Hawaii Vacation News Roundup for November 21st

  • The Big Island’s Visitors Bureau is promoting science tourism. There really are tremendous learning opportunities on the Big Island. On Hawaii, you can learn about marine biology, volcanoes, astronomy, agriculture, and aquaculture that will interest adults and children.
  • Cruise lines are dropping sailings to Hawaii in 2008. According to this USA Today article, 469 cruise ships are expected to sail to the Big Island, but next year that number will drop to 310. I’m sad to see that less cruise passengers will have the opportunity to see the Big Island and even sadder that this reduction will impact local employment.
  • If you are toying with the thoughts of a vacation in Molokai, maybe you should read this article from the Seattle Times. The article describes the mixed feelings Molokai has towards tourism and visitors.
  1. Moloka’i

    Over the years we’ve spent 5 vacations on Moloka’i. We’ve met some of the friendliest people we’ve ever met there and also some of the most unfriendly.

    A few years ago on a bulletin board outside of the bakery the author mentioned we saw a post that went something like, “Let’s change Molokai from the Friendly Isle to the Warrior Isle” to discourage visitors.

    We’ve also been invited to lunch by total strangers on our visits there.

    Our feelings are that it’s worth the visit if you like peace and quiet. We certainly enjoyed every trip we made there.


  2. Hi David – Thanks for sharing your experiences on Molokai. We have friends that live on Oahu who absolutely love Molokai. They had total strangers offer them the use of their truck when all the rental cars were sold out.

    From my brief visit to Molokai, I certainly felt the mixed messages. Some people were very friendly. What we found that was less than friendly were the abundance of bumper stickers and yard signs with messages something to the effect of “Visit, but don’t stay”. Those type of messages don’t exactly make a visitor feel welcomed even for a brief visit.

  3. Sheila, Regarding the “visit, but don’t stay” signs you saw while visiting Moloka’i. We certainly saw the same on our visits there. I think what we remember more though are people like the hostess at the restaurant where we ate most of our meals. On our last day there she presented us each with a lei she had made for us herself to say Aloha. She was truly a special person.

    The writer of the Seattle Times article quoted a local spokesperson as saying “that tourism policies be based not on what visitors want but on what residents are willing to share. ‘And we don’t want them to go everywhere.'” To us Moloka’i is a very special place. It’s what Hawaii used to be like in many ways. Once it’s allowed to change, it can never go back. So, in a way we understand their attitude.

    The writer also mentioned the reception Holland America got when they tried to add Moloka’i as a port of call. We were visiting Maui at the time and so got to see daily televisions reports of the drama unfolding. As I recall the island was about evenly divided on whether the ship should dock or not. In the end a storm came up which made the visit “unsafe” and supplied a convient way out for all.

    The similarity between the Holland America reception on Moloka’i and the Superferry’s reception on Maui and Kauai really struck me. On the neighbor islands there are many who have very strong feelings against change. It’s closer to the surface on Moloka’i, but we’ve certainly seen it on Maui also.

    We finally stopped visiting Moloka’i a few years ago, not because of any hostiliy we felt, but because it was just a little “to quiet” for us. While Maui is much more developed than Moloka’i, one doesn’t have to go to far off the beaten path to find the “old hawaii” there either. But once in a while when we’re up on the west end of Maui gazing across the water at Molokai’s beautiful rugged shore, I’d like to go back.

    Keep up the good work. I’m truly in awe of the great articles you write on a consistent basis.


  4. Hi David – I appreciate you adding the additional insight. That must have been so nice to have received that lei.

    I very much appreciate your kind words!

  5. Hi Sheila,

    I was very impressed by that article on your blog about tourism on Molokai. I remember trying to explain the situation to you a few months ago, but the article did an excellent job. Hawaii needs to carefully consider input from Hawaiians about sustainable tourism otherwise it will lose what it has kept it special for over a thousand years.

    Perhaps Molokai could consider a new slogan denoting it as a “sacred island”. Perhaps that way tourists will have different expectations and treat the locals and the island in more respectful way.

    I have seen some tourists on Oahu treat locals in a condescending way sometimes, but not very often. Some tourists pay big bucks to be pampered in expensive resorts, but they have to remember they are just like anyone else when they visit a local town to shop, dine or visit.

    Some of the friendliest Hawaiians I have met are in run down restaurants, outdoor craft fairs and road side stands. It sad to see some local people working 2-3 jobs just to be able to keep up with the cost of living here. I have also seen some Hawaiians working in expensive resorts, and they are just as friendly.

    Tourism in Hawaii has always posed a dilemma for Hawaiians. Will the promised “boost of the economy” from tourism translate into a higher quality of life for Hawaiians and will it help them preserve their culture and traditions?

    Some resorts have already taken the initiative to sponsor Hawaiian dancing groups (hula halau) and invite kupuna (older Hawaiians) to display and teach Hawaiian art and crafts in their lobbies. It would be nice if each lobby and perhaps all the artwork thoughout the hotel properties tell the story of Hawaii from a Hawaiian perspective.

  6. Hi Chris – Thanks for your additional insight on Molokai. I think that’s a great idea you have of changing the slogan to “sacred island”. The “friendly isle” implies that everyone loves visitors and I didn’t get the impression from the signs and bumper stickers that that’s the case.

    It makes me so sad to hear of local people not being treated with respect by visitors. Whenever possible on this blog, I encourage visitors to treat Hawaiians and their customs with respect.

    I grew up in the Appalachian Mountains which became a popular summer retreat for the rich and the rich wanna bes. It is also a popular ski destination in the winter. The visitors to the area treat local people very poorly. So, Hawaii is certainly not the only place that experiences problems from visitors. Sadly, I’m sure there are many, many other examples.

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