In our next series of discovery we are going to be visiting Hawaii and the Hawaiian Islands. Hawaii remains at the very top of tourism, especially from mainland USA. For those who did not pay attention in History 101., Hawaii is officially a state, making it convenient for US citizens since no passports are required. All currency is US Currency, and English is the official albeit not the most colorful language. Although the common name is Hawaii, officially the state is comprised of individual islands. Each of the Islands is unique and offers something different for visitors. There, in one sentence, is what makes Hawaii such a popular destination. There is something different to see and do no matter how many times you visit. Here are some general facts every visitor wants to know.
Hawaii is comprised of eight islands, 6 of which are popular visitor destinations for different reasons. We will talk about the six most popular in this series.
On a world map, Hawaii is directly South of Alaska, and directly West of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.
Officially, the average temperatures only vary 5 degrees all year. May through August are warmest, and January through April are coolest. For those of us in the eastern time zone, Hawaii is 5 hours behind until Daylight Savings, then 6 hours behind. Even the average Ocean temperatures only vary 10 degrees, from 71 to 81 year round.
All of the Islands offer air service. Maui, Kuai and Oahu offer good connections from the midwest and west coast airports.
Aloha is certainly the most well known Hawaiian culture word. Like most of the cultural language, it has a much more colorful meaning than just “Hello”. It is a welcome phrase that means you are accepted with warmth and grace. E Komo Mai would be the full expression of welcome.
Let us start with Oahu, since it receives the most visitors and is best known. Most of my first time clients tell me they want to go to Hawaii to see the WWII memorial, Pearl Harbor, and Waikiki Beach. It surprises them when I remind them Oahu is just 1 of the Islands OF Hawaii. Actually the Oahu tourism office describes Oahu as the “Heart of Hawaii”. It certainly is a must for everyone visiting the state for the first time. Here in Oahu is Pearl Harbor and the WWII monument. This is a breathtaking tour and not to be missed. The State has retained control of the monument, so there is no “hawking” or modern building construction on the site, yet there are sedate souvenir and refreshment areas to satisfy everyone. It is also a very popular visiting place for tourist from Japan, as they too lost many soldiers in and around Pearl Harbor. More importantly I have had conversations with Japanese visitors there and they remember that it was not a very proud part of Japanese history, just as Hiroshima may not be the outcome many of our families living then, would have preferred. Wakiki Beach is probably the most well known beach on any Hawaiian Island, but certainly not the only superb beach in Hawaii. Even if you are staying in another area in Oahu, a visit to Wakiki beach is a must. If you are a surfer, or want to watch the very best surfers in the world, head to the North Shore. You can walk for miles on pure white sand beaches. While in Oahu, a visit to Iolani Palace is a highlight. The Palace is a national treasure and the grounds are perfectly manicured. Reservations are required and can be done before you leave by your ”Hawaii Specialist Travel Agent”. Golf is a State Sport and there are championship courses to challenge you. By all means EAT. Hawaiian food is a cultural specialty. The famous Luau or Hawaiian Feast is the most well known. Try Seared Mahi Mahi, herb crusted Onaga, or seared Ahi with Lilikoi shrimp butter. And, of course, Hawaiian Ice at a roadside stand.
Check back next week for Part 2 of Hawaii.