Hawaii Setting Record Straight | For decades the word “Hawaii” has been music in the ears of leisure travelers, mostly from Japan and the U.S. They listen to a smaltzy song like “Aloha Oe” by Queen Lilioukalani and start to have this delusion about Hawaii: a place close to paradise, wonderful weather, gentle breeze, nice locals, nice ocean, generally a good place to live forever. For inexplicable reasons U.S. News and World Report constantly rate Hawaii’s island of Maui the “best vacation destination in the United States”. U.S. News even rated Maui 4th best place to visit in the world and 2nd best place to honeymoon. Kauai was rated 2nd in the world in having the best beaches etc etc. Of course none of this is true. Nothing can compete with those honeymoon dream islands in Micronesia, Polynesia and the Philippines. So let’s try to set the record straight; starting with that warm Aloha and a shaka you expect to get from nice locals. Only a few will do that, mostly people employed by the tourist industry. Large parts of Hawaii’s locals are truly troubled. They are insanely obese because they don’t pay attention to the huge amounts of HFCS (high-fructose corn syrup) in their food. They are especially hostile to white people. And instead of math their kids are doing Meth. Still there is tourism …
Brief History of Hawaii Tourism
Mass tourism came to Hawaii around about the late 1950s, but its humble origin began almost a century earlier, in the 1870s. Tourism started when faster and more predictable steamships replaced sailing vessels in trans-Pacific travel. Hawaii’s first luxury hotel, the Hawaiian Hotel, opened for business in early 1872. It was located in downtown Honolulu near the harbor. In 1898 Hawaii was annexed by the United States. In that same year hordes of American soldiers were streaming to Oahu in particular, with the local Hawaii government through annexation finally placed on a firm foundation. Business boomed and tourists started swarming to Honolulu. In 1899 and 1900 the Royal Hawaiian Hotel (now a Y.M.C.A.) had to turn away guests because too many travelers approached the property.
In 1907, the Hilonian – a steamship owned by the Matson Navigation Company – was used to inaugurate San Francisco-Honolulu service. After that Honolulu became a main terminus for Matson in Hawaii. In 1910, the Matson company launched itself into the Hawaii tourism business with the addition of the 150-passenger ship Wilhelmina, said to rival some of the finest passenger vessels operating in the Atlantic. And with the arrival of air travelers in the 1960s tourism started to boom. It kind of never stopped since then.
Hawaii Tourism Today
Despite economical unrest, social conflict and high taxes on everything, the Hawaiian Islands remain the most visited place in the United States. But its tourism industry cannot outshine the better part of what Europe has to offer to tourists. Paris, Amsterdam, Italy and large parts of the Iberian peninsular lead the pack. Still for U.S. Americans, Waikiki with its beach, the Royal Hawaiian Hotel and surfboards are stuff of fairy tales such as 1001 Arabian Nights. Not having Hawaii listed in any realistic top 10 charts does not mean this is reason enough to dumb the former dream destination. So which places are worth visiting? There must be something. These are Chili and Churp’s top 5 spots in Hawaii:
Banzai Pipeline | Due to a stormy North Pacific in December, January and February, high swells at Oahu’s North Shore cause a concentration of surfing activity. There is one particular spot of Ehukai Beach, commonly known as the Banzai Pipeline, which is the most notable surfing spot. It is a prime location for competitions because Banzai Pipeline is very close to the beach, giving spectators, judges, and photographers great views. Every December the Banzai Pipeline hosts three competitions: Billabong Pipeline Masters, Reef Hawaiian Pro, O’Neill World Cup of Surfing.
Volcanoes NP | Located on Big Island, Volcanoes National Park offers a unique, close up look at an active volcano and the recent landscape produced by it. Hot lava constantly flows down a mountain side, and dry lava covers the road, showing its unstoppable force. The gateway to exploring the Big Island of Hawaii’s volcanoes is the Volcanoes NP. The park, established in 1916, covers 500 sqm and reaches from the 13,677 foot summit of Mauna Kea – the largest volcano on earth – to sea cliffs where molten lava can be seen spewing into the Pacific Ocean.
Waipio Valley | A very scenic spot on Big Island is Waipio Valley lookout. Surrounded by lush cliff walls this fertile valley opens out to the ocean, where a black sand beach mets with white waves and blue water. The high viewpoint gives an awesome perspective.
Hana Road, Maui | The dramatic Hana Road on Maui is a scenic stretch of highway that runs from Pa’ia, through lush forests and along the ocean, to the remote town of Hana. This trip is worthwhile both for the stunning drive and to see the town itself. Hana’s location, relatively cut off from the rest of the island, has allowed it to maintain more of a traditional Hawaiian culture than other towns.
Kauai | The entire island of Kauai is something like the ideal tourist spot. There’s a reason there are so many jaw-dropping scenes in Jurassic Park. Those views of Kauai can’t be rushed, and should be taken in from every angle. A helicopter tour will show you the stunning waterfalls; sailing along the coast will leave you feeling small and insignificant against the natural majesty; a catamaran snorkeling excursion reveals aquatic wonders; and Zodiac tours get you closer to sea caves, Hawaiian Monk seals, pods of dolphins, or green sea turtles. Kauai is the only island in the state with navigable rivers, making it perfect for a kayak adventure or inner tube excursion. Prefer a challenge? Hike the legendary coast, a 22-mile round-trip trail that is considered the state’s best backpacking route.
Tesla Electricity Cooperative | And what about some solar panel tourism? Tech fanatics might like the idea of visiting Tesla’s Electricity Cooperative in Kauai. It serves the Hawaiian island with renewable energy. In September 2017 Tesla opened a 13 MW solar farm combined with a 52 MWh battery installation to help the island reduce its fossil fuel consumption by about 1.6 million gallons of diesel and petroleum per year. Welcome to the future.
Where to stay in Hawaii
If you have ever been to the Cook Islands, Seychelles, Maldives, Bora Bora, Fiji or Tahiti, you will know what’s coming next. No property in Hawaii is able to compete in style, comfort or surrounding beauty. But ok. You have to make a decision now. This is what you can get:
-> Stay in the Heart of Lahaina (Maui) at Villa Samsara. It will almost cost you an arm and a leg (US$1,400 per night), but at least it got some swag.
-> The Bungalows at Napili Bay, also on Maui (12 Hui Drive, Kapalua, Kahana, HI 96761). The property is 32.2 km from Paia and 1 minute from the beach. You get it for $780 per night.
-> A 2-bedroom-shelter for $646 might be in your range at the 5-star St. Regis Princeville near Hanalei Bay, Kauai. The hotel is rated 8.8 by tourists.
Hawaii Setting Record Straight. By Chili & Tshirp | Hugging horizons since 2004 | More travel blog posts about North America here.