Talking Story

honoluluRounding out my five biggest myth-conceptions about Hawaii is #5:

Going to Hawaii is like stepping back to a simpler time.

Because vacationers dream of Hawaii as an idyllic backwater paradise, it knocks people’s socks off to learn that by the mid-1800s Hawaii had the highest literacy rate in the world, the first newspapers west of the Rockies, and that Iolani Palace, the home of Hawaii’s monarchs, had telephones and electricity before the White House in Washington, DC.

It was good to be the King.

The city of Honolulu, which melts seamlessly into the tourist mecca of Waikiki, is the 10th largest city in the United States. On the isle of Oahu, Hawaii’s largest population center, islanders spend on average more than two hours a day in stop and go traffic, ranking Honolulu the third worse commute in North America, just behind Los Angeles and Vancouver.

You can imagine the shock this causes honeymooners from Nebraska who are expecting grass huts nestled near waterfalls.

The good news is if your perfect Hawaiian vacation depends on grass huts and waterfalls, we do have a few of those around. For around $130 tour buses will pick you up from your Waikiki hotel and take you to an authentic reenactment village. Just don’t expect the locals posing for your photos as you try your hand at pounding poi, weaving lauhala mats, or hula to actually live there. Most are islanders, not Hawaiians, and your once-in-a-lifetime Kodak moment is probably their second job after a two hour commute.

But they’ll try their darndest to make it special. We get the power of vacations, too.

Hurricanes, active volcanoes, earthquakes, tsunamis, and traffic jams aside, we still think we’re lucky we live Hawaii.

Because we are.


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