Hey friend 🥰
Have you ever heard somebody ask what the difference between Hawai'i and Disneyland was? I hope not, because it's an absurd comparison. Yet, this is a question I read in a thread on Tripadvisor. I'm sharing my thoughts in this article. I'm also throwing in my two cents on how you could be a better Hawai'i tourist (and avoid shitty assumptions about Hawai'i like the above).
When I did some research for my online course about the Hawaiian Islands I stumpled upon an entry on Tripadvisor where a user asked whether Hawai'i was as much fun as Disneyland.
Ehm, excuse me - is this a serious question?
Vacationing in Hawai'i is not the same as going to an amusement park.
In fact, visiting Hawai'i is NOTHING like going to an amusement park.
Visiting Hawai'i is all about the beautiful scenery, nature and Hawaiian people.
When going to amusement parks, the intention is to let loose, to relax, to soak it all in and to consume. Food, fun, fantasy.
Indulgence is prevalent.
When visiting Hawai'i (or really any travel destination), the intention should be to be generous, giving and to be in a state of constant curiosity.
Reducing the need to consume and to live in excess. To be present and amazed by what's surrounding you in the natural world.
Surely, relaxing and being spoiled at times are no sins. It is necessary. But it can't be the only thing we do while vacationing and it can't be our sole motivation to travel.
The motives that make us book a trip are:
- freeing the mind
- relaxing the body
- soothing the soul
- getting away from home and routines
- being carefree for a few days
Media and advertisements constantly show us what we lack and offer solutions to fill that gap.
We are taught to purchase stuff to make ourselves feel better.
We are taught that we are not enough without their products.
That our happiness is dependent on external things from the material world to make us feel great.
Travel destinations are supposed to take our worries away.
Sandy beaches, palm trees, cocktails, crashing waves, swift winds.
Amusement parks are fake, man-made, anthropogenic picture-perfect worlds where we hug stuffed animals, laugh a lot and where everyone is happy and funny and kind.
Amusement parks are not the homes of actual people. Nobody lives there. Attractions were erected for us to have fun and experience thrill and excitement. Everything is arragend and set up for us to be spoiled the entire day.
Hawai'i, on the other hand, is a real world.
It's a place that was created by volcanoes, over millions of years. Actual people live here. Hawaiian residents are not stuffed animals. They are not there to please us, but to show us their culture, their way of life.
Hawai'i is a natural world, teeming with life, rich in culture and traditions.
Hawai'i has a history few know of. Hawai'i is an authentic place, where nothing is as perfect as it is portrayed in movies and on social media. There is crime in Hawai'i, and poverty, homelessness, and dirt and trash and many cars and not every beach is white and impeccable.
Hawai'i is raw and wild.
Hawai'i offers natural attractions that can be discovered and explored by humans.
Those sights were not made for us by anyone. They were not meant to be tourist spots. Nothing in the natural world was set up for us.
The sights we enjoy today are simply remants of natural processes such as volcanic eruptions, weathering and erosion.
And we are lucky to live exactly in this moment, because these monuments and landscapes will only look like this for a few thousand to million years.
These natural processes are permanent. Shaping Hawai'i RIGHT NOW, as you're reading this.
We don't own Hawai'i. Hawai'i is not a thing. It can't be owned. It was not erected to be a tourist magnet.
It deserves to be treated as the jewel it is. Above all, it deserves to be respected. Hawaiian residents deserve to be respected.
Even thinking to compare it to an amusement park is an insult.
When visiting Hawai'i, we can learn so much about life and ourselves.
Because travelling does allow us to break free from routines and every day worries. It does calm our minds and frees our souls. It does make us feel great and happy and content.
If we allow it to.
We don't need all that much for all this to happen.
We just need to be.
With the people we care about, in the moment, without much clutter.
All we need to feel these great emotions of freedom and happiness is to condition our minds to live and respond with love, affection, empathy and respect.
Automatically, we learn to be better humans and we will learn to be much happier with ourselves.
We don't need to purchase all that stuff we are being offered. You don't need that new car or new laptop or whatever, unless the old one's broken.
Respecting our fellow humans and the nature we live in is a great way to start to be a more thoughtful, socially conscious Hawai'i traveler.
When you do that, you are already a great tourist.
Because when we educate ourselves, we condition our minds to listen, to be amazed, and to start to see the world in a larger context - and our role in all this magic.
I want you to see the bigger picture. To connect to Hawai'i on a deeper level.
Automatically, you'll contribute to conscious, sustainable, respectful travelling.
Hawai'i is special. Learn as much as you can about the islands (nature, culture, geology).
Because it will automatically connect you with the islands and the people on a deeper level. This will make you a tourist who truly cares and gives instead of one that only consumes.
Plus: You will have an even better vacation than you imagined.
Afterall, Hawai'i is not an amusement park, but a chain of volcanic islands longing to be explored, appreciated and cared for. 🌋
Be kind and love nature,
Psssst: You're lucky! 🍀 There are two online courses about Hawai'i available for you at EarthyUniversity. Learn more here.
About the author
Daniela is convinced that by gaining deep insights into planet Earth and travel destinations you’ll create meaningful, grounding and memorable life and travel experiences. She explains fundamental geological processes that form and shape landscapes and combines these insights with philosophical and philanthropical views in her online courses, articles, and newsletter. She holds two bachelor's degrees in geosciences (B.Sc.) and business administration with tourism (B.A.). She is the owner and founder of EarthyMe, EarthyUniversity and the Science of Travel blog and the Stories of Earth newsletter.
Image Credit: tatonomusic via Unsplash