Last week I had the pleasure to visit the Hawaiian Islands … again! It reminds me of the scene when Forrest Gump mentioned that he went to the White House and met the President of the United States … again.
For the past 12 years it’s been a pleasure to help promote the Bubba Gump Shrimp Company restaurants and share some Aloha Spirit in a unique and beautiful destination. Bubba Gump has locations on 3 of the 8 major Hawaiian Islands … Oahu, Maui and Kona (Hawaii – The Big Island).
One of the really interesting things for me is observing the different personalities of the 3 islands. Of course islands themselves don’t have personalities … it’s the people who live on the islands that give each island its own special feel. The physical characteristics of each island attract different types of people. These people give rise to a culture and more like-minded souls are attracted and choose to make it their home. Since I spend 2 days on each island and get to meet hundreds of people each day, I’ve developed a sense or feeling for each island.
If you’ve never had a chance to visit Hawaii, you need to put it on your list of must-see places. I suggest visiting as many of the islands as possible; experience the differences, see how they are similar, get a sense for their uniqueness. Give yourself the opportunity to encounter the personality of each island.
Here’s how I experience Oahu, Maui and Kona and their unique personalities.
Oahu. Oahu means The Gathering Place. Seventy percent of the inhabitants of the State of Hawaii live on Oahu. It has just over 900,000 residents. Oahu is where the business of Hawaii takes place. If you want to make things happen in Hawaii you need to be living (or doing business) on Oahu. Tourism is the number one business but with almost a million people a fully diverse economy flourishes. It’s a city.
If you enjoy variety in restaurants, entertainment and/or shopping, then you’ll want to live on Oahu. Of course Oahu also is home to Waikiki Beach, Pearl Harbor, Diamond Head, Punch Bowl, and the North Shore. The North Shore is where Ehukai Beach Park is located and where the famous Banzai Pipeline challenges the world’s greatest (and bravest) surfers.
The primary personality of Oahu is business. People who enjoy lots of other people and the many opportunities that arise from city life typically live on Oahu. But these same people also enjoy the Aloha Spirit, island life, and the many activities of island living. They describe it as the best of both worlds.
Maui. Maui truly is a tropical paradise. It is the first island I visited back in 1998. Being younger then I especially enjoyed the energy of people escaping life on the mainland to live in paradise. It was an escape for me.
When visiting Maui I meet many people who moved to Maui for an adventure. Maybe they were taking some time (a year or two or five) to escape the reality of the mainland? Maybe they needed a break from a previous job or relationship? Often they’ll stay for a year or two and get whatever they were escaping from purged from their system. Most are smart, well educated, ambitious … but needing some transformation in their life.
People who like living on Maui are very social, seeking adventure, typically well educated and intelligent … but they also have rejected the traditional lifestyle of the mainland … at least for a while.
Kona (Big Island). The Big Island is typically described as two halves … Kona and Hilo. Hilo is the east side and gets an average of 126 inches of rain each year. Kona is where I’ve spent 98% of my time on the Big Island. It’s hot and dry.
The typical Big Islander describes their love for the island because of its physical diversity … active volcanoes, tropical rain forests, the rolling hills and ranchlands of Waimea, black sand beaches, lava rock, and the hot and dry, south facing shores of Kona. I filmed a promotional run around the Big Island back in 1999. It’s a great visual experience of the Big Island’s many physical characteristics.
People on the big island are more similar to the people on Maui than the people on Oahu. They reject the traditional business model of the mainland. But they differ from Maui islanders by being less social. This does not mean they are less friendly, they are extremely friendly and accommodating. But they seem to simply require less social interaction to make them happy. Maybe they’re more introverted. They enjoy nature and the solitude the more spacious Big Island offers. They both prefer and enjoy the diverse physical characteristics of the continuously growing Big Island.
Each of the 3 Hawaiian Islands I regularly visit is special and unique. The people who live on each Island give them their own personality. That in turn attracts more like-minded people and a definite culture has developed for each. Just as the mainland or continental United States has its own distinctive regions and cultures, each of the Hawaiian Islands is unique, culturally diverse and with it’s own personality. I encourage you to go visit Hawaii and discover the differences between each island for yourself.
Hang loose and a hui ho … which is the Hawaiian term meaning until we meet again!
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Next Blog Date: September 23, 2010