If there is one place you have to visit before you die, I recommend the Heaven on Earth that is Kauai, Hawaii. I was in a place where I was almost unable to suppress the thoughts going through my head, the mania of the concrete jungle and the stress of the rat race. It had gotten to the point where I was almost overrun with anxiety and the deluge of random, silly listlessness that left me emotionally and physically drained. That is, until the garden isle.
I went there on my honeymoon, so of course there are peripheral circumstances but I did not expect to fall in love with an island. It wasn’t the ridiculous beauty, the mesmerizing water, or constant 82 degree weather that did it for me (although that certainly helped). What stole my heart was its prevailing calm.
Kauai is far, far away and geologically the oldest and northernmost island of Hawaii. The secret to its serenity, I think, lies in its lush vegetation. Being a New Yorker with serious nature withdrawal, the surrounding nature is just so impressive and just so pristine. They say that cleanliness is next to godliness, and so I agree.
There are two breathtaking tourist must-see destinations there: The Waimea Canyon State Park and the Na Pali coast. Mark Twain dubbed the canyon as the Grand Canyon of the Pacific, or so the tour guide said. It’s mind-blowing; the vastness of it, and the multitude of colors within it are bewildering. Remember those little bottles with various colors of sand? Now take that, and spread it across 10 miles with pockets 3,000 feet deep. Impressed? Now add a glistening ocean in the far distance and imagine that again. Pretty sweet!
The Na Pali coast, on the Northwest part of Kauai, features virgin beaches surrounded by huge majestic cliffs that drop straight off into the water. You can only access the coast by navigating the surrounding waters or hiking to the location for several days. I would recommend the water because it’s a bumpy, but awesomely wet ride, and you get to hang out with the spinner dolphins and the sea turtles that are abundant there. The most I see in New York is a few rattled squirrels, pigeons and rats.
In Kauai, there are chickens everywhere. During a severe hurricane in 1992, the personal chicken pens of Kauai residents opened, releasing the chickens into the wild. Twenty years later, they are in fact abundant, wild and widely distributed. However, they do not bite, they don’t cause havoc and they don’t pollute – they must be the best chickens anywhere and they certainly add to the islands charm.
Another aspect of Kauai that I greatly valued was my anonymity. I didn’t know anyone and it was great! Being so far from the familiar is a breath of fresh air, both metaphorically and physically. I was free to grow and become someone else, someone new or someone better. It is not about becoming someone different but when people know you to be ”that” person, change is harder of who they expect you to be. It’s amazing how much people’s expectations of you can be a burden.
Leaving my technology at home further helped me stop my mind and embrace the surroundings: watch the water for hours, lay on the beach without twitching and getting out of my technology loop. I walked on mountains, swam in the ocean, slept in the shade of botanical gardens and forgot about New York (aka, I forgot about my problems). I finally stopped thinking.
My advice to everyone is to let go. Find a place that makes you feel rejuvenated, happy and excited to be alive and free. Visit Kauai and breathe deeply, sleep soundly and live fully because if you are not truly living, there is no reason for you to be here.
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