Though 10 things are really just the tip of the volcano, we explore what makes Hawaii no ka oi.
One of the largest tourist destinations in the world, visitors and residents alike will tell you there's really nowhere else quite like the Hawaiian Islands. From the fascinating culture to the tropical scenery, surf, outdoor activities and cuisine, visitors of all ages don't have to look too hard to see the beauty of the aloha way of life.
As the only U.S. state able to grow coffee, it's safe to assume that anyone sipping their favorite Starbucks coffee beverage in the state of Hawaii is just plain missing out. Joining other 'Bean Belt' giants like Brazil, Vietnam, Indonesia, and Colombia, Hawaii-grown coffee can be found all over the globe, though there's no better excuse to try it than during a visit to the islands.
Although Big Island's Kona Coffee is the most well-known variety, Maui offers several locally-grown roasts sure to make you appreciate the wonder that is fresh caffeination.
We highly recommend a visit to our onsite Mill House Coffee Roasting Company, where we harvest, pulp, process and roast Red Catuai beans ourselves, in addition to offering other locally-grown varieties from West Maui's Ka'anapali Estate. Sit back, relax, and enjoy a cup of freshly roasted 100% Maui Grown Coffee with a view.
#2 Outdoor Dining
We love dinner on a crowded patio just as much as the next person, but unless that crowded patio also includes views of rolling clouds over tropical mountaintops and distant volcanoes, the smell of fragrant plumeria, and/or panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean, meh. We'll pass.
Though Hawaii restricts any commercial beach activity, including bars, cafes and restaurants, there are plenty of places to enjoy a delicious meal in a gorgeous setting.
Some of our favorites include The Mill House (have you seen our view?!), shrimp trucks on Oahu's north shore, Manele Bay breakfast views from Lanai's Four Seasons Resort, Volcano House in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, The Proud Peacock in Waimea Valley, and many more.
Each year, thousands of North Pacific humpback whales migrate from Alaskan waters to the warm, shallow waters surrounding the Hawaiian Islands from November to May.
But what makes whale watching in Hawaii better than anywhere else?
Since they make the long swim specifically to mate, give birth, and nurse their young, this means a large number of baby humpback whales are frolicking around our islands, often learning important behaviors like breaching, pec slapping, spy hopping, tail slapping, and more. And unlike whale watching in colder climates, in Hawaii, you're able to whale watch from shore, by boat, stand up paddleboard, kayak, and even a helicopter ride.
Believed to be a representation of Kanaloa, the Hawaiian Demigod of Ocean Animals, whales have been depicted in ancient petroglyphs throughout the islands since the ancient Polynesian era, and we hope to see their continual rise in population over time.
#4 Board Sports
Because Hawaii is located in the middle of nowhere in the big blue Pacific, and is in fact the most isolated population center on Earth, it's no wonder that the ocean became second nature to the people who have called it home.
Once a popular activity among chiefs, the sport of surfing has a long and fascinating history in the Hawaiian Islands, and one that continues to draw thousands of surfers here each year to enjoy our amazing surf and weather conditions. But that's not the only board sport that originated here.
In the 1940's, Waikiki surf legends like Duke Kahanamoku and the AhChoy brothers used paddles and stood on their boards to better see their surf students and incoming swells, thus creating the first known SUP sport.
Athletes can also enjoy Hawaii's epic conditions for other board sports like windsurfing, kitesurfing, and even wakeboarding.
There aren't many places in the world where you can hike in a volcanic crater, through a bamboo forest, to a waterfall, along a mountainous ridge, and to a remote beach in the same day. Thankfully, Hawaii is one of those places.
Some of the most stunning (and uncrowded) locations in Hawaii are those that can only be reached by hiking trails, and we consider ourselves truly lucky to live in a place that makes other hiking destinations look like child's play.
For serious hikers, we highly recommend Kauai's famed Kalaulau Trail along the Na Pali Coastline or Maui's Kaupo Trail, while those with moderate levels of experience will enjoy Maui's Pipiwai Trail, the Big Island's Kilauea Craters Trail, and Oahu's Diamondhead Summit Trail or Maunawili Falls Trail.
#6 Talking Story
Anyone can talk, but not everyone can talk story, brah.
Since a written language wasn't introduced in Hawaii until the arrival of missionaries in the mid 19th century, storytelling was the primary way of passing down important information, including Hawaiian stories and ancient legends. Known as mo'olelo, the art of talking story continues to be a valuable practice for many in the Aloha State.
Today, getting together to 'talk story' generally means chatting, swapping stories, and sharing ideas, and is one of the best things to do with local residents when visiting the Hawaiian Islands.
If you're the type of person who feels the need to break the silence or begin conversations with topics of weather, chances are you won't find much to say beyond "sure is beautiful today" in Hawaii.
With average annual temperatures fluctuating wildly between 73 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit, and a large number of microclimates that make prolonged, heavy rainfall fairly easy to avoid, it's safe to say the weather just got a whole lot better than wherever you flew in from.
Not a fan of sunshine, tropical breezes, dramatic sunsets and frequent rainbows? We hear Canada's great!
#8 Environmental Considerations
One thing you'll notice about the majority of Hawaii's beaches, as opposed to others we've experienced in popular areas of Mexico, Southeast Asia or even the Caribbean, is the lack of trash, waste and general pollution.
Not only does Hawaii take pride in the 'aina (land), but we also consider our role within the environment. Many companies and foundations recognize the growing importance of sustainability and eco-conscious tourism, and steps are being taken everyday to ensure we leave the islands set up for success for future generations.
Although there's still plenty of work to do, and many controversial issues at stake, residents have managed to win several groundbreaking measures to change the course of farming and land use on many of the islands.
#9 The Super Soft Sell
Another thing notably missing from Hawaii's beaches? The art of the hard sell. Or selling at all, in fact.
That's right. Remember when we mentioned that commercial activity is not allowed on beaches in Hawaii? That also includes hawking, peddling, pushing, touting, marketing, auctioning and vending anything, which means you can go back to reading your book in peace without awkwardly avoiding eye contact or returning home with seventeen new unnecessary souvenirs.
Hawaii does SPAM justice - we don't consume 7 million cans of it a year for nothin', after all.
While in Hawaii, you're likely to notice dishes like Spam Musubi, Spam Fried Rice, and Spam & Eggs on many menus. And should you develop a taste for it, or simply consider yourself a hardcore Spammer, simply plan your next trip in time to attend the annual Waikiki Spam Jam. It's a thing.
We hope to see you at our coffee house, restaurant or a Chef's Table event soon, and mahalo for reading!