Monday, February 27, 2012

Maui vs. Oahu - Comparing the Two


Rainy day on Oahu, the day we scattered ashes. 


Just got back to Maui a couple of days ago, after being on Oahu to take care of my mom's apartment, distribute her turtle collection to friends and family, scatter her ashes, and visit people. I thought I would do a few posts while I was there, but frankly was just wiped out.

It's a relief to be back on Maui. Both islands are wonderful, but they are very different.

Some key points:

- Oahu seems to have a bigger middle class and working class than Maui. Maui has a lot of hippies and new age people, and more haoles (Hawaiian for Caucasians) than Oahu. Oahu also has a strong military presence. It seems that a third of the island is military, so you'll see people running around in uniform, and there are a lot of military bases there.  Maui has mostly two classes, super wealthy and super poor, with a much smaller middle class. 

- Maui people seem more flighty and airy-fairy than Oahu people. Maui people seem to be even more laid back than Oahu folks, and are less likely to commit to things/people/events but will often show up at the last minute. I'm amazed that the Source Maui crowd had enough organization to pull off their event for several years, and it definitely has a "Maui feel." A lot of Maui people have multiple names, like their birth name, and then another name, like "Rainbow Sunset" or "Hippie-ananda." I'm making these names up, so if your name is "Rainbow Sunset," it wasn't deliberate. 

- Both islands have a lot of Christians, churches, and people who want to convert you. The town I grew up in on Oahu has a church on every block, practically. Even though Hawaii as a state seems to be fairly liberal, there is a conservatism that runs deep, kind of like the South's Bible Belt. On the other hand, there is also an amazing acceptance for differences, including gay marriage and other lifestyles. 

- Oahu has tons of traffic. It has gotten considerably worse in the last few years, and I could not believe how much traffic there was going up to the North Shore to scatter mom's ashes. Even the exit ramp had a long line up of cars, and this never used to be the case when I grew up. Of course, if Maui doesn't plan intelligently, the same traffic snarl will happen here too. Since Oahu is more populous and urban, there are also a lot more things to do. Nightlife on Maui? What's that? (Ok, there are a couple of places, and more are sprouting up...)

- Both islands have a considerable local population of people who grew up here (as opposed to transplants), although Oahu's is much larger. Maui's local population seems to be less overt, although if you go to the Maui (County) Fair, it's almost all locals. Both islands also have a large transient population, with people who stay for a few months or a couple of years, and then move. 

- Oahu is more urban than Maui, but there are still places, even in Honolulu, that are amazingly rural. The place where we stayed, in Makiki Heights, was very rural with lots of wild chickens running around. The group of roosters crowed at midnight, 3 am, 4 am, 5 am, 6 am, 7 am, and 8 am, with more random crows throughout the day. You just have to know where to go. 

- Oh, one more thing: For dating, Oahu is better. There are more people, which also means more single people. I would tell any single man from Maui who is seeking a relationship to spend some time in Waikiki. For single women, Honolulu is a social hub.  Maui has a well-deserved reputation for having a "shallow dating pool." Maui is a great place for supporting an existing relationship, while Oahu has more "temptations to stray." 

Generally, Maui people, especially transplants, tend to think of Maui as the better place to live. But after living a year on Kauai, discovered that Kauai people think that Kauai is far superior to Maui!  A lot of Kauai folks used to live on Maui.  

- Another thought (this list keeps getting longer): The impact of tourists on Oahu is largely in Waikiki... and there are many places on Oahu where tourists are not a significant part of the population. One can easily live on Oahu and not bump into any tourists for days or weeks or even months unless one's job involves tourists or being in Waikiki. On Maui, there are tourists everywhere... it seems that 5 out of 10 (or more) random people in a restaurant or shopping are tourists. I ended up commenting on this below, but I suspect a lot of Maui locals (people born and raised here) really want to protect their local traditions and institutions. 

Anyhow, I love both Oahu and Maui, but the next trip to Oahu will be a trip for fun, not for business. 

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