Someone once asked, "If it's tourist season, why can't we kill them?" I imagine whoever said this was Hawaiian, because it must be frustrating for those born to an island paradise to share it with gawking, nosy, rude, loud, curious strangers from all over the world.
Before I left for Kaua'i, and since I've returned, a number of people have told me that Hawaiians are rude and a little dangerous. "They acted like they didn't want me there," one man said, "so now I vacation in the Bahamas, where the locals at least act like they are happy to see me."
Tourists are sight-seers, consumers of alien cultures with no vested interest in the future of those cultures. They are interested in comfort and convenience during their week-long vacations, and they leave with lots of photos, trinkets, and memories. The Hawaiians, however, are searching for their lost culture, trying to resurrect it in the aftermath of messy colonization and in hard economic times. When tourists respect their search and act like the polite guests we should be, the interaction can be rewarding.
At least it was for us.
George and I have discovered the key to a pleasant tourist experience is to stay someplace nice. That way, when you're not out running around sight-seeing, you have a pleasant, relaxing place to chill out. Thanks to my in-laws Barb and Roger, we stayed at a lovely resort on the East Shore of Kaua'i...the Waipouli Beach Resort and Spa. It has an amazing pool, gym, comfortable condos with nice appointments (SubZero fridges, granite countertops, jetted tubs), and lovely landscaping. There's a restaurant on the property, the Oasis, where we spent many happy hours sipping drinks, listening to ukulele music, eating delicious appetizers, listening to the waves and birds, and feeling the caress of a tropical breeze...a delightful way to wind down the day.
The resort is across the street from two grocery stores, a Starbucks, McDonald's, Subway, and some tourist-y shopping. This made it convenient to feed Jack, who ate mainly chocolate chip cookies, watermelon, and McDonald's fries for a week. And I certainly wasn't complaining about the Starbucks, which gave me caffeine and chocolate for dealing with the six-hour time difference.
There was also a Whaling Wall by the artist Wyland, visible from our lanai on the land side of the resort. I love his Whaling Walls. George and I visited his gallery in Florida years ago, and it was truly amazing to stumble upon a wall in such a perfect place.
The beach at the resort, though lovely and very much appreciated by monk seals, isn't great for swimming due to riptides and coral. The pool makes up for that. (Besides, there are much better beaches an easy drive away.) The pool is set up like a meandering river, with waterfalls, water slides, and a sandy-bottom kid pool. There are several hot tubs, one of which is open to children.
The landscaping is everything you could want in an island getaway...lots of blooming flowers, a lily pond (complete with koi and at least one huge frog), and beautiful birds flitting about and singing songs that sound so different from the ones we hear at home.
We went to the pool every day to relax and let the kids work off energy.
Tourists go sight-seeing...just to look, to take pictures, maybe walk around, but not really to do much more than experience being someplace really cool. Our sight-seeing destinations included Wailua Falls (of Fantasy Island fame), Kilauea Lighthouse, McBryde Gardens, the Spouting Horn, Waimea Canyon, Hanalei Bay, and of course, the Blue Dolphin cruise of the Na Pali coast (which will probably have its own post of just George's photos).
|George in a vine cave at McBryde Gardens|
|View from a lookout in Waimea Canyon|
|Hanalei Bay...the water wasn't clear due to time of year, but this |
looked like my vision of a Hawaiian beach, sand surrounded
by green mountains
Seeing the sights underwater requires special gear, so my in-laws rented snorkel gear at Snorkel Bob's (a short walk from the resort, very polite staff), and because so many of us had never snorkeled, we practiced at Lydgate Beach Park, which offers a very protected, shallow area for novices who want to figure snorkeling out in a safe place before hitting open-water reefs. There were some cool fish there, including a small snowflake moray (spotted by George), tangs, wrasses, and tobies.
The best variety of snorkeling was on the cruise, where we snorkeled over a largish reef about 13 feet under the surface. The variety there was astonishing, and even though I didn't dive down to the coral, I still saw a LOT of different fish.
We also snorkeled at 'Anini Beach, which has a reef that offers somewhat protected snorkeling in water that was mostly just above my head. The current pushes you to shore, as long as you stay away from the reef inlet, which is very easy to do. I did get tired more quickly there than in either of the other snorkeling adventures because of the current, and the number of fish was smaller than on the Na Pali reef. But 'Anini Beach is where we snorkeled with sea turtles, so it ranks as my favorite activity of the whole trip.
This post just scratches the surface of our experience in Kaua'i. The shopping! The food! The seals! The dangerous sea creatures! Oh, so much to write about, and so many pictures to post!
In future posts, I'll share what it meant to me to be in these beautiful places and to see a bit of Hawaiian culture and spend time with family. My own experience as a tourist in Kaua'i reflects the quotation on the sidebar of this blog: "What we see depends mainly on what we look for." I looked for beauty and kindness and amazing experiences.
I found them.