So I've just returned to New York City from Hawaii. Specifically, from the island of Oahu. My special lady and I just celebrated 5 years together, and we figured it was a good time to do something big, something a little more exciting than just dinner.
It was a fantastic time. There is just so much to do, to see, to experience. We spent a week there but really, you could spend a month and still be left wanting. From the ocean, as blue as blue gets, to the mountains, as rugged as they come, Hawaii invites you to explore.
Being from New York, I don't drive. I don't even have a license, so I couldn't even if I wanted to. In the city, this is never a problem. I'm never limited by my lack of vehicular transportation. If anything, it makes it easier to get around, because I'm not worried about gas, or parking, or etc. etc. However, pretty much everywhere else, this is a major issue. There are very few walking cities in the US, from what I can gather.
Oahu made it difficult.
Still, though, with the doggedness that an NYC ubringing instills in a person, we did not back down from the challenge that was getting around the Hawaiian island. The public transit service is accurately called "The Bus" and it's pretty easy to get into the use of. It's actually tied into google maps, so you can get (mostly) accurate times and schedules for the various routes.
Armed with bus passes, we took the island on, travelling at our leisure to and from sites like Pearl Harbor, the Polynesian Cultural Center, and Aloha Stadium.
Not being a driver, I can't speak to the experience of driving around Oahu as a means of soaking in the environment of the island. What Ican say, though, is that doing it on the bus is incredible.
The thing about public transit, anywhere you go, is that it is the lowest common denominator. You have all types of people travelling around using the bus, or the train, or trams, or whatever your home town uses. From tourists to locals, from wealthy to poor (maybe not so many wealthy people though)
So you get a least a taste of what the locals are like, and more than that, because the public transit system has to do it's best to cater to everyone, even those off the beaten path, you get to see a lot more than you would if you were to drive.
Driving yourself, you'd be able to take the highway, shave 45 minutes or more off the same trip for the bus. Yet, you would only see half the stuff, if that. You'd be focused on the road, so a whole lot would just slip by you.
This is the virtue of the New York state of mind. It forces you to do things differently. It gives you the opportunity to see the things others won't.