First impressions of Hawaii (Maui)

1.) A lot of the scenery reminded me of Costa Rica. Although Maui is an island and Costa Rica a “land” country, both places are entirely tropical and have an incredible and vast array of ecosystems. Especially in the more rural areas (mainly driving through the Hana area), the buildings and houses also looked so similar, one to two stories at most. Just like in Costa Rica, a lot of the homes looked worse for wear, and yet surrounding them were beautiful flowers that in non-tropical locales cost exorbitant prices.

2.) What a historic place. Although I think for most mainland Americans, when we think of Hawaii, we think of gorgeous beaches and hula dancers, and yet Maui has an incredible history. Today Lahaina is an area of Maui overrun with tourists, filled with shops and restaurants and yet at one time it was the capital of the Royal Kingdom of Hawaii. Although Maui is home to the only remaining sugar plantation on the Hawaiian islands, the long defunct smokestacks in the former sugar cane fields still remain. One can see trees brought to Maui by the famous sea captain James Cook in the 18th century still growing strong. I was enchanted by these.

3.) The island is a constantly revolving door, and I’m not talking about the thousands of tourists who visit Maui each year. One of the tour guides we had was as native Hawaiian as you could get. She spoke Hawaiian and regaled us with many stories including sharing how every seven years, her enormous family holds a reunion that lasts for a month. The reason for this is that so many of her relatives left Maui for the mainland since there were better opportunities there. And yet on the island D and I encountered many individuals who were originally from the mainland United States, but went to Maui for the perfect lifestyle it offered them-warm temperatures year round, perfect weather, and incredible beaches right at one’s feet.

4.) One thinks of New York as being a melting pot and yet Maui and the other Hawaiian islands are incredible for how many ethnicities there are co-existing, incorporating their native traditions with others, especially with the cuisine. Hawaii is of course, home to its native Polynesian population, as well as Japanese, Chinese, Filipino, Portuguese and other ethnic populations.

5.) Can there be any place more beautiful? D and I arrived on the island at night, so unfortunately we had to drive to our hotel from the airport in the dark. Obviously, that meant we couldn’t see anything. However, the next morning after we awoke, the sun was already streaming into our room. We looked outside and were completely taken aback by the gorgeous view that greeted us. What we couldn’t see the previous night was so striking the very next morning. I especially loved driving on Highway 30, enjoying how close you are to the ocean.

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