Honolulu Hawaii Island Dreams

Hawaii : In the dream of eternal summer

The wife of the American airline clicks her tongue when checking in in Frankfurt am Main: “Ah - we're going to paradise!” At some point, an image campaign for Hawaii must have done a great job. Because on the way to the youngest US state, which joined the federation 50 years ago as the 50th member, the saying is repeated at the passport control during the stopover in San Francisco. If Hawaii has ever been paradise, the archipelago with 137 islands has long since lost its innocence. However, this did not detract from the attraction to tourists with dreams of high waves and eternal summer. On the contrary.

The next morning on Waikiki Beach. In front of the less than paradisiacal skyline of the architecturally unimaginative twin castles of Honolulu, things get straight to the point: an oversized beginner's surfboard under your feet and on the neck Kai, the Hawaiian teacher of the Hans Hedemann Surfschool: “Come on paddle as long as you can! Faster, don't let up! Yes, kneel down - and get up now! calls he. And corrects the student: "No - the feet across the board !!" He praises the stamina and then sighs: "Oh, oh my god ..."

The ride takes just under five seconds, then it's over for the time being with the glory of the surf beginner. Nevertheless, the hero is proud, especially because he was able to avoid cutting his skin on the sharp underwater rocks. Five seconds, hey, not bad. The jetlag is blown away, the 24-hour journey forgotten, Honolulu's architectural and aesthetic impositions are ticked off.

A good 30 years ago, Hawaii was synonymous with Waikiki Beach for 85 percent of all tourists. That has changed significantly. The Big Island and Maui in particular have established themselves as independent destinations - and 68 years after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor (December 7, 1941), Honolulu and the island of Oahu are fairly firmly in the grip of the sons and daughters of Nippon.

At the leading hotel on the island, the Mandarin Oriental in the quiet suburb of Kahala, Japanese-born Hawaiians say yes almost every hour on the hotel's own beach. In quaint Haleiwa, almost exclusively Japanese people queue to grab a portion of grated ice cream with flavored coloring. And in the Polynesian Cultural Center, Japanese tour groups can be explained by interpreters what the entertainers have to say about climbing coconut trees or playing a nose flute. The neighboring Waimea Falls Park, however, the largest botanical garden on the island, hardly attracts a Japanese person despite the overflowing exotic flora and bathing pond at a waterfall.

The tiny island of Lanai is rather unique in the archipelago. It has a deterrent effect on night owls or people interested in sights alone. The former largest pineapple plantation in the world - like almost all of Lanai owned by the Dole Pineapple Company - now lives almost 100 percent from tourism, but it is mainly divided between two hotels, both managed by the Canadian Four Seasons group. The country-style Lodge at Koele attracts golfers, hunters and clay pigeon shooters in particular. And the Manele Bay rather the beach-oriented visitor. The 236-room house became world-famous when Bill Gates celebrated his wedding here and rented the entire island and all of the charter boats in the area.

However, Maui has seen the strongest tourist boom in the recent past. On the west coast between Kihei and Waimea there is luxury hotel after luxury hotel. Above all, the Four Seasons and the Grand Wailea Resort, with their own, but as usual in Hawaii, freely accessible beaches, with a drink service at the bathing loungers and hundreds of rooms. The former whaling town of Lahaina has also turned into a year-round tourist magnet.

But thank God there is also Hana on Maui. The tiny town on the southeast coast at the foot of the mighty Haleakala crater has retained its old Hawaiian charm. Only accessible via gravel roads or the winding “Road to Hana” (80 kilometers with 54 single-lane bridges), there are only a few individualists here besides day tourists. Most famous resident: talk show superstar Oprah Winfrey. She buys one hectare at a time for her personal hideaway at the end of the American world. Most of the others stay in the Hotel Hana Maui, which is unusually spacious by Hawaiian standards.

Originally, the corrugated iron-roofed houses were the home of mostly European foremen of a sugar cane plantation. Little by little, however, the colorful friends and acquaintances of the plantation owner felt at home here. To put an end to Nassauern, the cottages, including the ocean surf, are now only available for hard US dollars. The existence of a tiny courthouse with three tiny, windowless prison cells proves that this unspoilt place only almost deserves the name paradise. However, they should rarely be occupied.

All of Hana, it seems, meets during the day on the black sand beach of Hamoa and watches the breakneck surfers between the seemingly threatening rocks. The evenings are spent listening to live music with delicious poké (marinated tuna with onions) and POG, (pineapple-orange-guava juice), a healthy cocktail. Of course there is also harder material. Incidentally, the predominantly local clientele almost always includes a couple of robust cowboys. Because Maui beef has long since replaced sugar cane, which is no longer profitable.

The grandest of all US ranches is by no means in Texas, but befittingly on Big Island, as the largest island in the archipelago is also called. The Parker Ranch in the tranquil Waimea extends over around 900 square kilometers in the cool north of the island and is therefore somewhat larger in area than Berlin. There is good grass - for 60,000 cattle. And considerable hideaways for the educated staff of the nearby volcano observatory as well as Hawaiian fans like Clint Eastwood, who has owned a beach villa in neighboring Puako for a long time. You don't see drunkards, stranded people and beggars like in the main town of Kailua here. But the place has the best restaurants on the island (Merriman’s and Daniel Thiebaut’s) and a quirky-lovable local museum.

A German knows some of the highlights of the Big Island - Thorsten Andresen. He and his wife have found their personal paradise here. And since they have to cope with American conditions, a single job is not enough. Today, the New Hawaiian is a knowledgeable tourist guide and, on an hourly basis, manager of one of Kona's coffee plantations. From him you learn what can make this supposed paradise hell: the Coqui frog. The animals, which were once introduced from Puerto Rico, are only tiny, but just as fertile as they are powerfully voiced. When they get in a romantic mood, they make more noise than a busy highway. And why does Andresen see Hawaii as his personal place of bliss in spite of all adversities? The answer is somehow German: “Suffering is easier here!

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