In Search Of a Perfect Travel Destination – Hawaii
The guest blogger, Lauri Mäkikalli, is a student and tennis player from Wright State University.
Opening up Google maps and playing around with different travel itineraries has become one of my favorite pastime hobbies. I place my central to Ohio and start to look around. I realize South-America has been on my wish list already for a while. Eastern North-Africa doesn’t look to be too far. What about Cuba? Or Dominican Republic? Then I come up with a perfect road trip plan for Central America until I realize I have a month to learn the basics of Spanish. Even with my tight schedule and upcoming finals I think I can do it. But before I had even thought about pronouncing gato I find myself with a roundtrip ticket to somewhere else.
When I booked my flights to Hawaii in November I didn’t really know what to look for. Of course I had a vision of a beautiful sunset on a palm tree beach where Hula Hula girls would dance to traditional Hawaiian music. But that was all I knew about the islands that I counted to be eight in total. I had a three week break from school and an adventurous mind. On the 13th of December I packed my stuff and took off.
Let’s go farming!
I ended up visiting two of the islands. 3,4 million years old Oahu, being the third oldest island in Hawaii, was my first destination. I instantly fell in love with the scenery. If it was a day at the beach or a morning run in a park I would always find myself surrounded by green steep volcanoes. Flora and fauna are present whether you are in the middle of nowhere or in the heart of a city. But Hawaii is not just about natural beauty. Being isolated from the mainland U.S., having a fertile soil and an all year around tropical weather, Hawaii makes a perfect place for farming. I wanted to see this in practice.
The next day I found myself in the leeward Oahu close to the town of Waianae at Kahumana Farms. Not only was I able to enjoy their warm hospitality and delicious all-organic menu but also got an opportunity to get my hands dirty. I was happy to learn from the workers who were mostly volunteering via WWOOF, which stands for World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms. For those who are not familiar with the organization it is basically a way for farmers and volunteers to connect with each others. For the work a volunteer puts in he/she in turn usually gets education about organic farming, some food and a place to stay from the farmer.
I spent some time with Todd from Austin, Texas, who by the time had been in Hawaii for a month as a wwoofer. Kahumana was the second farm he was volunteering at, spending the first month of his stay on the Big Island, known for great farming conditions. Many wwoofers usually work at several farms, so that they will see how things are done differently elsewhere and with different crops. As an avid food lover Todd said wwoofing greatly helped him to learn more about sustainability and convinced him to follow his fathers foot steps as an organic farmer. Todd taught me to do seeding and I quickly learned ways how to grow herbs and plants in your own garden. However, out of all the wwoofers I met during my trip Todd was actually the only person who dreamed of becoming a farmer. The wonderful thing about wwoofing is that you meet similar minded people from all over the world who can be from very different backgrounds, not often related to agriculture. As I personally signed up on the last minute I didn’t end up getting many offers from farmers via WWOOF. Just going to the farm and introducing yourself is another way.
Discovering Maui’s health food scene
After four well eaten days at the farm I took a short flight to the island of Maui where I enjoyed the rest of my stay. In two weeks I was able to tour the whole island and experience its beauty. Even though Hawaii has many great local and organic food store chains like Whole Foods and Down to Earth, my personal and ultimate favorite is located in a small town of Paia. The place is called ”Mana” and it offers everything like Whole Foods and Down to Earth: Delicious delis with hot food and salad bars, a great variety of local fresh fruits, nuts and seeds, cheese and meats, and a superfood section filled with everything from the best products on the market to their local equivalents. The difference between Mana and other health food stores in Hawaii is that you can find some of the organic choices from Mana for cheaper than the conventional ones at a nearby supermarket. As a new local friend of mine aptly put it, ”Mana is like Whole Foods on steroids”.
As available, I decided to try locally grown Noni and Spirulina in powders which I mixed with my morning juices. Being a coconut lover I was also happy to find coconut juice from all little food shops and gas stations in case fresh coconuts weren’t accessible. These three things with a natural daily dosage of vitamin D really made an impact on my skin condition. When it came to longer hikes and runs I got all the energy and nutrients I needed from cacao, hempseeds and FSF-Instants, not forgetting the mighty coconut water for hydration and replenishing electrolytes.
Living life in harmony with the nature
After spending three weeks on these two islands and having a few talks and chats with local people, I realized that Hawaiians truly understand the vulnerability of their beautiful islands. Sustainability is present in Hawaiian food culture but visible also in the scenery where numerous roofs are covered in solar panels and windmills line up on the hills. From local farmers markets you will leave either with a paper bag or one of your own. Many of these examples are enforced with laws and incentives like the plastic bag ban by the Maui County.
As I only experienced the two most visited Hawaiian islands the next time I’m planning to explore the more exotic ones. I recommend visiting Hawaii for everyone at least once in their lifetime. With its loving people, beautiful nature, and local food Hawaii is able to nurture your soul, mind and body all at the same time. One thing is for sure: Wherever there you end up going you will love it.
TOP 3 Oahu and Maui:
1. Visit local farmers markets and health food stores – they are never too far away
2. Try local superfoods, fruits and fish and you will be surprised by the quality and freshness
3. Enjoy the natural beauty your favorite way