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Over the past week, I fully embraced the persona of a tourist. With this being my first trip to Maui, I was especially excited to see how it compared to Kauai and the Big Island–the only other Hawaiian islands I’ve visited.
Tourists notice even the smallest of details, often some of the very things overlooked at home. The sunrise, the sunset, the gentle breeze, and other living things–like the little orange-faced House Finches that greeted me each morning on the balcony while I enjoyed my coffee overlooking the ocean.
But some of the sights were certainly unique.
Enormous Humpback whales emerged from the ocean and then vanished beneath the surface just as quickly. To give you some perspective, a single adult whale weighs about 70,000 pounds–roughly the equivalent of 58 African Bush elephants. Big, to say the least. It’s hard not to notice them when crowds of people gather at the shore, pointing toward the giant plumes of water spraying upward. And while luaus are not all that common on the mainland, they are a popular tourist destination for beachgoers who enjoy being entertained while learning about the island’s rich history and culture.
But traveling isn’t simply about moving from one place to another; it’s about taking in the intricate details of a place. Experiencing it fully. In that sense, being a tourist requires nothing more than a relaxed state of mind and a keen sense of curiosity. And honestly, you don’t even have to leave your backyard to do it. Observing your own familiar surroundings as if you were a visitor can create a similar experience. (Plus it’s free.)