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Blog – Living in Paradise Islands

What happens in Hawaii stays in your Heart forever! Melissa McCoy living in Hawaii for 43 years!

What does it mean to live in Hawaii for 43 years?

Living in Hawaii for 43 years would mean different things to different people!  I have been more than fortunate to spend most of the those years being involved in the visitor industry AKA tourism!   Being a waitress does not sound like much of a tourism job but it was my first exposure to the lovely happy people who  visit Hawaii.  I’ve always enjoyed talking to people so I learned about their experiences which was my first peek into a world that would become a huge part of my life.  So, at 19 years old we lived in a 1961 Volkswagen camper and each day I would go to work (after a cold shower at Kamaole Beach Park 1 :) at the Ocean Terrace (now 5 Palms) restaurant at the Mana Kai resort in Kihei, Maui.

As a hostess at a fine dining restaurant  (Raffles) at the ‘then’ Westin Wailea I came face to face with some of the finer aspects of the visitor industry.  Back in those days the Westin Wailea was one of only two resorts in Wailea.   When I took a job in Lahaina as Assistant to the owners of a large boat company (Seabird Cruises) that took guests to the islands of Lanai & Molokai and Whale Watch tours in season I was really starting to get hooked on all the fun that visitors were having when visiting our islands.

And then ‘it’ happened.  I moved to Kauai and helped set up a new boat company offering ‘then’ unheard of services for the small island of Kauai. Sunset Dinner cruises and whale watching had never been offered on the Garden Island before.  Our 65′ catamaran was a whole new phenomena.  I was the cook, salesperson, bookkeeper, bartender and waitress.  I had an ‘ah ha’ moment and it was only weeks before  I opened a tiny little activities & tour kiosk in Koloa in 1985 and away I went.   Aloha Activities later changed to Aloha Destinations.  It was ‘my’ first business which started in 1985.

The business would have been a flop if the owner of the small Koloa Town did not ask me if they could move my business directly on the road.   During this time the main airline flying to Hawaii was United Airlines and they went on strike!  Holy macaroni!  Bob Gerrell saved the day, built the kiosk and put me smack dab on the corner of the busiest intersection in all of south Kauai.  One thing led to another, Onomana cruises was sold to a company on Oahu and I needed to find charter boats to service small incentive groups from the mainland that we already had booked. Thus the birth of Destination Kauai.  Closely there after Kauai 800 “Kauai at your Fingertips”.  It’s hard to believe that there was no internet back in those days.  It cost a fortune to call interisland and to the mainland.

I toured the mainland with Hawaiian & United airlines as part of the Hawaii Visitor’s Bureau marketing efforts.  We had functions and trade shows for travel agents all across the continental USA.   I started thinking about starting a Travel Agency.  Those travel agents were having way too much fun!   I kept a ‘dream box’ with photos I would cut out of places I wanted to travel.

Then I moved back to Maui in 1989 and started an Activities Desk and snorkel gear rental shop (Auntie Snorkel).  We started a Kayak Shop/Tours (South Pacific Kayaks).   And then during ‘one’ particular week in October 1993 I opened McCoy Travel and a second snorkel shop in Honokawai (1 hour away from everything else we were doing).   I remember having McCoy Travel’s phone forwarded to the phone at the new snorkel shop.  This was before cell phones in 1993 (for the most part).  Since then the  activities desk/gear rental shops on Kauai and Maui were sold and the snorkel shop in Honokawai and South Pacific Kayaks were also sold.

Now McCoy Luxury Vacations provides personalized assistance for custom vacation to Hawaii, Fiji, Tahiti, Mexico and beyond.  Our focus in Family, Luxury & Romance.

My journey is very different than most people that have lived in these islands for such a long time.  Most people wind up leaving but there are LOTS of us who are still here and can’t imagine living anywhere else in the world.   I’m an ‘upcountry’ dweller at 3,200 feet in Kula on the slopes of Haleakala.  I love the temperate weather, greenery and spectacular views.  Others love living by the beach.   I love going to the beach :)

I’m privileged to be part of assisting all of our lovely clients with their travels to wonderful destinations.  We have some amazing clients.

Warm & Sunny Alohas




“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.  So throw off the bow lines.  Sail away from the safe harbor.  Catch the trade winds in your sails!” -Mark Twain

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