It’s no secret that Hawaii, and Maui in particular, is a pretty damn cool place. Mountains, the ocean, waterfalls, rainforest, humpback whales, bamboo forests, surfing, culture, food, beautiful people, crowds and tranquility, all on a single, beautiful tropical island. I don’t think anyone has ever left Maui and said “Yeah, that place super-sucked.”
After deciding to move here, I was initially worried that I had considered only the vacation perspective of life as opposed to the everyday, which can be very different and somewhat disappointing if you don’t know what you’re getting yourself into. But really, how else are you supposed to do it? I didn’t come here expecting to want to move, but I left knowing that I would. In fact, the only places I’ve ever moved are places I’ve been on vacation first… Austin, New York City, Costa Rica, Maui. Sometimes you can’t know if it’s right till you do it.
And while I know I’m no Maui expert after only a couple months on the island, my list of what’s cool about Maui just keeps growing.
As an outsider, it’s fascinating to move to a place that has its own unique culture, especially when that place is still conveniently located in the United States. I love the fact that the Hawaiian language is still widely used as well as local forms of Pidgin English. The cultural significance of lei making, Hawaiian dancing, music, food preparation, history and ancient legends is still widely recognized and deeply rooted in day-to-day life on the island. I enjoy seeing, hearing, tasting and living in a place that prides itself on generations of living “aloha.”
Without even considering any of the bajillion tour options available on the island, I can easily think of twenty different (often free) things to do. On any given day of the week, I can watch the windsurfers in North Kihei, the surfers on the North shore, snorkel at Black Rock, hike to a waterfall, swim in a stream in Iao Valley, lounge on the beach in Makena, catch some live music in Paia, visit a blowhole, picnic at the winery in Kula, go hiking on Haleakala, whale watching from the shore in Wailea, go shopping at a farmer’s market, relax at a Lahaina happy hour, or take a sunset walk. If you can’t find anything to do here, try harder.
I’m sure they’re out there, but I never want to go to an island where I’m not allowed to act as though I live on an island. I don’t want to dress up for dinner, feel bad about driving a twenty-year-old car or have more luck becoming a pet therapist than a teacher. There are lots of millionaires on this island, but I appreciate the fact that I have no idea who they are. Maui knows how to keep it casual, and I dig that about it.
I’m from Texas, so hot, flat, and dry are concepts I am familiar with. I can’t tell you how refreshing it is to walk down the street now and see the wide-open, sunny Pacific ocean on one side and a dormant volcano, mountains, and rolling clouds on the other. Even though I’m on a relatively small island, it seems much larger because there’s so much I haven’t seen yet. They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but in Maui, you don’t need to be holdin’ anything. No? Okay.
I still have lots more to learn about Maui and Hawaiian culture in general, but I’m thankful I get to be here to experience it firsthand.