So….. I have some pretty big news. My husband and I just got orders to relocate from Hawaii to San Diego, California in August. Yep, you heard that right. I’m leaving Hawaii.
San Diego is one of my favorite U.S. cities and will definitely be a great place to live. But at the same time, I become very emotional at the thought of leaving Hawaii and the “HI life”. Due to all of this, lately I have been doing a lot of reflecting about the two and a half years I have spent here.
At the same time, Hawaii faces its share of problems. Homelessness is HUGE here. The cost of housing is completely unaffordable for most local families. Overdevelopment plagues the island of Oahu. Public transportation is virtually non-existent and traffic is horrific, yet attempts to build a rail system have been a failure thus far. The environment is at risk due to pollution and rising sea levels. This is just to name a few. It’s been a true eye opener for me to realize that nothing in life is perfect, even paradise.
Looking back, sometimes I am surprised at how different the reality of HI life actually is compared to my expectations before I moved here. There were a LOT of things that were new to me or that I did not realize until I actually called this home. Since people from the mainland generally know very little about Hawaii, they tend to think life is all rainbows and sunshine here. So it may surprise you just like it surprised me to learn many of these things about how it actually is to live here…
Anyone who knows me or follows my travels probably expects that my honeymoon would be no different than other trips I take: full of adventure. As I mentioned in part one, honeymoons should be all about what the couple loves doing most. And for Mr. and Mrs. Strange, that is exploring.
For our honeymoon, we decided to island hop within Hawaii. Since we knew we were about to move soon, we kept the honeymoon small and affordable, yet still managed to pack in a lot of fun and adventure. We spent four days in Kaua’i and three days in Maui, and it will always be the most memorable trip of my life.
It’s been two years and two months since I moved to the Rainbow State. Overall, it has been the greatest experience of my life and the best decision I’ve ever made. I have had amazing adventures enjoying all Hawaii has to offer, including beaches, hikes, island hopping, watersports, even swimming with sharks. I met my soul mate, who I am marrying in a few weeks, and I made some amazing friends who have become family. I got to learn about Hawaiian history and be immersed in Polynesian culture, which has been so eye opening and profound for me. I attended countless cultural festivals here to live like a real local. I even got to take advantage of the location by traveling throughout Asia several times.
But more importantly, moving to Hawaii has taught me so much about myself and who I am. Spreading my wings and being brave enough to leave home for an unfamiliar place so far away where I knew no one, and yet creating such a fulfilling and fabulous life from scratch has been a journey of self-discovery like no other. I’ve gotten to explore and study my spirituality on a deeper level. I connected with nature like never before. I uncovered my true purpose in life. Best of all, I truly fell in love with myself in the process and could not be more proud of the well-rounded woman I have become as I approach my 30th birthday this year.
So now, as I face the possibility of moving away soon to wherever my fiancé’s next duty station will be, I become a bit emotional at the thought of leaving a place I have grown so fond of. Hawaii will always be the most special and magical place in the world to me. I came here in search of something and I wasn’t even sure what, and along the way I found my soul AND my soul mate. So yes, you could say Hawaii has been VERY good to me. If it weren’t for the high cost of living and extreme over crowdedness, it would be the most perfect place on earth to live. And if it weren’t for me marrying someone in the military, I would probably stay here for a very long time. However, there’s a big chance that it’s time to spread my wings yet again.
One of the best things about living in Hawaii is being able to island hop when you need a slight change in scenery and a little getaway. Not that the islands are that different from one another, but each has an interesting history and unique things that set them apart. Of the eight main Hawaiian islands, Oahu, Maui, Big Island, and Kauai are the most popular to visit (in that order).
However, there is another often forgotten island I have always wanted to visit aside from these. Off the coast of Maui, there is a smaller island called Moloka’i, which is about 38 by 10 miles, and has a population of less than 8,000. There are no traffic lights, only stop signs, so you will not find any traffic at all. There’s a main town that you could miss if you just blink your eyes. Basically, it’s about as country as country can get. Normally, this would not appeal much to me but after reading a book about it, I was curious to take a day trip there to see what it’s all about. This past Saturday I boarded a teeny, tiny 9-passenger island hopper, and after a very bumpy fight, I got to explore Moloka’i with some close friends.
Even those who have never visited Hawaii have probably heard the word “aloha” before. It is commonly known as a Hawaiian greeting (both hello and goodbye) and is also used as the word for love. But it goes much deeper than that and is actually a quite powerful concept. So what does it actually mean?
I know, I know. I have been a bad, bad blogger. Since I started this site earlier this year, I have tried to be pretty consistent about writing and posting regularly- not only since this is a commandment for successful blogging, but because I really appreciate the time my loyal readers and followers take to read all my content. So there’s absolutely no excuse for why I have taken a break and been absent for so long. But I can assure you – my hiatus was for a good cause. I was busy falling in love.
Since I moved to Hawaii, I have really pushed myself out of my comfort zone and tried to be more adventurous. It’s so crucial to make the most of my time here and enjoy all the amazing activities the island has to offer. I’ve become a fan of snorkeling and hiking, and have also tried stand up paddle-boarding, swimming with dolphins, riding a submarine, and even got into a shark cage. Last August, time finally came to try kayaking, which is something I had been excited for since it’s a huge local favorite. A friend of mine from work had some extra kayaks and luckily they’re the kind you pedal with your legs rather than paddle with your arms, making them much easier to operate. I knew the day would be lots of fun. Little did I know that, that Saturday we kayaked out to the Kaneohe Bay sandbars would teach me some major life lessons I needed to learn.
One may not think of Honolulu as an artsy city, but I have been pleasantly surprised at all the fabulous art and talent I have found in my time here. A perfect example of this is an event known as POW WOW Hawaii, which takes places annually in the Kaka’ako area. Local artists showcase their best on the walls of buildings throughout this industrial-turned-hipster neighborhood, which has been undergoing major restoration and construction projects to completely revamp its image into a more trendy and modern community. There is a monthly night market where vendors and food trucks line the streets, and there are new shops and restaurants opening up all the time. The art certainly compliments these vibes. If it weren’t for the palm trees and the ocean being a few blocks away, one might forget they were in Hawaii and perhaps think they were in New York City.
Without all these stunning visuals, the area would be quite dull and tiresome. Instead, the art makes it charming and inviting. According to Hawaii News Now, local business owners now embrace what unique flair this street art has added to the community. The roughness of urban life, such as cars lining the street and warehouses on each block, provide a stark contrast against the bright colors and vibrant animations that make up these exhibits. It transmits a refreshing and fun energy to any passerby. The captivating street murals represent a vast array of styles, but a majority consist of deep symbolism. Most of the themes represent the local Hawaiian perspective and send powerful messages of activism and cultural pride.
I had the pleasure of strolling the Kaka’ako neighborhood with some girlfriends this evening to enjoy all this beautiful art and test out my new camera. Afterwards, we had dinner at the legendary Highway Inn restaurant also in Kaka’ako, which is an absolute must for delicious local “kine” dishes. A delightful time all around and I am so pleased to share these images I captured with you so you can get a feel for the art movement here in Hawaii that is very much alive and thriving.
More info on the POW WOW Hawaii project as well as the artists can be found here.
Hawaiian culture is absolutely fascinating. One of my favorite things about it is that it revolves around a deep respect for and connection with the aina (land). This belief is prevalent across all indigenous cultures of the world and although most of these people have been robbed of their heritage, the concept is still sacred to them to this day. ‘O ka ha o ka ‘aina ke ola o ka po’e translates to “the breath of the land is the life of the people”. This simply means that when you take care of the land, the land takes care of you. Sustainability.
Giving back to the aina is important, especially for me, since this aina has been so good to me. Moving to Hawaii 14 months ago has been the best thing for me and my spirit, and allowed me to truly thrive in ways I never imagined were possible. I attribute this to the mana (power) that exists here, which is known to be healing for all who encounter it.
So I was definitely excited when a friend invited me to experience a lᾱ hana (work day). For Hawaiians, this is not only an opportunity to help out the community, but it “strengthens the connection between people and land”. I was completely honored to partake and this ended up being one of the greatest experiences I’ve had here in Hawaii to date.
Living in Hawaii has given me firsthand exposure to the incredibly rich history and culture of the Hawaiian people. It is a total joy, delight, and privilege to experience it. One of the coolest things about their heritage is surfing – everything from how it originated here in Polynesia, how it spread to become a worldwide phenomenon over the years and influenced millions of people, and how it’s still such a coveted and celebrated sport here to this day.
During the winter months from November to March, surf enthusiasts from around the world flock to Oahu’s famous “North Shore” for perfect surf conditions at iconic beaches. The waves range from 20-30 feet most days and during large swells, there are some pretty major surf competitions that go down. Basically, in the surfing world, this is the place to be.
However, there is one “big wave” surf competition that trumps all others. The Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau, affectionately known as “the Eddie”, is THE most prestigious surf event in the entire world. For it to occur, there are extremely distinct standards for the size and duration of the waves that must be in place. When forecasters predict that conditions could be favorable for the Eddie, thousands of spectators will camp out ahead of time with high hopes. Yet it’s only went down 8 times in the 31 years since its creation in 1984. The last time it happened was in 2009. That is until last week, when the 9th Eddie and the biggest one yet was a go. And I was fortunate enough to attend.