In these clear waters of Kāʻanapali Beach, Maui, we swam with a huge, Hawaiian green sea turtle.
The turtle glided underwater very gracefully and silently. It appeared from nowhere and we didn’t try to chase it. With huge, strong strokes, it swam past me like it didn’t even notice me.
The turtle made an impression on me – this was a wild animal, at home in these soft waves. A sign somewhere told us that the green sea turtle was called na honu in Hawaiian.
We had timed our holiday well and had the beach almost to ourselves for the couple of weeks we spent in Maui. So peaceful and relaxing to be away from the crowds of Waikiki. We’d chosen a budget hotel next to some fancier ones. It was perfect – even though one night, when it rained, I woke up with rain water dripping on me.
In the evenings, we ate sandwiches for dinner in our hotel room with the terrace door open and listened to a nearby luau which always ended in Iz Kamakawiwoʻole’s Somewhere Over the Rainbow. I’d never heard that version of the song before and it enchanted me.
So many different ways you could interpret the same experience from a traveler’s perspective – to someone, Hawaii might be just another mass tourism destination. And to someone else, it’s an exotic, isolated group of islands in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. The Hawaii I saw had something primitive about it; the volcanoes, the plants, the lush green hills.
I could even imagine the origins of the fire and hula dances performed for tourists. Maybe similar dances were performed for the first explorers, who came by ship. Maybe the intention was even half-hostile, when you think of what (allegedly) happened to Captain Cook. Some of those fire dances looked fierce.
Sure, there’s no denying the abundance of commercialism, but I didn’t mind. Exactly the opposite, in fact: the brands, the humongous portion sizes, and the other details were new to me, since I’d never been to the USA (or should I say, elsewhere in the USA). I simply enjoyed the blend of urban and beach – it reminded me of Australia, with many of the places’ names still in the indigenous language.
The globe is getting smaller and people are traveling more. Traveling has become a mainstream dream. I can see this simply from the amount of travel industry schools in my home town today, whereas when I was choosing my future profession as little as 15 – 20 years ago, there was only one. Applying for work at an airline back then resulted in a job, whereas these days there are thousands of applications to compete with. People are more educated of what they want, it seems, and they dare to dream more. And I’m all for dreaming, go for it.
With all this traveling, one day we won’t be able to distinguish between the so-called tourist spots and the rest. All destinations will simply be destinations, because everyone’s already been everywhere, and we won’t be able to call someone a tourist while referring to ourselves as travelers. And I actually wouldn’t mind that, either.
For someone, going to Maui means going to a lively luau and drinking sweet cocktails with umbrellas.
For me, it meant swimming underwater with a huge, wild turtle in complete silence. Yes, you can do that in Hawaii.