When I’m about to travel to a destination I’m always excited.
I get myself psyched up by googling local food options (because what is travel without food??)
I read up about local history and spend copious amounts of time on Insta’ looking up pretty photos.
I’m not going to lie, I was looking forward to Hawaii in a really big way.
I’ve had many people tell me how much they loved Hawaii, and everything I’ve seen online and read seemed to indicate that Hawaii was the kind of place that I would love visiting.
And it was. It was a beautiful place.
But at the same time, it sort of wasn’t.
When I read over this blog post again, I’m not sure it’ll make sense. But I sort of loved and didn’t really love Hawaii at the same time.
Well here goes…
Let’s start with the things I loved about Hawaii…
I loved the natural beauty of Hawaii.
I loved the beaches (as an Australian, I can confirm, beaches in Hawaii are top notch)
I loved the water sports (seeing people surf – BE STILL MY BEATING HEART!)
I loved snorkelling and seeing the reefs and fish.
I loved trying stand up paddle boarding for the first time.
I loved seeing the nene in national parks (yes, these geese are called nene and they have so much attitude!)
I loved the food… The fresh sea food. Trying loco mocos for the first time. Spam (in everything!)
I loved poke bowls *drools* because poke Bowls in Hawaii are next level, and I don’t care what anyone says, a poke bowl in Australia has nothing on Hawaiian Poke bowls.
What I didn’t love about Hawaii?
This is harder to put into words, and please do not misinterpret this as me hating on Hawaii.
I didn’t love the chain resorts prevalent throughout Hawaii, namely in Maui. This shouldn’t be a surprise for many of you who’ve followed me for a while now, but big chain resorts just don’t do it for me.
Do they have their place in travel?
Sometimes you need to relax, sometimes you don’t want to think about travel planning, and a resort is the best type of holiday if that’s what you need when traveling.
But big corporate chain resorts in Hawaii somehow felt extra gross.
They seem different to your normal resorts.
Some of these resorts hold Hawaiian activities – like classes, or luaus, but they seemed to 100% serve tourists.
Yes, hotels are in the business of tourists.
What I mean by this is that some of these hotels show Hawaiian culture and art form in a way that appeals to tourists. We’re talking luaus that have fire breathing performances, when fire breathing is not part of Hawaiian culture.
And I preface this by saying I’m not an expert in Hawaiian culture or history. But there’s something about knowing that these resorts show tourists what they think tourists want, rather than genuine Hawaiian culture that makes me feel so gross.
And yes, there are exceptions to this rule (I visited one resort in particular that I felt was respectful to Hawaiian culture) but this wasn’t the norm when it came to resorts.
Knowing that this was how some in the tourism industry operated, made me feel extra gross as a tourist.
And to add to this, many foreign investors, US-mainland Airbnb owners are also pricing out local Hawaiins from the property market, increasing the cost of living and you have an environment that is struggling to balance serving one of it’s biggest exports (tourism) with the wellbeing of locals.
I’m not an expert on overtourism, and I’m not an expert on the overtourism that happens in Hawaii.
But knowing these issues existed combined with gross mis-representation of Hawaiian culture and art to tourists, and I felt gross.
I don’t often feel guilty for visiting a place, but I sort of felt guilty about visiting Hawaii.
And I’m not sure what the answer is. Do I not visit again? Do I avoid “touristy” places in Hawaii?
Do I avoid resorts in Hawaii?
Is that the answer?
I don’t know. All I know is that there is no one solution to a destination that is so popular with tourists.
And if you’re planning on visiting Hawaii, I don’t want this post to put you off from visiting.
Hawaii is a beautiful place. I don’t regret visiting, but what I do wish more people knew was how their actions impact locals and their quality of life.
Tourism can definitely help a place, but it can also be a double edged sword that is harmful too.