When I left Seattle, I jokingly told my friend “the first country I’m travelling to is Hawaii”.
“But it is isn’t a different country,” she replied.
It is. Oh it is.
Looking at Maui from the Kula Lodge
Having travelled around the United States, I can’t say there are many places even similar to Hawaii. Or, more precisely, Maui, the island I spent most of my time on this past week.
To start with many of the views look absolutely, totally fake. Yes, the above picture was my view at lunch one day. Only after staying in Maui for a week did I start to get used to the fact that driving around the interior of Maui, at any moment you could turn the corner and see another breath-taking view.
I don’t know if I could get used to it really. Half my shots of the beach or looking out over the mountain look like they’re from a postcard.
Kamaole Beach III
Sure, I guess someone might over time get used to the amazing mixture of volcanic rock, perfect beaches, and mountain views rounded out with gorgeous weather. Add to that easy access to a wide variety of fresh produce and fish, and you have yourself a quite literal slice of paradise. It became quickly obvious why Hawaii has its reputation. It is, quite simply, nothing short of amazing.
To give it an even more foreign feel, I was greeted by a number of foods and plants I’d never heard of before. Fruit that tastes like cinnamon (complete with a gritty texture), starfruit, and even the plentyful macadamia nuts used in new ways (like in the crust on Mahi Mahi, for example).
Speaking of macadamia nuts…
Like I said, a variety of foods. The plants, too, came in all shapes and sizes. One of the most striking is the Rainbow Eucalyptus.
Rainbow Eucalyptus at Garden of Eden
The above picture is from the Garden of Eden on the Road to Hana. Both the Garden and the Road to Hana are well worth exploring. The Road is a windy affair that takes you around through some of the various micro-climates as you traverse the island. My friend and I explored it one day, stopping at the Garden of Eden, a nature reserve that contained many cool varieties of plants, including the Rainbow Eucalyptus above. In addition, many varieties of bamboo, bananas, flowers of various sorts, and starfruit flourish.
But you don’t really have to go very far in any direction to get the island experience.
Maui, as one may expect being a holiday spot for many, is a great reminder to take things a little slower. Stop and look at the flowers, enjoy the views, soak in the sun, and rest up for whatever adventure might come along tomorrow. There’s also a general friendly, caring spirit that people generally strive for called the Aloha Spirit, sharing its name with the famous greeting. As a sense of goodwill, it carries through the island’s inhabitants and even into governance. Just as important as soaking in the sun is to soak in some of the Aloha while you’re there and take it with you.
I’m looking forward to returning to Hawaii and seeing what else it has to offer. Like many places, it feels like I just scratched the surface. What I found was a warm, welcoming place, both in temperature and in vibe. Highly recommended checking it out. It’s well-worth the flight. Just don’t rush too much, or you’ll miss some of the best parts.
Mahalo for reading!