If you follow me on my Instagram or just know me personally then you will probably have surmised that I was recently traveling through the states. My first stop after over just over a year abroad was Hawaii. The tourist hot spot of Waikiki to be exact. It was quite a short visit, but I think that I got a great experience that I otherwise probably wouldn’t have had at this time in my life. In this article I’ll go through some of my thoughts on the trip as well as some tips and insights that I might be able to pass on to other travelers who are looking to book a trip there or already have.
The Country of Hawaii
Having come from an entirely new city(Sydney), having plans to travel for over a straight month and spending the few days I had there with my parents I had done little to no research on the place. I like most though had a few ideas of what Hawaii would be like. It’s the dream vacation spot for Americans everywhere and the state that finally evened out our flag. Before arriving I assumed it would be relatively “Disney like” and tropical, but otherwise like the rest of America. However once I got there it seemed the opposite was quite true.
Nearly every time I thought to talk about Hawaii I had to stop myself from generalizing it as a different country. The money still worked the same way, and live was similar, but there was a definitely different culture to the place than the United States that I had grown up in. There was cuisine to try, cultures to learn about and history of a kingdom to that I had otherwise never known about. This is what really made Hawaii a more interesting holiday than a simple beach destination.
If you have time before you go do yourself a favor and read a little bit about the history of Hawaii besides just Pearl Harbor. If you don’t have time here’s the basic rundown. Hawaii is an extremely advanced and progressive pacific island nation and tries to sort of become a
model for what island nations can hope to become in the western dominated political world. A bunch of white guys from the states would rather grow fruit there without it being technically another country and wait until the monarch leaves to stage a coup. The president says, “Nah, that’s not really the way we do th
at.” The white guys say, “We can wait”. The next administration recognizes this new government as the legitimate Hawaiian government and it starts the process of becoming a state. This is obviously a simplified version of events, and I’m not expert, but nevertheless the irony that I am writing this article on Thanksgiving is not lost on me as the holiday becomes less about American Exceptionalism and more about the darker sides of America’s history.
Tips & Insights
With all that talk about how America kind of stole Hawaii and how the culture of the country has kind of been “Disney-fied” for tourism you may start to have second thoughts about visiting, but honestly it is still worth it. You just need to go into the trip with a bit of knowledge and respect for the culture and you should be able to enjoy yourself without too much guilt.
The first tidbit of knowledge you should know is about the airport. If you aren’t staying with a fancy hotel or resort you will most likely have to arrange for transport yourself. The public transit in Honolulu proper isn’t bad, but at the airport there are shuttles that you need to organize beforehand and the bus. It should also be noted that the bus does not allow you to take luggage on board. More than a small carry-on and you’ll be turned away so make sure to think about how you will get around beforehand.
Second on my list of tips is the famous luau. It may seem kitschy and fake, because it is, but it is most likely going to be worth it. My suggestion is to go for the food and the spectacle, not for a real cultural experience. Doyour research and find one with good reviews that you think you’ll enjoy an just go for it. You most likely won’t be going to Hawaii too often so make the most of it.
In the same vein is the idea of money. Staying in the tourist spots is going to be expensive, but so is everywhere else. It is an island with some pretty inflated prices so if you don’t think you have the money to enjoy yourself you may want to put off a Hawaiian visit. You can try to save a bit in some areas, but once you are there you may as well enjoy it to the fullest. Depending of course on the type of traveller you are Hawaii could be one of your favorite experiences or it could be one that you enjoy but in the end see as too expensive to do again.
Lastly, for those that know me well it will come as no surprise that I was most excited about getting some of that famous Hawaiian coffee and it did not disappoint. While you are on the islands soaking up the sun try and soak up as much of that Kona Coffee and the great fruits as you can as it doesn’t get much better. Each island has their own coffee plantations so check out a few places during your visit and see if you just can’t find your favorite.