In Hawaiian, “Aloha” means “Hello,” “Good-bye” and “Love.” I never knew that. Most utilitarian for the Hawaiian people to avail themselves of multiple meanings for their words. Just one of the things I learned on our recent 12 day trip to this enchanting archipelago in the Pacific.
We got lucky. The weather was gorgeous…days of 80 degrees, with some even in my preferable zone of the high 70’s. Clear with a lovely breeze. No rain. This proved fortuitous since January is Hawaii’s rainy season.
I didn’t know that ahead of time; it would have been wise of me to check. Why is that important? Talked to one man who said he’d come one year and had 9 days of rain during his two-week stay, in January. So, 12 days of uninterrupted sunshine was a truly lucky break indeed.
Here’s what other things we learned about Hawaii:
- Since it’s a string of islands (we came in on Oahu where sits Honolulu), one must island-hop to get to the other islands that collectively form this state. It’s easy enough to do, if an added expense. We went to Maui as our other destination, a truly beautiful island that’s way more laid-back than the big island. There, we snorkeled and hung out on white, sandy beaches.
- Hawaii’s a big destination for seniors. They’re everywhere, and many drive, with ease, in motorized wheelchairs on wide, crowded sidewalks– even in Honolulu. Many families comprised of parents, grandparents, children rent condos together, via sites established for that purpose. Renting these is often waaayy cheaper than stays at the usual resorts.
- Because we stayed in the resort Hale Koa (literally “House of the Warrior”–the military hotel on Waikiki Beach), we enjoyed the reduced rate for military folks (we did this is Shades of Green, in Orlando, too—another military resort) but we also noted the true cost to our country from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. We saw many young veterans who’d lost limbs. Some were double amputees who lost both legs, a common occurrence in wars where landmines were weapons of choice.
- Pearl Harbor’s a big draw. We went to pay our respects…visited the USS Arizona memorial (one where men are still entombed in the sunken ship.) I’ll have a separate post on this.
- Hawaii’s expensive. Because it sits in the middle of the ocean, all products must be shipped in and out. It’s obvious why every nation wanted it for its strategic value (Indonesian countries, United States, etc.). It seems to sit halfway between everywhere in that section of the world.
- The coral reefs right off Hawaii’s coastline aren’t as spectacular as they once were. Twenty years ago I took my kids snorkeling in Cozumel where we delighted in the schools of splendid, multi-colored fish. Now, the world’s reefs are colorless and bland and the fish are similar (likes attract likes?) According to the Nature Channel, we kill these reefs due to our practice of dumping fertilizers and other pollutants into the ocean (Cuba’s coral reefs are lone survivors because this dumping hasn’t occurred ).
- Hotel luaus are less-than-spectacular. It makes sense: Hotel food and entertainers are presumably not top in their respective categories. In future, I’d only go to a luau put on by a group that just does luaus. Old Lahaina Lua, in Maui (recommended by Zagat, Frommer’s, and Hawaii Magazine,) is generally considered the best, but you’ll need to purchase tickets ahead of time. Pricetag? $103.00 (tax?)
- Hawaii is breathtaking in its beauty (the water really is crystalline-blue and so-o clear)and its climate is about as perfect as anything can get. I recognize why it is such a destination for vacationers.
- If you go, and you must fly from the East coast, the distance will take approximately 12 hours of flight time. Then, there are the lay-overs. Makes for a high-stress day…not so bad on the way over, but difficult on the other end. You might want to break it up, stopping over in San Francisco for a few days (I wish we had.)
- When I said ‘Hawaii’s expensive,’ I meant it….It is a prime destination for shoppers of luxury items. I saw countless young women sporting Louis Vuitton bags (they cost thousands). All the other fancier stores are there, too….Armani, Chanel, etc. There’s a central Mall in Honolulu that’s worth a visit just to see the World Shopping Experience (I’m not a shopper but I found it truly fascinating.)
In the picture to the right is a young woman sporting a Louis Vuitton bag (click on pic for close-up shot), the apparent fashion accoutrement of the young, a bag whose prictag runs into the thousands. Hawaii makes evident the current trend among young business types of “Conspicuous Consumption.”
Now, my question: “Have you been to Hawaii?” What were your most treasured memories? Got any tips for would-be, future travelers to Hawaii?