Tropical rain does not stop us from doing most leisure activities, other than cycling, and golf. Wait! I cycle and golf! So, what else can we do when it rains here?
The obvious choice is to swim, either in the ocean or the pool. But thunderstorms generally force people off of the beach. I have been caught in heavy rainstorms here in the past, both on the golf course, and in the pool. Generally, just waiting for about ten to twenty minutes until the storm passes, works just fine.
Shopping is a good alternative. It can get expensive here in Maui, but what the heck, we are on vacation! A little shopping excursion to Paia or Makawao is good rainy day therapy. And maybe grab a light lunch.
So is going to a spa. But I am really not a spa guy. My sis-in-law Laura would go in a heart beat.
And I am not really a museum guy, but I have never been to the Alexander and Baldwin Sugar Museum. The building has been there since 1902! Theater is a reasonable alternative, but I have seen all of the Polynesian themed theater I care to see in this lifetime.
The Kula Lavender Farm in Upcountry is also a good diversion. And Maui has a winery up there too! So is Surfing Goat Dairy.
Too bad I can’t find a two or four hour work assignment, or a volunteer gig. I could wait tables for the lunch hour? Or I can just go with it, and read, watch TV, or send emails.
Driving in a heavy rainstorm here can be treacherous. The Road to Hana contains many stories of drivers who overestimated their ability to drive in a tropical rainstorm. Likewise the road to the top of the Haleakala crater at 10,023 feet. Too many treacherous switchbacks, and too many tourists!
Forget the helicopter tour, as I would not do that in good weather. Too many crashes!
And despite being able to handle a sightseeing boat, or even the ride to Lanai, the ocean is not a good place to be in a storm. It is a little too unpredictable for me. So, whale watching will have to wait until the seas are calm. Do you remember, “It was an angry sea, my friends?” It was a famous line from Seinfeld, where George is able to save the life of a whale by pulling out a golf ball from its blow hole.
When in doubt, always remember Maui has lots of watering holes. Remember back in the days when Primo beer was a big deal? Now, this island, like elsewhere, is a microbrew paradise.
See you on the mainland!
I often thought Alaska was #50, and Hawaii was #49, but it is the other way around. Hawaii is our fiftieth and final state, as of August 21, 1959; and prior to that, it was a territory since 1900. Also, the population of Hawaii remains fairly constant at around 1.5 million people. And despite a total area of only 10,931 square miles, Hawaii ranks only 13th in U.S. population density. Nearly 900,000 live on Oahu’s 600 square miles.
The median age here is only 38.5 years, with only slightly more males than females. Racially diverse, Hawaii is 38% Asian, 25% Caucasian, two or more races 23.8%, only 10.2% Native Islander, African American only 1.8%, and 1% other. But remarkably, 63% of residents are Christian, 10% non-Christian, and 26% unaffiliated. I would have expected a bigger Buddhist affiliation. Life expectancy is 81.3 years, the highest in the country.
Though Hawaii consists of four main counties (Oahu, Kauai, Maui, and the Big Island), the chain contains 132 distinct islands. It is one of only two states that grow coffee. What is the other?
Of note, the main campus of the University of Hawaii sits up hill at Manoa. In previous visits, we often attended UH baseball games, when my son was a big fan. Big secret: I was once offered a teaching position at UH when they had a School of Public Health.
If you have never hiked up to the top of Diamond Head, I strongly suggest it to you. It is an easy climb, and affords a fabulous view of Waikiki, especially at sunrise. Please, wear decent shoes, I saw Asian tourists hiking up in high heels!!!!
Each day, 72,000 of us tourists visit Honolulu. And Honolulu is the second most expensive city in the U.S., behind only Anchorage, Alaska. The cost of living is 65% higher than the mainland. But it does not have to be expensive, if you have listened to anything from the Samurai School of Discount Travel**!!!
So, do you know the difference between an island and an atoll? Make sure you do not speak with a lisp! Anyway, an atoll is a ring-shaped coral reef or a string of loosely spaced small coral islands, enclosing or nearly enclosing a shallow lagoon. And island is land surrounded by water, not large enough to be a continent.
While we are at it, there are no flip flops in Hawaii. they are known only as “slippahs”, and don’t you forget it! In fact, learn mauka and makai too. Mauka means mountainside, and makai means ocean side!
So, buckle up, even though you have been here before. This is as close to paradise as many of us will ever get!
** The Samurai School of Discount Travel is ME!!!!
The Patriots and Rams will meet at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta to play in Super Bowl LIII on February 3. Fans attending the game will be treated to the stadium’s “Fan First Menu Pricing” which includes $2 hot dogs, $3 nachos, and $5 beer. In comparison: at Super Bowl LII between the Patriots and Eagles, U.S. Bank Stadium was charging $7 for bottles of soda, $13 for domestic beer cans, and $35 for specialty cocktails.
From Trafalgar, keeping in mind they are a travel tour operator, so consider the source.
Travel it seems, may be losing a bit of its luster for some globetrotters.
As part of a new, thought-provoking survey from Trafalgar, 89 percent of survey respondents said travel is enjoyable but stressful (It can be, I agree) and difficult to plan. What’s more, 49 percent said that “real” travel experiences didn’t actually feel that real – that travel is becoming a common tourist trail (it depends on where you go!).
Additionally, 37 percent of those surveyed felt they didn’t see any “real culture” on their last trip and almost half of the participants said if they did, the experiences were not unique.
“The results were surprising and somewhat disconcerting, with the overall sentiment stipulating that rather than travel evoking wanderlust, the wonder of travel is getting lost,” Trafalgar said in a statement.
Another alarming statistic unearthed by the study, 61 percent of travelers are feeling the negative effects of overtourism, with overcrowding (experienced by 66 percent) putting a damper on their holidays. (Those Chinese tourists again!)
The burden of social media is also getting to travelers, with 53 percent saying that the pressures of posting while on holidays were enough to put them off. (Get rid of the selfie sticks!)
The study also showed that travelers view “good” travel as an opportunity to step away from daily life and pressures, be surprised and challenged, learn, appreciate and experience something new. (I agree!)
Another priority among those surveyed is spending time with loved ones, in a relaxed state of mind.
My thoughts, as you might expect:
Obviously, I do not agree with this article. But with airfares at a record low, and vacation time accumulating quickly, travel remains one of the best ways to spend a vacation.
As far as difficulty in planning, the solution is simple. Find a trusted travel pro, like my friend Ric, or just do as I do. I read voraciously in preparation for my trips. There is a wealth of information on the internet. Just be somewhat discerning about what you read.
So, why go where everyone else goes? Everyone, Europhiles obviously, seem to visit Paris and London. Why not try South America or Asia? Even domestically, how many of you choose Vegas over a charming place like Santa Fe, New Mexico, or one of our fabulous National Parks?
Many of my comments about over tourism come from the hordes of middle class Chinese spending their new found riches. But one way to avoid them is to stay away from bargain basement flights and hotels, particularly in SE Asia. Yet, even in a place like Prague, they took over the major tourist sites. Instead of Prague, try Warsaw or Budapest.
Now, I take plenty of photos with both my camera and my phone. But forget the selfie sticks!! They are hazardous to MY health and others. Millennials are as bad as the foreigners in this regard.
And now for the coup de grace, good travel experiences just happen. Sometimes, in fact most of the time, great experiences happen totally by chance!!! I think many of you already know that.
Packaged tours are not conducive to my travel style, and present few opportunities for spontaneous experiences. Walking down a narrow city street reveals more about a culture than a visit to the Eiffel Tower or Big Ben.
A good friend even went so far as to say that everyone MUST travel solo, at least once in their life! I agree.
So, how do you really get a good feel for the culture when you travel? Mine happens when I walk the streets, take public transportation, or try some food I have never eaten before. And should you be so fortunate to engage a local in some meaningful conversation, consider yourself the winner of the cultural exchange!
No trip to the South Island of New Zealand would be complete without an excursion over to Milford Sound. The splendor of Milford would qualify it for any list of the World’s Natural Wonders. Rudyard Kipling described it as the eighth wonder of the world. Right now, it still seems like a best kept secret. We were fortunate to see it on our trip to New Zealand and Australia a few years ago. The flight over was equally thrilling, as we were able to view many glaciers, as well as Mt. Cook, the highest point on the South Island.
We were in Queenstown for the usual adrenalin thrills, luge down the mountain, jet boating, bungee jumping, sky diving, and wine tasting. We decided to fly over to Milford rather than endure the looooong all day bus trip from Queenstown. The only problem was the fog in Milford would not lift for our plane to land at their tiny little airstrip. Finally, on the day we were scheduled to leave New Zealand for home, we got the all clear, and headed out on a tiny little six seater plane for Milford. Little did we know that the Sound gets 23 feet of rain annually. But it provides for spectacular viewing with hundreds of temporary water falls.
Milford Sound is a 22 kilometer, narrow fjord, just off of the Tasman Sea on the west coast of South Island. It is encircled in cliffs, peaks and innumerable water falls on the southwestern edge of New Zealand. Though it can be considered one of the many faces of New Zealand, the country is far more complex and diverse. Maori legend says it was Tu Te Raki Whanoa, an adze-wielding godly figure, who created the fiords. With incantations and his magic adze, Tu Te Raki Whanoa sculpted his finest work: Piopiotahi, meaning “single thrush,” which is Milford Sound today. I guess the Maori were not aware of the glaciers that carved the Sound thousands of years ago. We maximized the experience of Milford Sound, as our flight over provided for a really close-up view as we approached and landed.
Nowhere else in Fiordland do the mountains stand as tall,1200 meters or more, straight out of the sea. In the foreground of the fiord stands the legendary Mitre Peak. They say an American woman jumped off of the peak into the sound a few years ago. That should illustrate how tall and straight the steep rocky cliffs hang over the water.
Now Milford is a rather unusual name. I worked with a man at Kaiser who is named Milford(nice man). The sound is named after Milford Haven in Wales. I assume that is where he got his name as well. The Maori named the sound Piopiotahi, after the piopio bird from the thrush family. Many of the famous explorers like Captain James Cook overlooked Milford Sound, since the narrow entry did not appear to lead into an interior bay. Also, windy conditions left them worried about an escape route.
Over half a million visitors come to Milford Sound each year. Many stay for days, and tramp (the kiwi word for hike) around the area on tracks (trails). But the conditions are rather spartan, so be prepared if you do this. By road, Milford Sound is 295 kilometers from Queenstown. We originally were going to use the small town of Te Anau as our base, until Queenstown just took us over. Not enough time, too many things to see and do.
Upon landing, the first thing we noticed was the cold winds. We took a brisk walk of about a half mile over to the boat landing and terminal area. We boarded one of the many tour boats for a two hour excursion from the head of the Sound over to the entrance and back. Needless to say, the hot coffee on board was more than welcoming.
We had our choice of sitting inside where it is warm, or braving the cold outside for better views and photos. I did a little of each.
The first observation was the lush rainforests on the side of the cliffs. Second were the many animal species, like dolphins, seals, and penguins. The accumulating rainfall can force small portions of the rain forest to lose their grip on the steep faces, resulting in tree avalanches into the icy cold waters. Regrowth of these areas can actually be seen in various stages of reproduction.
Was it worth the worry to try to fit this trip in at the last minute? Absolutely, YES.
It was a spectacular day for spectacular sights. We would like to go back someday and spend more time there.