Until I visited the islands of Maui and Oahu, I thought I could collectively refer to (and dismiss) all the Hawaiian islands as simply Hawaii. Oh, but that is the view of the uninformed! The reason is that each of the separate islands has so much to offer. I only experienced one tenth of the tip of an iceberg containing beaches, national parks, rocky coastlines and volcanic mountains. Among the throng of American tourists, it’s still easy to find places of inordinate natural beauty. Here I have made an attempt to capture 10 facts about the visit to Maui and Oahu that stuck me and made me smile as I remembered them again.
The coast of Ihilani, Oahu
10 – The sheer convenience of all road signs and menus in English: If you are a vegetarian like me, or have any other dietary restrictions, you will know what a blessing it is to see all menus in a language that you understand (I ordered something with “frango” or chicken in Brazil just because almost every dish seemed to contain it and I thought, because of the ingredient’s omnipresence, that it must mean potatoes or tomatoes). Also, no need to buy another currency when traveling from the US!
The beach at Kapalua, Maui
9 A new efficient airlines: You probably have not traveled on Hawaiian airlines before, but trust me, this is a very efficient regional airlines offering a direct flight from New York to Oahu, and departs on time and has great service. And I love the fact that the stewards and stewardesses are casually dressed. This puts you right in the holiday mood.
The Keanae Peninsula, Maui
8 – The extremely casual dress-code: It is really okay, in fact expected, that you walk into every restaurant/ bar in shorts and sandals.
The Diamond Head crater and the Waikiki beach in Honolulu, Hawaii. The beach was so crowded that it was not possible to take even one picture of this dormant volcano without a fellow tourist!
7 – Aloha and Mahalo: Aloha is Hawaiian for Hello, and Mahalo is Hawaiian for thank you! You can come back from Hawaii without learning any other word, but I bet you will learn these two words. After all, Hawaii is called the “Aloha” state. You might hear all the specials in a restaurant in English, but no one will use the words “Thank you”. It will always be Mahalo. Kind of sweet.
The winding road to Hana, Maui
6 – The value for money – You will have a new found respect and love for money, considering very few things are complimentary in the hotels or resorts. Everything comes with a price tag, including deck chairs and a cabana on the beach, even if you are staying in a resort with its own beach!
The calm waters of some beaches are perfect to try a hand (and leg) at water sports such as stand-up paddle boarding!
5 – A different culture – Ignore what I said earlier about the omnipresence of English. Even though Hawaii is a U.S. state, the culture is essentially Polynesian. If your long flight does not make you feel that you have come to a remote island in the Pacific, the strong Polynesian vibe definitely will.
A Hawaiian “warrior” getting ready to do the cliff dive from Black Rock, Kaanapali, Maui
4 – Mai Tai: Why did I not discover this drink earlier? It seems this signature Hawaiian drink is made for me! While it was normally served with a pineapple, at one place, they actually served it with a flower in it!
Mai Tai served with a flower in a restaurant in Maui
3 – Crashing waves upon a beautiful coast line: Hawaii is anyone’s dream of a beach paradise come alive. You might find nicer, smoother, whiter sand, but its hard to beat the view of large waves crashing upon a rocky coast adjacent to a grove of palm trees.
Watching the waves in Ihilani, Oahu
2 – The winding road to Hana in Maui is like driving through a very exotic garden.
The winding drive along the road to Hana comes with gorgeous views.
1 – The beautiful sunsets: The sunsets are truly gorgeous. You must have heard this a million times, but honestly, the sunsets on the islands of Hawaii are not at all overrated.
Sunset in Maui