To Hawaii With Aloha

Dear Hawaii,

I’ve been thinking a lot about how to introduce you on my blog. I’ve only been away from you for a week but I still feel fireworks when I think of you. I want my readers to know — I want the world to know — all the ways in which you are a magical place, all the ways in which you surprised me, all the ways in which you blew my mind.

So I decided to write you this love letter.


I know people will think it’s just hyperbole if I say it was all shaved ice and double rainbows, all shakas and surf breaks all the time — but can we help it if we are just a match made in heaven? Okay, we had one bad day out of forty. One bad day in six weeks across five islands has to be some kind of record, I think.

I admit, we kind of got off to a rough start as well, what with me almost missing my flight and all. That was a pretty dramatic story, it’s true. But all the stress of the man having a heart attack on the Airtran, and my subsequent 9:20am arrival at JFK for a 10:00am flight, and the airline representatives escorting me through security, and the mad sprints through the gates, and my sweaty arrival as the very last person in the door of the aircraft — all that stress just melted away the moment I breathed that Oahu air and Wim greeted me at baggage, lei in hand.

Hawaiian Airlines

We drove right to her house and I remember thinking, this is what the suburbs look like in paradise. And she laughed when I took pictures of everything, from the houses to the license plates to the clouds — but I really did feel like I was in a foreign land, despite never having my passport stamped. Isn’t that weird, Hawaii, how I can get in a plane in New York, fly for eleven hours to reach you, and still be in the same country?

Hawaii Suburb

We didn’t stay long at Wim’s house, because I was about to learn the first lesson of Hawaii — life is lived outdoors. So an hour after landing I was winding around beautiful curving roads, taking photos of stunning beaches, and hiking to a picturesque coastal lighthouse. I thought, well, day one and this is it — how can it get any better?

Little did I know what was to come — the adventures and discoveries and happiness that lay ahead of me. I didn’t know yet how orange the bubbling lava would be from a helicopter on the Big Island, or how my legs would burn after a twelve-mile hike through a crater on Maui, or how sweet the island reggae music would sound, as I sang along while driving across the Kaua’i coast with the windows down.

I didn’t realize how deep your culture runs, how strong your artistic community is, how proud and diverse your inhabitants are, how intense and varied your beautiful landscape can really be. I didn’t know that there was so much more to you than grass skirts and ukuleles — though I do admit that ukulele sound really did grow on me.

I didn’t know yet how my eyes would well in my mask as manta rays soared over me on a night dive, how my face would hurt from smiling at relearning the joys of solo travel, how salty the air would taste running alongside the ocean in the mornings, how blissful it feels to be in the exact right place at the perfectly right time.

Hawaii Blog

Hawaii Blog Post

How lucky I feel to have had family and friends on each of these islands to host me and show me how locals live. How thankful I am to Wim and Dave for hosting me in Oahu, to Warren and Claire for taking me in on the Big Island, and to Heather for being my travel buddy. How grateful I am to my Uncle Mark and Aunt Linda for having me in Maui, and to the Banana Bungalow Hostel for making me feel like ohana for the rest of my stay there, and to Kyle for taking me to Lanai, and to Angie and Alex for inviting me to Kaua’i. How happy I am to have met so many wonderful new friends along the way, the kind of new friends who instantly felt like old ones.

I don’t think I can ever thank them enough for bringing me to a place that gave me so much joy. Hawaii, thank you for reminding me to live with aloha. Thank you for reminding me to be grateful for all the moments of bliss life has to offer. Thank you for reminding me that nothing makes me feel more alive than exploring a new place, than living actively and spontaneously, than traveling. Hawaii, I was coming out of a dark time when we met. Thank you for bringing me back to life.

“If you’re a truly lucky traveler, you won’t be the same person when you get home.” -Patrick Bredehoft

Hawaii Blog Post

With So Much Aloha,


38 Responses to “To Hawaii With Aloha”

  1. Jade says:

    That was the perfect way to introduce hawaii, cannot wait for more!

  2. Ayngelina says:

    I only went to Maui County but I adore Hawaii as well and want to go back to see the other islands.
    Ayngelina recently posted..Yellowstone Park is dangerous

  3. I’m excited to hear more about your trip!
    Emily in Chile recently posted..The casa particular: where to stay in Cuba

  4. I’ve only been to Oahu, but loved it as well. Can’t wait to get back one day!
    Raymond @ Man On The Lam recently posted..5 Quirky Things to Do in Cancun, Mexico

  5. Erica says:

    One day I will make it that way!
    Erica recently posted..Cava and Coves in Costa Brava

  6. Federico says:

    I was in Hawaii last year and loved the place as well. So much to do!
    Federico recently posted..Top 5 Things to Do in Istanbul (and two more tips)

  7. Gaelyn says:

    Sounds like a nice love affair. As Hawaii hasn’t been high on my list I look forward to seeing more.
    Gaelyn recently posted..Hunter’s moon

  8. This is why I love this blog – great writing and photography. I can’t wait to hear more about Hawaii!
    Ashley of Ashley Abroad recently posted..My 22nd Birthday in Cork, Ireland

  9. What a beautiful love letter! I feel the same way about Hawaii. I such beautiful memories from there. Great pics!
    Andi of My Beautiful Adventures recently posted..Review: Roomorama (Part 2)

  10. Juno says:

    You look so happy in Hawaii :)
    Juno recently posted..Runaway to Sister’s City – Warsaw, Poland

  11. Elaine Burr - Gram E says:

    I’ve never been there. From your experience, I guess I missed something spectactular.

  12. Beautiful Alex, I can feel the healing Hawaii gave you, and I’m so happy for you. Look forward to reading about your love affair with the Islands.
    Sarah Somewhere recently posted..A Rooftop Farewell

  13. Hannah says:

    You look positively radiant. So glad you had such a special time in Hawaii, and the photos are stunning :)
    Hannah recently posted..One month update from the road

  14. [...] of the Week 73 I’m back in New York, and I have one overwhelming emotion: brrrr! Those six weeks in Hawaii were some of the happiest I’ve ever had, and I admit it’s been a shock to the system to [...]

  15. Sounds like I need to get to Hawaii… I could use some recharging like that! I’ve never been but it looks like what I need. I would love to dive with manta rays…we have them here but they’re rare and I’ve yet to see one!
    Rika | Cubicle Throwdown recently posted..Lazy days.

    • Alex says:

      I’m sure different places would have this effect on different people… this was the time and the place for me! The manta rays were AMAZING, can’t wait to post about that!

  16. Dad says:

    Alex, this is extremely well written. I think the key message here is that in Hawaii one lives outside, perfect weather for it, and I think you are at heart an outdoor person. Love Dad

  17. Sam says:

    Ah you are amazing! Keep the posts coming talented lady x

  18. Abby says:

    Dear Alex, I am sooo jealous you got to spend so much time in Hawaii! I’ve been twice, but both short trips.
    Abby recently posted..How-to: guided motorcycle tours through Grand Canyon

  19. I am SO in agreement on this! One of my favorite places! I’ve only been to the Big Island (three times) and Oahu (once) so I have a whole lot of sightseeing left to do in the islands.
    Camels & Chocolate recently posted..Country Dog: Vol. XIII

  20. [...] just realized that my love for Hawaii is actually making it kind of difficult to write about — Rather than putting my experiences [...]

  21. Jennifer Gue says:

    Ever since I was little I have always wanted to go to Hawaii because I used to wacth Lilo and Stich. The hoola dancing and such attracts me and I really want to take a nice long vacation. I should have wrote about Hawaii in my blog and the fun things people can do on this amazing island. The day I go I’m going to want to do everything from SkyDive to jumping off cliffs into the water clear blue water.

  22. [...] And a very special thanks again to Angie and Alex for having me. I feel that I made two wonderful new friends, and what a better place than paradise. It was the perfect way to say goodbye to Hawaii, a place that will always hold an incredibly special piece of my heart. After all — Hawaii brought me back to life. [...]

  23. [...] started this book while I was in the complete honeymoon stage with Hawaii, and to be fair I never really left it. So I enjoyed the balance this book brought to my [...]

  24. [...] school of thought. When I finally turned a corner, both emotionally and mentally in Hawaii, I could look back on the previous six months and while I knew they had been full of pain they had [...]

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