In this article I want to share with you some of the best experiences I have ever had. We recently returned from two weeks in Hawaii. After my son took me to the Masters Golf tournament in Augusta five or six years ago, going to Hawaii had made its way to the top of my bucket list. The closest I had ever come was watching every episode of Hawaii Five O, both the old series and the new one. I wanted to be the one standing on that balcony of the high-rise over-looking Waikiki beach just like Steve McGarrett.
My chance finally came when I got to attend a national Real Estate Commissioner’s meeting at the Sheraton Waikiki in Honolulu. Waikiki was everything I had imagined. I spent a lot of time watching the beach-goers below from our 29th floor balcony that over-looked Diamondhead. It was sunny every day we were there and the temperature was either 88 or 89 degrees with a breeze. Being a weatherman there must be a piece of cake. You were surrounded by water but there was almost no humidity. I do not know how they pulled that off. The only negative about Hawaii was the price of food. There were wonderful restaurants but they had wonderfully high prices. Luckily there were some local eateries included in the food court at the mall across the street.
After the conference, Cathy and I spent five days on the north shore of O ’ahu at the Turtle Bay Resort. Before we drove up there we took a tour of Honolulu and learned some interesting things. The tour guide said the eight Hawaiian Islands had no mosquitoes, no snakes and no gambling. He said that is why they consider Las Vegas the ninth island. We went to Pearl Harbor and rode the shuttle ferry out to the USS Arizona Memorial which is a very moving and memorable experience. It ranks up there with the Vietnam Memorial in Washington and the American Cemetery in Normandy.
Did you know that Hawaii is the most Isolated parcel of land in the world. The nearest piece of land is Los Angeles, some 2,500 miles away. Did I mention it was a long flight.
Some of our friends from the conference went to Maui and the big island of Hawaii to see active volcanos. On O’ahu we liked seeing the dormant ones. Our trip to the north shore of O’ahu was spectacular. They built Interstate H-3 (think about the term “interstate” for a moment) from Pearl City to Kailua on the eastern shore. This highway is a four-lane, 12 mile version of the Grandfather Mountain viaduct in N C . It takes you from sea level through a tunnel at 1,800 feet elevation where all of a sudden you are looking east at the Pacific Ocean. They claim it is the most beautiful highway in the country. They will get no argument from me.
If you are a surfer, you have heard of Waimea Bay and the Banzai Pipeline. These are probably the most famous surfing locales in the world and they are less than ten miles from Turtle Bay. Being a weatherman at Turtle Bay is just as easy as being one in Honolulu, just subtract about two degrees. The waves were running about six feet in September. They say in January and February they can be 40 to 50 feet high. Winter weather is an issue though, it is only 81 or 82 degrees each day.
Every day at lunch we drove out of the resort and up the beach a few miles to where there are endless shrimp farms. Scattered along the highway are shrimp trucks with picnic tables under different types of shade shelters. Here you can eat many styles of shrimp at very reasonable prices. The food back at Turtle Bay was pricey but fabulous. Having designed houses a great part of my life, as well as planning new subdivision communities, I must tell you that I thought the folks who designed Turtle Bay did the best job I had ever seen at adapting the structure to the land and its environment. Speaking of the environment, Hawaiians make protecting the environment their top priority, as they should. I have never seen a prettier place. Every tree, bush and shrub blooms. The State of Hawaii has an admirable goal to become energy independent. The only problem is they are putting up these awful looking wind farms all over the islands. Also going up are signs from the local citizens saying “No More Wind Farms”. Even Paradise has its little problems.
Perhaps the most unique thing about Hawaii is the makeup of its people. There are no majority ethnic groups on the islands. To my surprise native Hawaiians make up only five % of the population. They are the friendliest five % you will ever meet. The largest ethnic population is the Japanese followed by people from the Philippines. In a way it is like visiting a foreign country without the need of a passport. There is no geography like Hawaii on the U S mainland and the people are from all over the world. However, every one seems to know English as well as you do. The architecture is new, modern and quite grand. You have the comfort of knowing that the laws and services, ie water, food, health, etc, are the same as back home. It is truly the best of both worlds.
All of my life I had wanted to go to Hawaii. Now that it is off my bucket list, I just want to go back. Save your vacation days and your money folks, and take the journey.