ALOHA. One of the nice things about living in New Zealand is that Hawaii is on our way home. Once again, we visited Hana, Maui, where we camped in Myke's yard. There are no night clubs or coffee shops, but the nature is perfect, with three of our favorite beaches, one black, one red, and one perfect for body surfing. I love to bike up the hill to Pua'a Ka'a, jump in the refreshing waterfall, then bike down the hill - the perfect ride.
We spent two months in Hawaii with zero hotels. Nice! First we visited Maui Myke Embe, a weaver, a wise-ass, a wanna-be rock star, and a fellow roadie. Myke lives in Hana, a special place; local law prohibits new commercial development, and the narrow road forces everyone to drive slowly, keeping the tourist hordes at a distance. We love this patch of paradise. Myke lives off the grid with solar power and propane in a beautiful jungle with fruit trees. He set us up with two bicycles. Perfect.
Next we went to Kauai to house-sit for my aunt Wendy. The highlight was camping on the Napali Coast. Wow! The 11 mile Kalalau Trail is perhaps the world's greatest hike, with breath-taking scenery, ending at an incredible beach with a waterfall just the right size for a shower. The Kalalau Valley is sufficiently remote and lush that a community of friendly (often naked) hippies lives there permanently. Park rangers fly in with their helicopter to check camping permits on the beach, but there's not much they can do about the hippies short of a military invasion. Only go if you are an experienced camper, because the trail is sketchy, sometimes narrow with loose rocks and drop-offs to the ocean. This keeps the tourist hordes away :-)
Thanks to humans, Maui has mongoose, an invasive species that has killed all the native birds. That is one reason why people on Kauai resist the so-called Super Ferry from Honolulu. If the Super Ferry arrives, it will bring mongoose, traffic and crime, but that doesn't seem to bother the corporation behind the endeavor. This battle is not over yet, but it seems that in this case, the good guys might just win. The last time the ferry tried to dock, a fleet of surfers successfully blocked entry to the harbor. Thanks to the nearly complete lack of predators (there are some "wild" cats), Kauai still has native birds (unlike Maui); it also has "wild" chickens (released from their enclosures during Hurricane Iniki). Lili says if this were Brazil, all those chickens would be dinner.
Sadly, the traditional culture is gone. From Kauai one can see the "forbidden" island of Niihau, where Hawaiians still live without electricity, but Niihau is the exception that proves the rule: Hawaii has been taken over by an invasive species known as "howlies" (rich Americans who buy up the nice real estate). I don't blame the locals for being angry; Hawaii has become America's backyard playground. One bumper sticker sums it up: "Welcome to Hawaii. Now go home." They want their country back. But history is what it is; the explorers brought fruit trees, too.
Aloha means love.
We went to the Big Island to hike on the world's most active volcano. Then we went to a family reunion on Kauai, where my aunt Wendy lives. We spent one night on Oahu's Waikiki Beach. Finally we went to Maui to visit Myke; Hana is a very special place (described above). Nice!
PS: Here's a gallery of Wendy's superb underwater photography.