HAWAII, TO ME
Hawaii to me, is so many things. It’s hard to even conjure up the appropriate words for such a magical place, but it’s also like any other town that you feel close to. Hawaii isn’t my home. But it is. And here’s why.
I don’t dance the hula anymore. Except on occasion with the family or with my feet in the water at sunset in Pupukea, when I feel this unrelenting seismic shift, and I feel one with my home. And then I start to dance, and look at the ocean and feel as if I’m exactly where I belong.
I grew up in Southern California. By the ocean, with a father from Hawaii and an Irish mother, who became our most graceful hula dancer of all. We swam in the ocean weekly, we surfed, we ate, we bonfired, we played guitars and sang songs at sunset, we went to church, we loved. It was the very thing my father only knew, and so it became our life.
This is why Hawaii is my home. Because Dad. Because the aloha spirit is so much more than just a lei and a luau. It’s spiritual. And it’s generations carrying on traditions and molding the next generation to carry on traditions. It’s family first. It’s there’s enough food to go around. It’s my door is always open. It’s cousins. It’s cleanse yourself in the pacific ocean.
There’s a way about Hawaii and the way my family lives it. It’s hard to explain perfectly without walking you through it while we eat plate lunch at a picnic table, or stop at a food truck even when the line is too long, it’s having shave ice at the same shave ice stand that we did 30 years ago, only now it’s a tourist trap. But the ice tastes the same. It’s ono. And you can’t take that away.
It’s the island breeze that is so strong and powerful that it almost cleanses you like the salt in the ocean. It’s the cool off period you suddenly get from the rain from the west followed by the most perfect rainbow you’ve ever seen in real life. It’s the aloha you feel when you watch the sun go down and you lose your breath because it is that breathtaking. It’s your 100 year old Aunt whose smile is exactly the same as you remember 20 years ago.
From our days as kids running around Waikiki lucky to be staying in a Sheraton where my Uncle worked for 40 years, to renting an 8 bedroom house on Pipeline beach in the north shore, just 15 minutes away from where my great grandfather tended the pineapple fields, you are bound the find the magic of Hawaii in any crevice you adventure. And the aloha spirit at every turn.
I for one don’t have all the words today to unveil the beauty and grace of the island of Hawaii, but I’ll leave with this.
Stand on the beach, dive into the ocean. Feel your body and soul become one with the world and with yourself. Jump into a waterfall. Stand on black warm lava rock. Embrace the culture. And love your journey. Hawaii isn’t just for lovers. It’s for wanderers. For seekers. For healers. For all of us.
Aloha. Today and always.
See recs below.
Oahu (where we just were)
Dad’s home. Also home of Waikiki and the biggest tourism of all. However, don’t be fooled by the popularity or good shopping (incredible if I may say so), there is so much more beauty to be found on Waikiki and outside of it.
Waikiki, Moana Surfrider is my favorite. It’s historic, it’s beautiful and you won’t be disappointed. The Kahala Hotel and Resort is stunning, luxe and remote. It’s in Kahala, outside of Waikiki and feels like another world. Also there you can swim with dolphins, so winning. The Four Seasons Ko’Olina is exactly what you’d expect from a four seasons, but better. It’s fantastic. Turtle Bay in the North Shore is stunningly beautiful and if golf is your game, this is your place. Hands down.
We rented a home on Pipeline in the North Shore and it was the perfect place for our family of 22. We were right on the beach, swam everyday and were close enough to Haliewa for local eats, good shopping and real north shore Hawaii. Also, Waimea bay, our favorite hang since we were kids, was only a 5 minute drive and so is sharks cove (for snorkeling and diving) and so many more beautiful beaches.
From Waikiki, to snorkeling Hanauma bay, to the epic drive along the cliffs to Sandy Beach, over to Kailua (Dad’s hometown), the stunning Lanikai beach, to all the way to the North Shore, there’s so much beauty to cover.
I could write 10 more pages on Oahu alone, then move on to Big Island (where Grandma was born) and Kauai which is one of me and the hubby’s favorites, to Maui, which is magical and and adventure all it’s own.
But I just hope someday you visit and see what I see. Beauty and love and aloha at every turn. It’s home to me and I cannot wait to return.
(for more photos, please visit my instagram: mailemisajon)