A few weeks ago I did a 11 days stopover in Hawaii and wasn't prepared for all the things to see and to do there: The time just wasn't enough. I arrived in Honolulu in the evening and took the bus to Waikiki where the hostels are situated at. After the check-in i moved into the dorm room and started to talk to the guys there before going to sleep. The next couple of days where dominated by attractions around Honolulu, which is a city by all means. I walked along Chinatown, the Downtown area and the beaches, visited the Honolulu film festival (Dead Sushi yeah!), museums and the Pearl Harbour memorial. The memorial is actually free (the audio guide for 7,50$ makes the experience a lot more intense), but the technical museums (submarine, USS Arizona, Pacific Aviation Museum) aren't: I advice to skip them because they're to expensive for what they deliver. For me the best experience was to see a proper history treatment on U.S. Ground which actually helped me to better understand all the things which led to Pearl Harbour and to what Pearl Harbour led to. Although it was really worrying to see people pose in front of the engraved name plates posing and smiling for photographs: Is all sense of morale and humanity already lost?
The next day I flew to the Big Island (the Waikiki beach style of the people also started to bother me), picked up a rental car (red Ford Focus) and after driving to Target to stock up one week of supplies I started tour around the Island, stopping by deserts, beaches, jungles and volcanoes. The first day I already met a guy who was living on the Island since around 20 years just out of his van, but he told me the situation there gets more and more difficult. You're not allowed to camp on most places anymore and a lot of nice coastal parts are getting bought by investors for building big resorts or yacht harbours.
The following day I started a hike around Waimea/Waipio Valley which leads to an isolated valley where you only find a handful of people (i've seen nobody around) if you're lucky. It's quite exhausting but worth it. Even if you don't have many supplies because there is fishing equipment, palms and a source around.
When i returned back to the car the other day, it wouldn't start. Bummer. 2 hours and some phone calls later. Somebody arrived to give startup help but it cost me 80$! Next time I will figure out a cheaper solution by myself.
I kept on driving to the south to some of the volcanoes and spent there 2 days hiking and sleeping in the car on volcanoes, which was a really great experience. Following this I drove south to the southern most point of the U.S.A. Which is only a assembly of rocks and then kept on going up the west coast finding a hotel, doing laundry and having the first relaxing night since some days. The next morning I decided to go snorkling near the Captain Cook memorial where i ended up swimming with dolphins.
My last night I spent at the airport – actually in a restroom next to the Kona airport, which was the only place where the security would let me sleep there.
My flight to Honolulu/Oahu was leaving early in the morning and after arriving i got myself a convertible to tour the Island for the first and last time.
Lucky me: I was undecisive about the hostel for the last night. Although they're right next to each other I decided to go to the more expensive one I already knew. As I woke up in the morning I smelled smoke and looking out of the window I noticed there's a fire in the other hostel.
Looking back there are a lot of beuatiful places on the Island, some are close to what would regard as paradise and “The Big Island” alone with its changing scenery is worth a visit. But despite the beautiful landscape the Islands are always portrayed in the media (and of course tourist brochures) as a wholesale paradise, although there are some underlying problems right now. A lot is about property sales, growing living costs, native culture, retirees and so on. I think a good introduction to some of the topics is the movie “The Descendants” starring George Clooney.