To Hawaii With Aloha
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 Hawaiian Airlines 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.
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?
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.
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.
With So Much Aloha,
“If you’re a truly lucky traveler, you won’t be the same person when you get home.” — Patrick Bredehoft
That was the perfect way to introduce hawaii, cannot wait for more!
I only went to Maui County but I adore Hawaii as well and want to go back to see the other islands.
I only missed out on Molokai… and you better bet I’ll be back to see it someday!
I’m excited to hear more about your trip!
Thanks Emily, I’m just as excited to share!
I’ve only been to Oahu, but loved it as well. Can’t wait to get back one day!
Oahu was actually one of my favorite islands. I loved Honolulu, I’m such a city girl.
One day I will make it that way!
You’ve got to! I never really considered Hawaii till my friends moved there and then I found this gem of a place.
I was in Hawaii last year and loved the place as well. So much to do!
It really is amazing… I was there for 6 weeks and I could have stayed another six and not done everything!
Sounds like a nice love affair. As Hawaii hasn’t been high on my list I look forward to seeing more.
I felt the same Gaelyn, so I hope I can get other people excited about Hawaii too!
This is why I love this blog – great writing and photography. I can’t wait to hear more about Hawaii!
Aw, thank you so much Ashley! You made my day!
What a beautiful love letter! I feel the same way about Hawaii. I such beautiful memories from there. Great pics!
Andi, which island/s did you go to? I can imagine this is a place you would love!
You look so happy in Hawaii 🙂
And this was just the beginning! 🙂 I had no idea just how happy Hawaii would really make me.
I’ve never been there. From your experience, I guess I missed something spectactular.
It’s not too late to go! 🙂
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.
Thanks Sarah 🙂 I feel like we need to meet again now that I’m not such a zombie! You were so sweet to me but I feel like I was not myself! 🙂
Not at all honey, you’ve been through a lot and have handled it all with grace and dignity 🙂 But yes, let’s do it again some time!
You look positively radiant. So glad you had such a special time in Hawaii, and the photos are stunning 🙂
That’s so sweet Hannah! I’m glad my happiness is coming through!
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!
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!
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
Who would have guessed it just a few short years ago? But it’s true, I need lots of sunshine and physical activity I think.
Ah you are amazing! Keep the posts coming talented lady x
Thanks Sam 🙂 You’re pretty darn close to Hawaii, right? Well looks that way on a map. Get there!
Dear Alex, I am sooo jealous you got to spend so much time in Hawaii! I’ve been twice, but both short trips.
I think Hawaii is a place that reveals more over time… You should make an extended visit someday 🙂
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.
YOU SHOULD HAVE BEEN IN KAUA’I. That is all.
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.
I hope you get there soon Jennifer, good luck! It’s worth the wait 🙂
Hawaii is an absolute mindblower when coming from the mainland northeast – just like you, I came from the northeast (Pennsylvania and lived in NYC for a while too). It’s quite a contrast. It’s like water-world for mainlanders. I was lucky enough to stay on Oahu and Maui for a few years. One never gets used the beauty surrounding you as you see it daily, I can tell you. I think most people feel the same. Anyway – great site, love it! Go back again as soon as possible! Aloha!
I would go back every year if my budget and schedule allowed! Glad to hear from another Hawaii lover. Enjoy it for me!