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 feel 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, wise five years of age.
I turned to my mum while the plane was taxing in and with total certainty exclaimed, “I’m home, Mama!”. She giggled and gently corrected me - “No Helly, we’re in Hawai’i now". I came back with “I knoowww, but now I’m home home!".
Mum shrugged it off. She knew to pick her battles.
To this day though, I still remember looking out that plane window. My eyes were ablaze seeing the electric red and pink ginger flowers and all the layers of vibrant green against a endless blue sky. Somehow, before even setting foot on the volcanic soil, I knew I was somewhere I belonged.
15 years later, I had the honour of calling Oahu home for a few months.
spending more time there, i still believe the islands are one place on earth where magic is as tangible as the sand beneath your toes. The honeyed perfume of orchids floats on a warm, salty breeze and it feels like maybe the only important thing in life is watching a slow sunset with the ones you love.
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 true value of their islands. They have an incredible sense of respect for the land and waters that sustain their lives.
What couldn't we learn from this.
it's this reverence, the warm, welcoming nature of the aloha spirit and the stunning landscape that come together to make the islands one of the most unforgettable places on earth.
aloha for now, my friends.