Hawaii Sure Is Pretty; If Only There Were Something to Do….

Who thinks of these things? Hold a seahorse bred for aquariums so people don’t take them from the ocean. Zipline over a waterfall taller than Niagara Falls while going 45 mph. Take a submarine to see shipwrecks. Train manta rays to come to a specific area at night, because phytoplankton are attracted to light, and the rays are in turn attracted to their food–and now tourists can swim at night with manta rays.

But wait, there’s more! If the county had provided lifeguards for us to swim safely in the ocean, and outfitters had not offered lessons to body board, paddle board, and surf; it would have sufficed us. If the ocean had been clear enough to see your feet at the bottom, and Amazon.com had not sold snorkel gear cheaper than you can rent it so you can see multi-colored fish and sea turtles; it would have sufficed us. If the opportunity had been limited only to gaze upon this beautiful land from earthly plains, and had we not been given the chance to explore from unhuman means such as a parasails, helicopters, and bungee cords; it most definitely would have sufficed us. Dayenu.

We haven’t even gotten to the abundance of sites: historical, cultural, and natural.  Or luaus. If you’re bored in Hawaii, then something’s wrong with you.

Yay for Military Territorialism

Hawaii is amazing. I’m so glad that the U.S. commandeered it–otherwise it wouldn’t be a state and I wouldn’t be here. (This is my 45th state, for the record.)

I’m amazed by all of the species brought here by explorers and squatters. Everything from pine trees to prickly pear cactus–and they both survive. I understand bringing animals for food and labor, but trees?

You know that I don’t like the beach (there’s so much sand), well I like it here. Calm water, a blue that deserves a more colorful adjective, soft sand. I’m spending as much time there as I can. Drive 30 minutes and it’s completely different. Scary, dangerous, huge waves that I would never go near. But people do.

You would think, “seen one dormant volcano seen em all”, but that’s clearly not true. Every one burns in a different way, leaves different destruction, regrows in different ways. The volcanoes have been among my best experiences in Hawaii: grand, powerful, vibrant even when monochromatic.

Add the flowers that “we” consider exotic and “they” consider roadside overgrowth, and you’ve got a gluttony of beauty. With rainbows daily and waterfalls around the bend, all you need are unicorns and it’s a little girl’s dream. Or the makings of Lisa Frank stickers.

Rainbows in Hawaii

The one on the right is a double rainbow–look closely.

I’ve said the Shehecheyanu prayer countless times. It’s a Jewish blessing to give thanks for new experiences or ones we haven’t had in a long time–there’s even a dedicated prayer for seeing a rainbow. I just said Shehecheyanu to cover them all.

How’s the Weather Up There?

78-82 degrees all the time; except for when I’ve been above the clouds.

You Want Pictures?

Oh I’ve GOT pictures. With an average of 200+ per day it’s gonna be a bear to cull and edit, but well worth it. In the meantime, here are some of my favorites that cross islands and experiences.

Drive from Hilo along the EastShore, Big Island

Just your average view.

Hawaii bathroom signs

That is one SPECIFIC sign.

Southernmost point in the US

I didn’t know this was on my list, but now I can cross it off.

Save Ferris in Hawaiin coral on volcano fields

Using dead coral pieces that wash ashore, Big Island residents write “graffiti” on the volcano fields along the “highway.” Photo courtesy of Flickr. 

Hawaii mile Zero sign

There’s one at every coast.

Tsunami Evacuation Area Signs in Hawaii

Notice which way the dude is running in each sign. Photos courtesy of Flickr.

Matsumoto Shave Ice

This is no ordinary sno-cone. Lilikoi (Passion fruit), Pineapple, and Guava–over decadent vanilla ice cream. Oh. My. G-d.

Please Sir, May I Have a Lei?

As it turns out, they only give leis at the airport, 1. in the movies, 2. to tours, 3. if you buy them. You can also buy them at K-Mart. With each day, I hoped the hotel would have some cause to give me one; but I’m not staying in those kind of fancy places. FINALLY, on my 15th day, I got two! Thank you Polynesian Cultural Center. The shell lei was for purchasing tickets to all of the activities (although I didn’t pay and was their guest in exchange for an upcoming blog post). We’ll call that my afternoon delight. The orchid lei (there are so many orchids here they wear them as necklaces. I mean really….) was given at their luau.

wearing leis

Every lei is made by hand. Go to Chinatown and you can watch the women sit in cramped spaces, surrounded by flowers, shells and beads, threading together someone’s perishable souvenir. Click the pic to advance the slideshow.

Got Room for One More?

Think about this: over the course of the year, there are five-times as many visitors to Hawaii as there are residents. Shazzam.

To preempt Jef’s question, there are 1.4 million residents and 7.2 million annual visitors. He seems to think I’m his personal Google. Although he did call me “one awesome package”–and he’s right about that…”You are our Google and Trip Advisor and Yelp all rolled up in one awesome package.” To preempt everyone else’s question to my Mom: Jef and I are not dating: he’s a friend from college. And he’s gay.


What vacation activity did you most love–or most hate?
Not places, but things that likely had your feet off of planet Earth.

6 Responses

I am jealous that you are getting to do “slow travel” in Hawaii. We have been there twice, but have “only” visited Oahu and the Big Island. The good news is that we’re going back in February. This time we are going to take the inter-island cruise on NCL’s Pride of America. My husband is a cancer researcher and has a scientific collaborator in Honolulu. I suggested he invite himself to give a seminar—in February, of course. They were thrilled. I’m thrilled!!

Did you stay somewhere in Honolulu that you would recommend? I figure you might look for the same places I do when I’m traveling on our own dime—not too expensive, but clean—and, at this point in my life, I need my own bathroom.

I won’t be offended if you zap this part of my comment, but I have a photo of the observatories on top of Mauna Kea at sunset that might make your readers want to go there. Did you?
Just One Boomer (Suzanne) recently posted..Another Victim of Hurricane Sandy — Moi 🙁My Profile

Suzanne – thanks for the Mauna Kea pic – stay tuned for a post about that! 🙂 And concerning the hotel, i sent you a direct email a few weeks back. Did it not come through? Please let me know. if not, you can email me at paula@americanathebeautiful.org and i’ll respond with the scoop.


so did you partake of all of the adventures listed in your “suffice” paragraph?
Including the 45 mph zip over bigger than Niagara waterfalls? Going that fast, how could you see/focus on anything?

And of the many incredible Hawaiian adventures, which was YOUR favorite (as per your question). While I didn’t have a vacation event that was awful, we did stay in the world’s worst hotel in Copenhagen. Even an “upgrade” wasn’t sufficient to salvage the trip. In fact, when American Express saw the photos, they refunded our money!

Raye – held a seahorse, went snorkeling, opted not to go ziplining–too scared. Still to come: snorkeling in ocean caves. My feet have been on the ground (at various elevations) except for when they’re in the water. My fave Hawaiian adventure has been snorkeling. As it turns out, there’s a whole world under there. Kudos on getting AmEx to refund you–how long did that take? 😉


I agree that snorkeling was the best Hawaiian activity, especially at the underwater state park and at a tiny black-sand beach with a lagoon protected from the huge breakers. I also loved hiking. It’s like walking through a dish garden through familiar house plants grown abnormally large. In a Kauai woods(?) jungle(?), we even saw a deceased wild boar! Definitely not Kansas.


Couldn’t help but laugh at all your comments about Jef – including outing him! (Even though I don’t know him, I’m starting to feel like I do….wonder if our paths crossed at Wash U?) Anyway, face those fears, woman! Get on that zipline! 🙂

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