The Hawaiian Islands consist of some 136 islands, islets, atolls, and coral reefs. However, only seven islands are inhabited. These consist of the big island of Hawaii, Oahu, Maui, Kauai, Niihau, Lanai and Molokai. These islands are some of the destinations on many people’s bucket list. Over the years, I’ve visited all but one of the seven islands. Of the seven, I think that Maui is one of my favorites.
Beautiful vistas, incredible rainbows, brilliant blue seas, lush golf courses, great surfing, fishing, paddle boarding and hiking possibilities make Maui a magnet for holiday makers and vacation fantasies.
My last visit to Maui was a little less fun than usual. I think the local Islanders are sick and tired of tourists. Some of the much touted “Aloha spirit” seemed to be missing.
I get it. I’m from a tourist destination in east central Florida. Even though a large part of our local economy depends on tourism, we still gripe about crowds, beaches that are taken over by tourists and rude out-of-towners.
After arriving at the Kahului Airport (OGG) from a grueling east coast flight, I was jet lagged and grumpy. I only had one bag, so I didn’t have to wait around the carousel area. However, as I walked out through the departure section, a Hawaiian police officer was buzzing around the baggage claim area on a Segway. He zipped through the milling passengers with the skills of a mall cop.
As I exited the area, I noticed several things. People who pulled to the curb in their vehicles were receiving parking violations. Apparently most of the ticketed people were tourists in rental cars. I noticed that locals were pulling up in pick-up trucks (with people in the bed of the truck) or other vehicles, waiting for their arriving relatives, seemed to be exempt from the ticketing. Hmmm.
I was waiting to be picked up by my sister and brother who had arrived on earlier flights. As my sister pulled to the curb and I hustled into the car (toss the bag and roll in maneuver), the Segway-mounted police officer zipped up to the SUV window. He gestured to us to roll it down. He then said, “license and registration please.” My sister produced both. He then started carping about “even in the state of Georgia they must have stop signs”. My sister agreed that they did. He said, “Well, you just ran one back there.” Huh? Where? While looking for me, she had apparently blown through a stop sign. He went on a rant about mowing people down in the cross walk and said: “You could go to jail right now if you hit someone.” I’m thinking “Yep. Even in the state of Georgia they would do that “! I kept my mouth shut. After some more difficulty, the officer let us off with a warning to obey the rules. “Mahalo” to you, bub!
Once we finished our police security encounter, we headed to Lahaina, the most touristy area Maui. The highway from the airport to Lahaina is pitch black in most regions after sunset. As we drove along, a truck pulled up beside us and motioned for us to roll down our windows. Yeah right. My brother finally did. The driver of the truck hollered “Your tail lights are off; you need to turn them on”. “WTH?” With no safe place to pull over to check out the situation, we finally got to our condo and parked. Apparently, the Ford SUV had DRLs (daytime running lights). When they are on, the tail lights do not automatically turn on. It would have been nice of the rental company to mention that when my sister and brother picked up the car. I know we were at fault for not checking things out before we left the parking lot, but when your brain disengages after flying across multiple time zones, you tend to forget details like parking lights instead of the full-blown headlight/tail light deal.
Our trip did improve after the miserable first day. Among other things, we toured the Maui Ocean Center. We thoroughly enjoyed revisiting Iao Valley State Park with its rainforest atmosphere and Makena Beach State Park. Ditto for the Kepaniwai Park’s Heritage Gardens which highlights the many immigrants (Portuguese, Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Filipino) who made Hawaii home. And we got to snorkel, paddle board, and see numerous turtles and other marine life indigenous to Hawaii.