Hawaii has plenty of free attractions
Editors at Tripadvisor, an online travel site, rated Waimea Canyon on Kauai as one of the Top 10 free attractions in the country. While the recognition is nice, I'm not sure if Waimea Canyon is even one of the top free attractions in Hawaii. I mean, have you ever watched Mayor Mufi Hannemann sing "Mack the Knife" in a karaoke bar? Now THAT'S an attraction. And it's free.
I kid the mayor. While I've never seen him sing in a bar, I have seen him sing in public and he's pretty darn good. And he doesn't charge.
I'm not dumping on Waimea Canyon. I've been there several times, and it is beautiful for a moderately small canyon. But as far as being one of the Top 10 free attractions in the entire country, well, there's that little cut in the earth called, modestly, the Grand Canyon. Parts of the Grand Canyon cost money to visit, but there are free hiking and viewing areas.
If you are talking about great, free attractions, I doubt you could do better nationally than watching a Big Island volcano spew lava, wipe out housing developments and pour into the sea. While you do have to pay to get into the national park itself, there are places where you can see the volcano for free. But Kilauea didn't even make Tripadvisor's list. Adding even more insult is what was named the No. 1 free attraction: the Bellagio Fountains in Las Vegas. Are you kidding me? A glorified lawn sprinkler spritzing water in cutesy patterns versus Madame Pele spewing molten, fiery rock into the night sky?
I don't disagree with the No. 6 choice: the USS Arizona Memorial. There is no doubt that few free attractions anywhere in the world can compare to the emotionally moving experience of visiting the Arizona Memorial.
And it's nice that two out of the 10 selections were from Hawaii.
But how could they include California's Pacific Coast Highway on the list and ignore the road to Hana? And how could they include the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco and leave out Haleiwa Bridge? Sure, the Golden Gate is bigger, but people actually jump off the Haleiwa Bridge all the time ... AND LIVE.
In Tripadvisor's defense, I have to point out that the editors made their choices based on recommendations by travelers who visit their site. And I doubt few of them have even crossed the Haleiwa Bridge, let alone jumped off of it. And a lot more people have driven on the Pacific Coast Highway, visited Arlington National Cemetery, gawked at the Golden Gate Bride and visited New York's Central Park than have watched lava flow into the sea on the Big Island.
So, I guess, considering those numbers, it's pretty amazing that a moderately small canyon in Hawaii made the Top 10 at all.
What are Hawaii's Top 10 Free Attractions? Send me your suggestions, and I'll put together a list that will appear in this space soon. And Mufi ... don't go and try to stuff the ballot box.
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