Hawaii is one of those mystical paradisal places that live in the minds of people from around the globe. The small archipelago was the last place on earth discovered by great Polynesian mariners from the Marquesas Islands around 400 C.E. (formally 400 A.D.). Common Era (C.E.) is now used because of the criticism in reference to Jesus, Before Christ (B.C.) and (A.D.) which means “In the Year of Our Lord” in Latin.
The archipelago comprised of eight large islands, covers a land area of about 6,400 square miles. This size is just about as large as the U.S. states of Connecticut and Rhode Island combined. There are also over 100 smaller coral atolls that span a 1,500 mi stretch northwest from the inhabitable islands. These coral atolls were created as small islands were formed and then eventually sunk back into the sea. A large lava hot spot sits under the islands and is currently active on the Big Island which is called Hawaii. It is the southern most island and the one that recently erupted and created more land area.
I traveled to the Islands in 2012, having had my fill of New England winters and fell in love with the climate. I’m currently living on the Island of Maui which is also called the Valley Isle named so because of the larges isthmus separating the northwestern and southwestern volcanic masses.
The airport was small when I first arrived. A single tarmac services a two story gate structure that is open to the air. As you deplane and step into the ocean air, you immediately know you have arrived in a tropical place. The typical airport sights are familiar, with people hauling luggage and bags and the scurry of airport personal, checking in passengers and moving luggage.
The airport is expanding now and the parking area is a large construction mess at the moment, but once out of the airport, the island life starts to come into view. When I first arrived here, it was dark and the first place I saw was Krispy Kreme, a doughnut place I have only visited once somewhere in Texas. I’m thinking … this is Hawaii?
As I drove a bit more, I discovered the usual Mainland USA establishments; Walmart, Costco, Office Max, Sport’s Authority and the usual chain restaurants one would see at the malls. There are two malls in the Valley portion of the Island in Kahului and a plethora of car dealers and of course a Whole Foods.
The airport is central to the Island. The resort areas are on the West Side of the Island in Lahaina to the north and Kihei to the south. I live on the North Shore just past Paia and near the world famous Hookipa and Jaws surfing locations. Maui has the best winds on the North Shore and is a destination for surfers from all over the world.
When Hawaii is your living destination, you tend to stay away from the resort areas, unless you want to work at one of them. Most of the jobs here are service industry, automobile service and selling, construction, real-estate, farming, landscaping and tree work. There are also the yoga and massage studios for retreats and meditation industries where travelers try and reconnect with nature. Hiking and biking and water sports are here as well.
To really experience the natural state of Hawaii, you need to travel into the places where the locals live. The smaller towns and remote locations. The Paia Inn is right on the water and the small little town has several restaurants and grocery shopping. It is central to the Island and a great local place to stay. You can walk to beaches and also travel up the mountain of Haleakala or west to Hana easily. You are also within view of Kula which is a place with eternal fall like weather. There is a great stretch of road that runs midway up the mountain and around to the other side. Charles Lindberg is buried in an old church cemetery there. He loved that location and made it is final resting place. The land is beautiful out that way and if you continue around, you come to Hana.
The northwest shores of Maui are also magical. The air is sunny and crisp with sunlight misty showers mostly everyday. It is a remote part of the island and worth the trip as well. If you stay in a resort in Lahaina, you will want to venture that way often to leave the crowded resort areas.
If you want to experience the land from the comfort of a resort I would recommend Lahaina or the Napili area. It is more natural there and the Front Street boulevard is the best tourist adventure there is. There are many boat riding adventures right there as well.
I’ve not been to the other islands yet and may not venture to them. They each have their own unique attractions, but from a land and environmental perspective, all very similar. There are dry regions, wet regions, and tropical flora everywhere.
This is a first hand account of one of the most pervasive grass on the islands. A grass that is both beneficial in keeping erosion from scaring the land, but also a vegetation that constantly wants to reclaim the land from all who live here.
At the end of the Covered in Cane Grass post, is an audio version too from a character I created to entertain me while driving and working on the island.
Hope you make it out here one day and enjoy your visit, or if daring enough, come here to live in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, the last place on earth.