In between recanting my Hawaii travel stories, one of my colleagues suggested I start a travel blog called “Keepin’ it real with Diana”. Ha! Little did he know I was halfway there already! I usually like to post about the things around the world that I think are truly worth seeing and tend to stay away from the attractions and experiences that left me less than impressed (it’s not as fun to write about the stuff that makes me go “eh”), but in the spirit of keepin’ it real since I was recently in Hawaii, I’ve got to admit some of the most overrated Hawaiian tourist experiences:
1) Maui’s road to Hana
Every resource I’ve found on Maui, always without fail, recommends you drive the road to Hana. While the drive is scenic and lush with waterfalls here and there, the road is also windy and somewhat treacherous given that the eastern end of Maui is often met with rainfall. In some places the road is so narrow that only one car can pass at a time which makes the drive painfully slow – it takes at least 4 hours to drive the ~40 miles to Hana. By the time you arrive in Hana, you’re hungry, tired, and potentially carsick – not to mention, underwhelmed that Hana is just another homey Hawaiian village. With all the hype about the road there, you’d expect it to be more like the Garden of Eden. And, if you only gave yourself one day to make this drive, you’ve pretty much got to head home pretty soon afterwards — you don’t want to be caught trying to make it back on that windy road after the sun sets!
2) Watching the sunrise on Haleakala Volcano
People say this sunrise is life-changing, but I’ve never understood how “life changing” a sunrise can be. Years ago, Mr. T and I got up before the crack of dawn to see the sunrise over Angkor Wat since that was the “life changing” sunrise there. We woke up early and followed the ginormous crowd of fellow tourists in the pitch black darkness to witness the first signs of light over Angkor Wat and was our life changed? No. It was a beautiful sight and we got some pretty cool photos, but it was also freezing and hard to find a good spot to sit down and enjoy the spectacle. I imagine the sunrise at Haleakala would be similar except even colder at 4am than it was in Angkor Wat…. so, I’ve always turned it down. If I’m in Hawaii, I’m on vacation, and if I’m on vacation, I want to sleep in! I am open to life-changing sunsets in Hawaii, though.
3) The beaches
Hawaii is full of ‘em, but the beaches just aren’t that awesome… especially when I compare them to the beaches I’ve seen around the world. The Pacific Ocean is deep blue in Hawaii – not that turquoise hue that you find on practically every Caribbean beach (the little turquoise strips that appear under the right lighting don’t count). The beaches are long and not very wide. A lot of them are also lined with hotels. Most of the good beaches are also crowded with fellow tourists. If you’re in Hawaii looking for world-class beaches or remote virgin beaches you’re going to be disappointed.
For a string of islands that gets so many tourists a year, it’s amazing how “just ok” the dining there is. I’ve been to many of the highest rated restaurants in Hawaii and while good, none of were really “knock-your-socks-off-good” when I compared them to the restaurants I’ve had elsewhere in the world. I can’t even say that Hawaiian food tastes better in Hawaii than on the mainland. So, not only is the food “just ok”, it’s also really expensive in Hawaii – a situation I’d avoid if I could but I tend to accept when I’m in Hawaii (especially after a couple of overpriced mai tais).
5) Kauai’s Napali Coast
What the Road to Hana is to Maui the Napali Coast is to Kauai. On every Kauai “must see” list, these cliffs are only accessible by hiking or by boat. We took a boat there to view what the big deal was and what we found instead was a boat full of sea sick travelers! I guess when they tell you to visit the Napali Coast, they don’t tell you how choppy the water can be! The rugged mountain side is cool enough but we just didn’t see anything to write home about (certainly nothing worth getting sea sick for). I’ve seen similar and much more impressive rock formations in Turkey, Argentina, and Iceland.Have you been to Hawaii? What do you think?