Oh, the islands of Hawaii, the extremely popular honeymoon and family vacation destination. Some want to surf the waves and zip-line over the mountains and others fantasize about seeing exotic fish while snorkeling or going to a luau. In the summer of 2016, my family and I traveled to this land of swaying palm trees and sandy beaches for ten days. Six days were spent on Maui and then four on Hawaii, also known as “The Big Island.
During our stay on Maui, I spent most of my time swimming and playing in the ocean with my little brothers. Since it is extremely hot in Hawaii, the water was a refreshing way to cool off. The waves that approach the islands are very aggressive, creating a fun game for kids who love to be pushed out and pulled in. The water isn’t salty enough to for it to hinder the appeal of this game unless the water is swallowed. The only problem with it is that sand will get everywhere. About a month later, I was still picking bits of sand out of my hair.
Once I got past those initial, aggressive waves, the water got deep rapidly and the waves became smoother. Because of this, anyone who has snorkeling gear can go snorkeling relatively close to the shore, so those fancy boat trips aren’t necessary. I saw yellow, bright blue, red, spotted, spiked and striped fish and even a young sea turtle. The beaches are also more than white glistening sand. There are sea turtles that line of the shore, basking in the sun.
People are allowed on that beach because the turtles don’t seem to mind them as long as they stay a safe distance away, so my family and I decided to check it out. During our visit, there were about five or six sea turtles simply sleeping on the beach with people walking almost right in front of them without waking them up. After laying in the sand for a couple of hours, the turtles would get up and lumber back into the ocean where their movements became graceful and fluid once more. It was really easy for me to lose track of time marveling at the beauty of the ocean.
When my family and I strayed away from the hotel and surrounding beaches, we went for a walk in the jungle to see a waterfall, which was interesting despite the blistering heat. Most of the plants there boasted bright colored flowers that I never knew existed and there were banana and coconut trees nearly everywhere I looked. What made it all worth it, however, were the whole coconuts containing fresh coconut water sold at a fruit stand at the beginning of the jungle trail. I do not know what manufacturers do to coconut water before it is purchased in a carton, but it tastes nothing like what I drank in that jungle. The fresh liquid is a surprisingly amazing thirst-quencher with just enough sweetness and flavor to differentiate it from regular water. It is a wonderful treat I would recommend to anyone.
On our last night in Maui, my family and I went to the Hyatt luau. A luau is a traditional Hawaiian dance show with a huge buffet of traditional Hawaiian food. Our buffet consisted of many delicious things, including taro rolls and puree, freshly cooked fish with a mango salsa, Hawaiian-style boar, marinated chicken and even a strange salmon salsa. The singing and dancing were beautiful and the announcer even taught the audience a simple Hula dance. At the end of the night, everyone was full and happy.
Our stay on the Big Island was more relaxing. We visited both black and white sand beaches, but we mostly just hung out around town and the hotel. I had an amazing time in Hawaii. Both of the areas of each island I stayed in were obviously designed for tourists, but Maui had more little towns and local attractions such as the jungle trail, which I liked better than the atmosphere on the Big Island which actually reminded me a bit of southern California.
A trip to Hawaii is a popular choice on most people’s bucket lists and for good reason. Everything, from the cultures to the picturesque sandy beaches, was an exciting and fresh experience for me. I had an amazing time in the areas curated for tourists, but I truly dove into Hawaiian culture once I discovered the hidden local gems. I wish I had more time in Hawaii to soak in the orange sun, stuff myself with Hawaiian cuisine and simply melt in the go-with-the-flow lifestyle of the islands. Although it’s a typical destination choice for people who want to experience the island life, Hawaii is more than just mai tais on the beach. There’s a vibrant culture in the volcanic archipelago that one needs to visit in order to understand why Hawaii is the beautiful state that it is.