George Applegate, Aloha Ambassador, on Great Outdoor Adventures

Dawna L. Robertson george Applegate is a soft-spoken man whose message rings loud and clear. When it comes to discovering Hawaii’s natural side, it’s hard to beat roughing it under the stars especially on Hawaii’s Big Island. And he should know. The executive director of the Hawaii Visitors & Convent

By: Dawna L. Robertson

george Applegate is a soft-spoken man whose message rings loud and clear. When it comes to discovering Hawaii’s natural side, it’s hard to beat roughing it under the stars especially on Hawaii’s Big Island. And he should know. The executive director of the Hawaii Visitors & Convention Bureau’s Big Island Chapter was born and raised on the island he has so eloquently promoted since hopping into the hospitality industry as a bellman in 1968.

Anyone fortunate enough to meet Applegate immediately senses his genuine spirit of aloha and love for the Hawaiian Islands. Joining the Bureau as director of sales and marketing in 1989, Applegate has served as its executive director since 2000. In his tenure, he’s traveled throughout North America, Europe and Asia. Yet, Applegate has been happiest spending time in his own backyard often, literally.

“Growing up, my family had sugarcane land we worked every other summer with the plantation workers,” said Applegate. “It was tough work, so we didn’t get to go camping or fishing much. I really started going more when my son Paul was born.”

In the beginning, Applegate’s outings were limited.

“It was really about being outside,” he said. “So we’d camp out on the roof and look at the stars or pitch a tent in the backyard if it was raining. We learned a lot about nature and about our Big Island home.”

Even on the road, treks remained very basic.

“For us, camping was as simple as fishing and sleeping out under the stars. We’d always tie fishing in with camping,” he said.

Outings were often shared with other fathers and sons.

“In those days, we’d camp along the Kohala Coast or dive off the Hilo break wall. You can’t go just anywhere like you used to,” he said.

But he adds that there are still many wonderful parks to experience across the Islands.

This casual approach to camping became a tradition Applegate’s son now shares with his children.

“Paul’s a policeman on Kauai now,” he said. “What Paul learned back then, he’s now passing on to his kids like I did with him.”

These days, Applegate enjoys loading up his four-wheel-drive and heading to places like Mauna Kea for stargazing or to the beach to enjoy the sounds of the surf and breezes flowing through the trees.

“No cell phones. It just takes me back to a time when things were more simple. I find a sense of peace and find myself feeling really grateful,” he said.

Naturally, Applegate’s preference is camping with Paul and his family on Kauai.

“I love beautiful Kauai,” he said. “It’s still very local and people stick together. My son lives in Waimea, so we go around there.”

In the late 1960s, Applegate was a tour guide with Berry World Travel.

“I spent a lot of time on Maui because we brought charter flights,” he said. “Back then, Kaanapali only had the Kaanapali Beach Hotel, Sheraton and Royal Lahaina. So it was pretty empty with lots of sand and not much else. We’d night dive and camp right there.”

Most recently, Applegate set up camp at the Big Island’s South Point with a group of 100 fathers and sons.

“It was such good clean fun,” he said. “We fished all night and slept all day. Some of us threw net. It was a very special time where we were really in touch with nature.”

RESORCES

Hawaii State Parks with campsites and shore fishing:
www.hawaii.giv/dlnr/dsp

Big Island
MacKenzie State Recreation Area
13.1 isolated acres, with old Hawaiian coastal trails and cultural sites.
808-974-6200

Kauai
Polihale State Park
138 acres of wild coastline with large sand beach backed by dunes. Scenic views of Na Pali Coast.
808-274-3444

Maui
Waianapanapa State Park
122.1-acre park in forested volcanic coastal setting, with black-sand beach and ancient coastal trail to Hana. Cabins also available.
808-984-8109

Oahu
Friends of Malaekahana (State Park)
37-acre gated campground on one of Oahu’s most beautiful beaches.
808-293-1736

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