Throughout my many years of travelling, I have never once visited somewhere that truly stole my heart. Well, that was true up until September 2016 when I set foot in Hawaii for the first time.
I’d often heard stories of others who had gone backpacking in Southeast Asia and discovered their love for the local culture, the food or even just the picturesque sunsets. I’d even heard of travellers who had visited Paris and loved everything about it, only to return year upon year.
For me though, since 2013, I’ve aimed to explore 3 new places abroad every year. In some ways, I have been searching for a second home, somewhere I may want to explore multiple times over without ever getting bored and somewhere that I could truly fall in love with.
I found all of these things and more last year, when my other half and I were finally able to explore Hawaii for the first time. In the time we had, we explored two Hawaiian islands: O’ahu and The Big Island.
Two very different islands. Two very beautiful and distinct islands. Two islands that I fell in love with for two very different reasons.
Here’s my story of how I fell in love with Hawaii…
I fell in love with the Hawaiian landscape…
Any regular follower of my blog knows that I am in love with nature. It has played a huge part in my journey through the UK, and plays a significant part in any overseas travelling I do as well.
This was no different in Hawaii.
We explored the island of O’ahu first. As part of a Lost filming locations tour with KOS tours, we experienced more than just the beauties and histories of Honolulu.
If I ever take anything away from O’ahu, it will be the dramatic landscapes we had the pleasure of seeing. From exotic palm trees, to golden beaches, to turquoise waters, to deep forests, O’ahu offered so much beauty in nature. One large take home for me was this tree.
Known as ‘Kate’s Tree’ within the hit TV show, Lost, I was mesmerised by not only the tree itself, but the surrounding meadow, blue sky and white picket fence.
Fast forward a few days and we then found ourselves on The Big Island. This time, we had the pleasure of embarking on two more tours with Arnott’s Lodge based in Hilo.
The first tour was to see smoking volcanic craters and active volcanoes in the Volcano National Park (a must for any first-timer to The Big Island).
The second tour was to scale the Mauna Kea mountain (home to one of the most famous observatories) to watch sunsets and stargaze. Mauna Kea mountain allows you to view the Milky Way with just the naked eye, and I had the pleasure of seeing more stars than I ever could have imagined existed.
If I take just one learning away from The Big Island’s landscape, it will be the wonders both above and below the ground. Way up high, you will see thousands upon thousands of sparkling stars. Below ground, there will be steaming lava spurting from volcanoes or hot steam rising through cracks in active craters.
I’ve always loved the Hawaiian culture…
As an admirer of any culture that truly respects nature and fellow people, I have always loved the Hawaiian way of life. Upon actually visiting, I can now say this is most definitely true.
When visiting Kīlauea Iki crater on The Big Island, our tour guide told us that it is a taboo to steal lava rock. Admittedly, a large number of travellers probably do this without knowing how sacred this rock is to Hawaiians. Maybe they would listen if they learned that stolen lava rock is considered to be cursed?
As an archipelago created from volcanic rock, one of Hawaii’s most famous legends involves Pele (or Pelehonuamea) aka the Volcano Goddess. So the story goes that if you steal any rock, or even a grain of sand belonging to Pele, a curse will fall upon you.
A Public Affairs Specialist for Hawaii Volcano National Park has previously said: “[The superstition] wasn’t started in a mean way. But here, people are told that taking pohaku [stones] is a sign of disrespect. You wouldn’t take something that doesn’t belong to you from somebody’s house.” You can’t deny that she doesn’t make a good point there! Read more about this curse here.
But it’s not just this love of nature that has caused me to fall in love with Hawaiian culture.
It’s their relaxed, laid back way of life, the language (although incredibly difficult for any outsider to master) and even their state laws. Wait, what? How could I fall in love with someone’s rulebook?
In Hawaii, ‘Aloha’ is more than just a hello or goodbye. A common state law known as the “Aloha Spirit” exists to ensure that a person’s mind and heart are in balance with one another. Each person must think positively and display positive feelings to others. How you decide to show those good feelings to others could be influenced by:
- Akahai – meaning kindness expressed with tenderness
- Lokahi – meaning unity expressed with harmony
- ‘Olu’olo – meaning agreeableness expressed with pleasantness
- Ha’aha’a – meaning humility expressed with modesty
- Ahonui – meaning patience expressed with perseverance
Quite simply – people of Hawaii know not only how to respect nature, but also how to respect eachother. This is one thing I think more of us most definitely can learn from!
They say the way to a girl’s heart is through her stomach…
It’s not just men who fall in love with food!
Hawaii has some incredible dishes, and in true honour of their love and respect for others, you can guarantee that the food will be made with true love and passion.
In Hawaii, many locals are able to find papayas, mangoes, coconuts and avocados just growing on their trees. To me, this screams the epitome of tropical life! You may even be lucky enough to find a pineapple growing in a bush nearby…
Aside from these luscious fruits and vegetables, the macadamia nut is native to Hawaii as well. Okay, so I may only like them in my desserts but still, Hawaii should be super smug about this posh nut, as it’s treasured by so many!
Hawaii also introduced me to guava juice. Served in restaurants, shops, cafes and even on Hawaiian Airlines flights, this is a super tasty drink! I just wish it was more common to buy here in England.
As a total purveyor of puddings, Hawaii allowed me to find my own kind of dessert heaven. Chocolatey masterpieces of goodness, volcano-shaped cakes and flower-laden cheesecakes – need I say more?
One final note on the food… when in Hawaii, the most common ingredients to be used will be lau lau, kalua pig, squid luau, lomi salmon, pipikaula, poi and haupia. Combine this with an appetite the size of the Pacific Ocean, and you are most definitely onto a winner with Hawaiian food.
Hawaii saw me become a travel writer shortly after my trip…
Despite travelling for many years, I had never really thought about writing about my travels. I simply took photos and shared memories with my friends and family back home via Facebook and spoken conversations.
Yet, after visiting Hawaii, I wanted to tell the whole world about just how amazing it is! My other half was the one to put travel blogging in my head prior to visiting Hawaii, and it was Hawaii that finally sealed the deal for me.
Upon arriving home, I quickly set to work researching blogging and how to start a website. And then my very first article was born (pretty much as a blogging experiment that I now refuse to delete, no matter how rubbish it is!)
Since launching my blog, I have joined a Marketing team to write about retail and business, whilst continuing to love travel writing in my spare time. I think it’s safe to say that Hawaii really did change my life (in more ways than one).
I could probably write thousands upon thousands of words about how I fell in love with Hawaii, but I would also like to leave a little mystery for future articles about this stunning archipelago. You will just have to keep reading to find out more! 😉
One thing I will say though is this: I will most definitely be returning to Hawaii again. Next time, I plan on seeing some other islands, including Maui and Kauai. But I would also love to return to The Big Island again too. Watch this space!
Have you fallen in love with somewhere yet – where was it? I’d love to hear your thoughts!
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