I will admit when I am wrong about something, and I was terribly wrong about Hawaii.
When people used to recommend a trip to Hawaii, I’d look at them like they have two heads. To be fair, Hawaii sounds great and always look picturesque, but I didn’t think Hawaii for was me. I had good reasons, too.
1. I am not a beach person
Some people love the beach, but I’m not one of those people. Meanwhile, Hawaii is known for their beautiful beaches and monstrous waves. Since the beach isn’t a draw for me, Hawaii didn’t make it very high on my bucket list.
2. There are sharks in Hawaii
Yes, I know. This is a terrible reason. While Florida takes the win for the highest number of shark attacks in the states, Hawaii is not too far behind. Smaller species of sharks can lurk close to shore. (Warning: Video of a shark attacking a fish near shore). Rationally, I know that the ‘odds’ of getting attacked are minuscule, but who cares about the odds when you’re dealing with an irrational fear?
3. Hawaii is far from the East Coast
Hawaii is a long way away from the East Coast, with over 10+ hours of flight time. For that amount of time, I could just as easily take a short flight and go to a sunny destination like Florida, or even some international destinations like Iceland or Italy. Wouldn’t that be a better use of precious vacation time?
4. Caribbean is the East Coast of Hawaii
I once heard that if Hawaii is too far away for a trip, the Caribbean is a good equivalent. While I have visited the Caribbean as part of a cruise trip and I had a great time, I don’t have a burning desire to make it a “repeat” destination. This sentiment – along with my association of Hawaii islands as similar to the Caribbean islands – tempered my overall interest in Hawaii.
I found myself planning for an unexpected trip to Hawaii last year when a family member had to be there for some other engagements. We planned for a week-long trip and decided to split up our time on two islands: Oahu and Maui. Prior to the trip, I was quite nonchalant about the destination. Admittedly, I was probably more excited about getting to take a break from work. After the trip, I realized I was wrong about Hawaii. Hawaii is a great destination as people say it is! So, what changed my mind?
1. It’s way more than just a beach destination.
In Oahu, there is plenty to do, eat, and shop. Go see a Polynesian performance, or visit the Dole Plantation. Visit the Pearl Harbor for history. Stop by the Swap Meet and try out Hawaii’s shaved ice. Hike at the Diamond Head. Stroll along the famed Kalakaua Avenue and walk along the beautiful Waikiki Beach. Visit an ABC store. Even if you are not a beach person, there are plenty of things to do there.
2. The natural beauty of Hawaii
Hawaii is truly gorgeous in all its natural beauty. From the views of the beaches to the mountains. With the perfect backdrop, it’s hard not to appreciate the natural beauty of Hawaii.
While we visited a lot of sights at Oahu, I planned the Maui portion to be more “relaxing” to wind down the trip. We couldn’t picked a better island for it. We stayed at a resort with a partial view of the ocean, and I still remembered waking up in the morning thinking, “Can the view be any more perfect?”
As an added bonus, getting to swim in an infinity pool for the first time ever? Priceless.
3. The “ALOHA” Warmth
What I love most about Hawaii is how friendly people generally are, and it’s a contagious vibe. I also love saying “Aloha” to people – there’s just a little bounce to it. The TSA security officer we met at the airport was a happy one. We were strolling along the Waikiki Beach one early morning and saw an officer patrolling the area. He greeted us with a smile and chatted us up, and asked us how we are enjoying Hawaii. Maybe the great weather puts people in a good mood, or maybe it’s just the culture there, but I love it all the same.
I will freely admit that I was wrong about Hawaii, and the trip exceeded my expectations. In fact, Hawaii is a destination I would visit again, though I probably want to explore a different island. It’s a good thing because the Big Island (and the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park) already comes to mind! I’m not sure if the Big Island is more or less like Oahu or Maui (and maybe folks who’s visited the Big Island can chime in), but that’s an island I hope to visit at some point soon!
Are there other things you just love about Hawaii that I missed, or a particular island you like more than the others? Or, have you ever visited a destination that far surpassed your expectation? On that same note, were there destinations where you had high expectations and it didn’t quite measure up?
In the Hawaii Trip Report Series:
- How I was Wrong About Hawaii (link)
- My Experience: Giving out Free Roses to Random Strangers (link)
- How to Request Pearl Harbor Historic Sites Tickets (link)
- My First Voluntary Denied Boarding Turned into the Best Airport Days, Ever! (link)
- Hawaiian Airline’s Plumeria Lounge in Honolulu (link)
- My Stay at the Holiday Inn Resort Waikiki Beachcomber (link)
- Review: Sheraton Kona Resort & Spa at Keauhou Bay (Big Island) (link)