Olowalu, March 1, 2012 3:00 PM HST
One of the things about Hawai’i that always catches me off guard is the fine grain of diversity here. You can be driving through a cloud forest and 3 minutes later you are in a brown desert. Or a red desert or a golf course farm. The same is true of the culture. One minute you are in a community of condos, the next in run down shacks. Not that the folks in the run down shacks are any less happy or interesting than golfers in plaid pants, mind you.
The stretch of road between the Ma’alaea Harbor and Lahaina captures a lot of this. There are tended beach parks along the way and there are stretches of beach in between that are untended and trees grow over some of the beach. The latter are often occupied by people who are squatting there for the long term. Periodically the authorities come around and kick them all out, but they return. Both types of beaches are used by tourists and natives alike and while the difference is generally pretty apparent, they coexist amiably for the most part.
There is a dot of a town on this road, Olowalu (“many hills”), that captures this fine grain diversity. There is the Olowalu General Store and the Olowalu Juice Stand. And that’s it for business. Taking a turn toward the ocean in Olowalu leads you within yards to a gated private home, but a dirt track to the left leads around the private property to the sea. There is a parking lot and a short walk to the edge. Turning right leads to a mown lawn, part of which is private and part public, and a jetty.
Some other interesting features of the place were the skeleton of a building of some kind, possibly an ammunition bunker, and the huge stump of a tree that must have been cut down 50 years ago.