Even if you haven’t read Mark Twain’s Letters from Hawaii (University of Hawaii Press) or Mark Twain in Hawaii: Roughing It In the Sandwich Islands (Mutual Publishing), you will enjoy this article about finding the real Hawai‘i.
Unlike Jack London, who was only passing through, and James Michener, who wrote too much and fictionalized most of it, Mark Twain spent four months in the Islands and gave a first-hand account of what he saw, from the sparsely clad kanaka maoli to the red glow of Kilauea. He stayed in the Volcano House hotel, which is still in business today, even though the original structure has been replaced. He rode horseback, determined not to miss a single detail, and paid for his tenacity with saddle sores.
But don’t let me spoil the fun. Read what Hawai‘i’s native son, Lawrence Downes, has to say about it: