Your Set of Drifters’ eventual roads to Hawaii vary. While Doug had always been a fan of vintage “Hawaiiana,” tikis and associated exotica, it was not until a 2012 birthday trip to Kauai, that he actually got “lei’d.” As for Brady, the Valley Isle of Maui became his introduction to Polynesia during two back-to-back family trips in the late '90s.
Of course, your Set of Drifters were far from the first to discover this verdant little gem of an archipelago. Westerners crash landed onto Hawaiian shores in the late 1770s, under the direction of Captain James Cook. It would be a long and winding road over the next 175 years until Hawaii finally became America’s 50th state - and the birthplace of current President Barack Obama, but through it all (Kamehameha, Pearl Harbor, volcanoes!), one thing has remained intact: its “spirit of aloha.”
We won’t bore you with an explanation of the concept now, since “aloha” can really only be understood once you’ve experienced it. What we will tell you is that the Hawaiian coverage that follows centers heavily on the three islands we’ve spent adequate time in. Sure, peripheral mentions of Honolulu and Oahu are peppered throughout, but mostly, it’s an all-out assault on Maui, Kauai and the “Big Island” - by land, by air and by sea!
Maui is certainly the most accessible of the three islands - both physically and literally. And it’s perhaps the best option for newcomers who are looking for a little bit of everything Hawaii has to offer. The towns, beaches and mountains of the “Valley Isle” seem to perfectly blend the creature-comforts from Oahu with the intense beauty of Kauai.
Though if it’s a real departure from the “daily grind” that you seek, Maui may not be remote enough. For this, we recommend Kauai, arguably the most “exotic” and beautiful location you’ll find in the United States. An island with two distinct personalities, Kauai’s south and north shores offer unparalleled variety when it comes to terrain - rainforests near Hanalei, sunny beaches in Poipu, and a virtual “Grand Canyon” at Waimea!
After our Kauai trip in October 2012, Doug was hooked, and it only took a couple more years for us to return, this time to the youngest island in the chain, Hawaii itself. More spread out, and thus less populous, the Big Island may just be our favorite. Perhaps it’s the abundance of vintage mid-century architecture that can be found in almost every large town on the island. (With space to play, older buildings are not torn down as quickly to make way for new resorts.)
Home to Mauna Loa, Mauna Kea and Kilahuea, Hawaii also boasts the United States’ most active volcanoes. Lava rocks from ancient and modern flows make up the majority of the terrain - but depending on your homebase, those visiting the Big Island will discover nearby rainforests, idyllic beachfronts - and even “upcountry” cattle ranches! (We loved the groovy resorts near Kailua-Kona and recommend this area as your jumping-off point for a number of once-in-a-lifetime experiences.)
But no matter what island you choose, chances are you’re going to find the R&R - and adventure - you seek. Friends, this is Hawaii, the closest you’ll come to an “American paradise.”