The Unmanned Fruit Stalls
Being a tropical island, it's not surprising that Maui produces delicious exotic fruits but what’s interesting is the way these are sold. You’ll find small stalls of fruits, coconuts and other local produce by the roadside. Pick whatever you like and drop the change in a box – a simple system that works on good faith. Imagine that when you walk down the markets of NY or Mumbai next time! This rural charm is endearing and you begin to get a sense of the island’s integral Aloha spirit.
The Mixed Ancestry
If you pull up the world map, you’ll find that Hawaii is probably the most isolated population center in the world and requires a painful 14hr flight from New York. Historically these tropical islands served to be the crossroads of the Pacific; attracting sailors, traders & explorers from around the globe - From the nomadic wanderers of Polynesia & Tahiti (native Hawaiians) to the first European explorers in 1878, followed by catholic missionaries; to contract laborers from China to Portuguese, Japanese, Puerto Ricans, Koreans and Filipinos who migrated a century ago. Even though Hawaii is a recent addition to the Unites States, its ancestral linkage to the Asian subcontinent creates a distinct East meets West vibe. Today, what’s unique about this rich racial diversity is that everyone is an ethnic minority – there is no one dominating racial profile and yet the island personifies warmth and harmony where families have known each other for generations.
The Dramatic Sunset, Night Sky & the Milky Way
All of Hawaii’s beaches are public, even if you are a celebrity owning a beach house! Although Hawaii is synonymous with gorgeous clear beaches and scintillating shades of blue, green and teal that shine along the coast, the night sky is its hidden gem. The volcanic peaks towering high above the island serve as the perfect platform for astronomical laboratories & observatories. So much so that in the 1960s, astronauts trained for the moon voyage in Big Island by walking on Mauna Kea’s lava fields for its resemblance to the lunar surface.
The winding roads wrapped around the Haleakala Crater take you from sea level to 10000ft in less than two hours, ditching the city lights and pollution behind. As you breathe in the precious oxygen at the summit peak, the word WOW will pop out in every direction as you immerse yourself in this pristine timeless surrounding. Find yourself a good spot at the edge of the slopes, look down at the clouds beneath and get ready for one of the most dramatic sunsets you will ever witness. The rocky landscape around turns various shades of orange and red, the sun floats in a horizon-spanning band with its hues reflecting onto the clouds. In this nature-induced dreamy state, the shining white clouds appear like fluffy cushions enticing one to take the plunge. As the sun slips away, it is time to lie down on your back and witness the pitch dark sky adorn with a starry blanket. Apparently of all the stars that are visible from the earth, here you get to see about 80% of them – you will be 'starstruck'! For a truly spectacular experience, try scheduling this visit on a moonless night (yes I did look up a lunar calendar to find the new moon date!) and you are very likely to see the murky Milky Way arch stretch across the sky. The hazy Milky Way arc is a nothing but a fraction of the outward spiraling arms of the Milky Way galaxy. Imagine yourself as an ant standing on a frisbee disk, staring outwards at the edge of the disk, from this vantage point the ant can only see a fraction of the circular disk. And if you are a space geek, treat yourself with a professional stargazing tour - not every day that you would be standing under such dark skies. Looking through a 12” aperture telescope, you’ll be amazed looking at the misty glow of Nebula Orion, Jupiter & its perfectly aligned moons, twin stars and even the spiraling interstellar dust of other distant galaxies. It left me with one thought - How I wish I live to see interstellar travel in my lifetime!
These 6 hours of sight, solitude, and gratitude from sunset to midnight is a mind-numbingly beautiful experience. This, coupled with the lazy hours spent on the beach, the lush rainforest, the local shave ice and the sweetest pineapples will make that return flight harder than you’d like.
Visiting Hawaii is like going to some dreamy exotic islands to energize your mind and soul - All this while being within the US! Here are some of the amazing things we discovered in Hawaii!
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