Five years after going to Hawaii, my wife and I took another vacation there. We returned to the islands of Oahu and Maui.
Some changes had occurred over the intervening years, the most significant being the weather. Hawaii, of course, has probably the most perfect climate on the face of the earth. It seldom goes below 72 degrees F, and seldom above 85. The ocean breezes are constant companions.
Yet during our stay, the islands experienced “winter” weather patterns. Flying into Oahu, we could see thick layers of clouds over the island. On top of the Maui volcano Haleakala, clouds kept us from seeing into the crater. It rained much of the time we were on Maui.
Our first few days were spent on Oahu. We stayed there at the Hawaiian Village in Waikiki. Waikiki is a huge tourist attraction for the Japanese, and for a smaller number of South Koreans. Besides its location by the Pacific, Waikiki has the fast-paced charms of a big city. A number of high-profile stores are there.
On Oahu we drove to the North Shore, and enjoyed a hike to the top of Diamond Head. We also went to the much underrated Waikiki Aquarium to view the wide variety of bright-colored tropical fish and coral. This Aquarium is closely associated with the University of Hawai’i’s marine biology department, which is uniquely situated for its research.
We were given an even closer look at the tropical fish when we snorkeled through Captain Bob’s Picnic Sail off of Oahu. We actually enjoyed this snorkeling trip more than the one we later had through the Pacific Whale Foundation off Maui. The Pacific Whale Foundation does excellent work, but there were too many people snorkeling around us. It wasn’t until many of the people retreated from the cold water back to the boat that we were able to move around more easily.
Despite the world-class photos, paintings and sculptures featured in the galleries of its old whaling town Lahaina, Maui remains an undiscovered gem. Most of its acreage is still rural.
Nevertheless, ominous signs of change were present when we returned after five years. A once simple fruit stand now presents many more amenities, and large sections of a hill had been ploughed for development.
Hawaii has ever been receding into the past as an island paradise. When I took surfing lessons at Waikiki in my first trip, we only had a narrow strip of beach to work from. Giant hotel buildings had been built almost up to the edge of the coastline.
With people everywhere in front of me in the water, I had almost nowhere to go on my surfboard. This had to be far removed from the Waikiki of decades ago: the Waikiki of the great surfer Duke Kahanamoku. Since that first trip, I have often imagined Waikiki as an ideal place for surfing back in the 1920’s and 30’s, the era when people still reached the islands mainly by ship.
With this in mind, I hope that Maui remains undiscovered by most tourists and developers for a long time still.