Planning a trip to Hawaii can be an overwhelming experience. What should you pack other than your bathing suit? That’s where Go Visit Hawaii comes into play. Sheila Beal has been offering would be travelers to Hawaii advise since 2006. In 2009, Lonely Planet named Go Visit Hawaii the Best Destination Travel Blog. Exploration: Hawaii was fortunate to have had a chance to chat a little bit with Sheila to find out why she loves Hawaii so much.
EH: Both you and your husband Andy visit Hawaii often, but you folks don’t live here. What is it about Hawaii that the two of you love the most?
Sheila: We love all the adventures Hawaii has to offer — from amazing hikes with rewarding views to discovering the ocean life by snorkeling to learning about Hawaiian history and culture.
EH: What is the most memorable experience you’ve had in the islands?
Sheila: Oh boy, that’s a very tough question. So many amazing experiences come to mind, but as I’ve paused to ponder your question, one finally stood out — seeing lava flow into the ocean on Hawaii Island. I must have said wow a hundred times as I marveled at the luminous orange lava pouring down the pali and into the ocean to create a plume of steamy smoke.
EH: Sheila, you’re a self-described adventurous chicken. What’s the most adventurous thing you’ve done on the islands?
Sheila: Ziplining at Princeville Ranch on Kauai took me very far outside of my comfort zone. I was the last to go in our group for the first few zips. I had to pray and work really hard to get my nerve up. Towards the final zips I was having fun and getting in line without much trepidation.
Another adventure that comes to mind is taking the mule ride down a cliff to Kalaupapa on Molokai. The zigzagging cliff path consists of 26 switchbacks to 1800-feet descent. The mules have to take the switchbacks much wider than a person would need to do by foot. The mule and I were literally inches away from the cliff edge at many of the switchbacks. I gripped the saddle like my life depended on it.
Finally, the most fun adventure was driving UTVs on Lanai’s Munro Trail. The UTVs are a blast to drive on a dirt path, while the trail provided amazing views of Lanai, Molokai and Maui.
EH: Which is your favorite Hawaiian island and why?
Sheila: Each island is special with its own personality and beauty. We love them all. Maui will always be our first love as it was the first Hawaiian Island we visited. Kauai was next and we fell in love with the scenery and hikes there. Then, we visited Hawaii, the Big Island where we loved the diversity of climates and terrains. Each trip to Oahu leaves us realizing that we have so much left there to discover. Lanai is our favorite island for relaxation and rejuvenation. Finally, Molokai offers great off-the-beaten-path experiences. They’re all good!
EH: When visiting the islands, where is your favorite place to eat and what’s your favorite dish?
Sheila: Hawaii’s cuisine is so ‘ono and many restaurants offer views just as delicious as the food. We love the fresh fish and the farm-to-table movement that’s gained so much strength in Hawaii in recent years. Just give us some poke, macadamia-crusted fish and an ocean view anywhere in Hawaii and we’re happy.
EH: If you could offer one piece of advice for the first time visitor to Hawaii, what would it be?
Sheila: I would advise folks to appreciate the local culture. Though Hawaii has lots of mainland infrastructure, the culture is very different. Hawaii is much more laid back. So, it’s best to choose a relaxed attitude the moment you step off the plane because things are going to move on “island time” whether you want them to or not. :- ) Visitors should seek and adopt the Aloha Spirit by being friendly and grateful for these beautiful islands and the people of Hawaii who share them with us.
All photos above courtesy of Go Visit Hawaii (visit their Flickr). Exploration: Hawaii would like to thank Sheila Beal of Go Visit Hawaii for stopping by to chat. When planning your next trip to Hawaii, be sure to check out Go Visit Hawaii!