KA’ANAPALI, Maui, Hawai’i — They call this third island of Hawai’i — after O’ahu with its 5-0 Honolulu and after the Big Island with its spewing lava — paradise.
“Paradise is a strong word, and I don’t use it lightly,” boasted Paradise Found In Maui, an internet web site. “But Maui, Hawaii is truly a paradise in every way.” Cited are year-round balmy weather, tropical scenery and the beaches’ constant song of the surf.
OK, let’s compare. How does this Pacific Paradise stack up with the hometown?
Gallon of milk and gas, loaf of bread
Maui: milk $4.88, gas $4.09, bread $1.89.
Elkin: milk $2.99, gas $2.53, bread $1.29.
Maui: Daybreak comes about an hour earlier here. Sunrise is pretty over the volcanic mountain. You can almost get run over on the composite-deck-board beach walk by all of the joggers – stern-faced young people determined to be fit even if it kills them.
Elkin: I stroll along the road. Folks I know and folks I don’t head to work or school and throw up their hands as they cruise past. I take the quiet trail to Carter Falls as sunlight beams in shafts in the forest. I sit by the falls and reflect and pray in the solitude.
Maui: macadamia nut pancakes with white, coconut syrup.
Elkin: biscuits and gravy.
Maui: Now I know what it would be like if I ever fall into an aquarium and have to swim awhile. Snorkeling, the island pastime, is a neat trick, swimming with your head under water and breathing with a plastic tube. (rental: $25/week. Worth it.) But the fish won’t let you pet them, and I feared the huge, monster sea turtles might bite.
Elkin: I sit on the natural stone bench near the bottom of Carter Falls that’s in the channel of Big Elkin Creek. The cool, refreshing water cascades over my shoulders and massages my tired muscles. The sound of the whitewater is strong, vibrant, a display of the power of nature.
Maui: 80 degrees, breezy and stultifying sameness. Day after day. “It gets old,” a transplanted North Carolinian told me.
Elkin: Warm and relaxing summer days, crisp autumn mornings, a touch of snow in winter, spring greenery.
Hot, hot, hot
Hawaii: A raging volcano spewing 2,000-degree lava.
Elkin: Dog days of summer.
Advantage: A toss up.
The big one
Maui: 7-story waves for surfers at Pe’ahi Beach, aka Jaws.
Elkin: 80-story Stone Mountain for hikers.
Maui: Haleakala National Park, atop an old volcano more than 10,000 feet high and famous for glorious sunrises above the clouds, reservations required.
Elkin: The Highway 21 overlook on the way to Roaring Gap where young people used to neck at night.
Advantage: OK, Maui wins this one.
Maui: $100 fish dinners featuring fresh catches of the day at Momma’s Fish House.
Elkin: The fried platters at Pirates Landing
Advantage: Unknown. Didn’t go to Momma’s. I not paying $100 for a plate of fish!
Maui: Walmart, Target, Lowe’s, Home Depot
Elkin: Walmart, Lowe’s, Belk
Advantage: For loose-fitting shirts with flower prints and tight-fitting bikinis that run up the rear end, it’s Maui. For everything else, Elkin.
Maui: $100+ luaus for tourists that include loud Polynesian drums that give me a headache.
Elkin: $20 acoustic-music shows at Reeves Theater.
Maui: For $65, ride around a pineapple farm for 90 minutes, get one complimentary Maui Gold pineapple. (Those are good.)
Elkin: Sit on my porch for free and watch Farmer Snow 25 feet away plant corn for a change this year instead of tobacco or soybeans. Good eating for me soon.
As you can see, we have a winner. And there can be no doubt. I have found paradise, and it’s right Here in the Hometown. Happy to be coming home.
Stephen Harris returned home to live in State Road.