubts, here’s the proof that Hawaii is a Paradise on Earth: more than once we observed the commensalism, peaceful coexistence of local cats, birds, and mongooses (click on the image to see two mongooses eating/drinking from cats’ bowls).

The trip, as great as it was, wouldn’t be complete without some interesting new perfumed experience, right? So for those who are still reading, I want to announce that in the upcoming week I plan to publish an addendum to my vacation story to share with you my unexpected perfumed encounter. Stay tuned!

As always, feel free to post a link to your blog’s post(s) related to the topic.

Images: my own