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Discovering Hawaii

By Valentina Ciamponi

What shall I put in the luggage? We absolutely need to pack light!  For a European person, Italian like me, the first destination we visited seemed so far away. 16 hours travelled on a plane but with no regrets, Hawaii was totally worth it. During the flight we managed to organize well, refuelling on overpriced cabin food and planing our trip in the process. Even our 2 year old baby girl enjoyed the plane journey.

We have been prepared to live a not only a maritime vacation,  but of traditions, history and culture.Just think of the military base of Pearl Harbor and what that tells us about the Second World War.

A few minutes before landing we already feel the calm and quiet atmosphere. This being said its completely different to the ways of living back home in Italy. Upon arrival we were welcomed with the Shaka greeting gesture. This consists of the thumb and little finger being extended while curling the rest of the hand. It’s used to express a big variety of positive meanings like “all right”, “hello”, “what’s up ”. The airports are completely different then we have seen before. The waiting rooms are located outdoors which really was a surprise, however the warm climate made the scenario more bearable.

We immediately understand that people here want to make their roots known, love to tell stories and take pride living in Hawaii. We understand that Hawaii is not just islands, but a way of life. Due to our limited time, a week per island, we decided to rent a car, this makes it more convenient traveling with a 2 year old. Only in Maui we had to buy an organized tour due to zones being closed off to cars. Our first stage is Honolulu in Ohau, which mixes the charm of an American metropolis, with its high skyscrapers, to the Caribbean paradise. Boasting white beaches, palm trees and high waves this destination is a phenomenon. Waikiki beach is the first paradise we visited, a big statue has a LEI around its neck, in the Hawaiian culture its a wreath of flowers as a symbol of affection and love. Here we stayed in a hotel for the week. Waikiki welcomed us and bewitched us, immediately we jumped the waves of that lightblue water. In the distance, surfers waited for their perfect wave; and under the shade of the trees, we apprehended ukulele players.

The only things we did not enjoy were the breakfasts, too different from our habits, cappuccino and brioches. We decided to avoid spaghetti and fried food early in the morning.

I started a rithual, every day I put a frangipane flower on my ear. I found it amusing and unusual to find cocks and chickens wandering the beaches undisturbed.

Where to eat: Sea food village Waikiki, Roy’s beach house Kahuku, Hard Rock cafè Waikiki

What to visit: Pearl Harbor historic sites, Waimea valley Unesco World Heritage,The royal palace Lolani.

Favourite bays: Waimanalo, Lanikai (rocky sand), Turtle bay (where sea lions are sleeping on the beach), Waimea Bay and save the best till last Hanumana bay.

Hanumana bay was our best beach, however it has a limited entrance to tourists even if the entry is with payment its better to arrive early in the morning. The entry is preceded by an explanation on the preservation of the island. After this interesting lecture we can finally swim among the turtles. This was my favourite location, it was magical, almost unreal. This beach is also very popular with islanders.

We jumped back on the plane this time for only a 45 minute flight and our second stop was Big Island. The biggest one: is a landscape of a living volcanoes. Here we stayed in 2 diferent places. The first near the Volcano Kilauea and the second near the beach in Waikoloa, two beautiful apartments. Kilauea gives us the idea of a lunar landscape, the volcano is active, constantly monitored, at night the Hawaiians sing sweet songs to the volcano, enchanting us with their melodious voices. On this island the sun sets very early. Kilauea in Hawaiian means cloud of smoke rising. Here the temperature was different, really cold. You must visit the volcano national park, we paid 25$ on entry to the site. The volcano offers two different shows day and night so you will always be available to catch a viewing. The museum inside offers photos with the history of Hawaii and images of past volcanic eruptions. Travelling several kilometers you reach the sea passing from about 18 degrees to 35 celsius. Seeing various lava flows of different historical moments, distinguished by the growth of vegetation. If you are a cyclist then you are in for a treat as there is a designated cycle lane recommend for only experts for you to take in all this beauty.

We recommend visiting the ‘Rainbow falls’ and the ‘Akaka falls’ in the Hilo area. We were in astonishment and enthusiasm witnessing the great jet power of this waterfall arguably the most famous in Hawaii. The beaches to visit are Waikoloa and Punalu’u.

Our last stage is Maui island, my favourite. We stayed in a pleasant condo to Lahaina, the Outrigger. With several activities to choose entertain your needs including mountain climbing, a helicopter ride to see the waterfalls from above, guided tours and tanning at the beach of course. But our most joyfull which brings an adrenaline rush was squba diving!

Lahaina is a beautiful town on the sea, full of special shops with a stunning christmas store selling personalized Hawaiian ornments for the xmas tree. The streets are safe, even at night with a little girl in the stroller we needed to make sure of this. “I feet at home”. Finally here we are dedicated to diving, I know that it is not a sport for everyone, but with a regulator, jacket and tank you can reach depths where there is silence and beautiful colors, we were surrounded by topical fish, And luckily, I didnt see any sharks.

Where to eat: Cool cat cafè, Captain Jack’s island grill, Bubba Gump.

The food is great, the fruit has a fresh and pure flavor, you absolutely need to taste the pineapple and coconuts. Pinacolada was my favorite drink.

Place to visit: Kaupo Historic General store, twin falls in Hana, the blow hole, the ocean center with the aquarium, Halfakala national park.The guided tour that we chose in the island of Maui led us from Lahaina to the southeast area, with a single narrow and winding road, in which also the rental car insurance does not cover any damage. We were struck by a bazaar with various sculptures all made with coconut shells.
Hana has a magic beach, if you are lucky you can see dozens of turtles arriving at sunset on the beach to rest for the night.

Tourism in Hawaii seems to to be primarily Asian, in fact many stopped us fascinated by the blue eyes and blonde hair of our baby girl. We were fascinated by the nature cult among banyan trees, waterfalls and rainbows. The way of life is what infects us and gives meaning to life. If your day to day life is to hectic, once you have been to Hawaii you will only see things with different eyes. We carry in our hearts this fabulous experience. That’s why I advise everyone to go!

MAHALO

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