From the moment a smiling kama’aina (a local, or "child of the land") drapes a string of fragrant, plumerias around your neck, you’ll be welcome in Hawai’i. It's all a part of Aloha.
The northernmost island group in Polynesia, Hawai’i’s archipelago lays comfortably smack in the middle of the endlessly blue Pacific ocean. With an immensely rich and unique culture, Hawai’i is a place where tradition thankfully remains.
The first time I landed in Hawai’i I was a ripe and wise five years of age. I turned to my mum upon landing and with great assertion informed her, “I’m home, Mama!”. She gently corrected me - “No Helly, we’re in Hawai’i now.” . I came back with “I knoowww, but now I’m home home!".
With a quizzical look and a smile, Mum shrugged it off. She knew well enough to pick her battles.
To this day though, I still remember looking out that plane window. My eyes went ablaze seeing the electric red and pink ginger flowers and the lush layers of vibrant greens on top of greens. All reached with joy to a steadfast powder blue sky and rapturous sun. Somehow, before even setting foot on the volcanic soil, I knew I was somewhere I belonged.
Since that day I’ve had the honour of calling the island of Oahu home for a brief period of time and still believe the islands are one place on earth where magic is as tangible as the sand beneath your toes. The plush, honeyed perfume of orchids floats by on a warm, salty breeze and you're convinced watching one kaleidoscope sunset after the other that life couldn't possible get sweeter.
Maybe that's why kama’aina are so utterly grateful. From childhood they're raised to be ambassadors of what’s known as “The Aloha Spirit”. The Way of Aloha is derived for the meaning of the word itself. It is perhaps the most integral part of being a Hawai'ian.
One essential teaching of Aloha is this:
"Aloha is being a part of all, and all being a part of me. When there is pain - it is my pain. When there is joy - it is also mine. I respect all that is as part of the Creator and part of me. I will not willfully harm anyone or anything. When food is needed I will take only my need and explain why it is being taken. The earth, the sky, the sea are mine to care for, to cherish and to protect. This is Hawaiian - this is Aloha!"
To the people of Hawai’i, the islands aren’t just a place to call home, they’re a place to serve; to preserve. In a time where the rest of the world is only waking up to the dire needs of our planet, Hawai’ians have always known the dearly precious value of their miraculous islands. They have an incredible, bottomless sense of respect for the land and waters that sustain their very lives. What we couldn't learn from this.
If you looking for a piece of sunshine and relaxation, you can surely find it in Hawai’i. You can bake into a beautiful bronze and enjoy a hula-inducing Mai-Tai on the beach. But if you want to dig a little deeper and find out just what it is that’s been inspiring Hollywood movies for decades, why it is the local girls actually glow from the inside out, why your pineapple can suddenly taste so much sweeter, then try listening a little closer to that word Aloha. I promise it will give you a thousand reasons to say Mahalo. x