Beware: Hawaii is addictive!

Poipu Sunset

When I hear that friends and family are planning their first vacation to Hawaii, I usually warn them that Hawaii is addictive. I have to admit that I’m an addict. I do travel to other destinations, though.  Since I first traveled to Hawaii in 2003, I’ve been to Australia, French Polynesia, England, Canada, Mexico and a handful of US vacation spots, but it’s beautiful Hawaii that keeps calling me back

To prove my point of how addictive Hawaii is, I feel like I need to make a confession here.  Would you believe I never wanted to go to Hawaii in the first place?  It’s true.  Back in the winter of 2003, my husband, Andy, and a couple of dear friends of ours were brainstorming where to go on vacation together. Italy was my choice.  I had been buying Italy guidebooks and listening to Italian language lessons on my way to and from work.  (Even today I still know how to ask how much something costs and where is the restroom in Italian. :-) Two very important phrases, right?)

So I was pushing Italy while Andy and my friend Sheryl were pushing Hawaii. I had been to several Caribbean Islands and I thought that Hawaii was just the same as the Caribbean, but with a much further plane journey from the East Coast. Since then, I’ve learned how very wrong I was! (See my comparison of Hawaii versus the Caribbean.)

Since Andy and Sheryl said that Hawaii was a dream destination for them, I sacrificed my desire to go to Italy so that I could go on a long plane ride to what I then thought would be another boring island, Maui (with a day trip to Oahu), out in the middle of the Pacific. As I’m writing this post, I’m laughing at how ignorant I was. 

Out of my compromise came such a great blessing! From the moment we landed at the airport in Maui, I became infected with the sweet addiction of Hawaii. The smell of the air, the tradewinds, the velvet green cliffs, the lava rocks, the amazing blue water, and the Aloha spirit that permeates the soul all began to rock my world. I tried to transform myself into a sponge and absorb all the sights, smells, and sounds that I could.

Kalalau Valley

I can’t remember if I cried or not when I left Maui, but I do remember being really sad about leaving. I thought that I had taken my once in a lifetime trip to Hawaii and that it was all over.  I don’t recall how long it was after we returned home that we started thinking of how we could get back to Hawaii. Oh, we plotted and schemed and did our best to find a way back to feed our new found addiction. Six months later, we said Aloha to Kauai.  Another six months past and we find ourselves on the Big Island. Since then we’ve vacationed on all the islands and doubled and tripled back on a few.

Out of my love and enthusiasm for Hawaii, I began independently blogging about Hawaii travel in March 2007. I’ve written 717 articles focused on Hawaii travel news, deals, and tips. (This one makes 718, actually.) How is that for proving my point that Hawaii is addictive? I rest my case!

Have you been infected with a love of Hawaii? Please share your story in the comments.  Begin by saying, “Hello, my name is ________, and I’m addicted to Hawaii.” :-)


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About Sheila Beal

Sheila Beal is the founder and editor of Go Visit Hawaii. You can connect with Sheila Beal on Twitter, Go Visit Hawaii on Facebook, or Sheila Beal on Google+.

30 comments

  1. Hello, my name is Andy, and I’m addicted to Hawaii! :-)

    A warning to anyone that hasn’t yet been to Hawaii – once you go, you won’t ever be satisfied by any other tropical destination. Sure, they’ll tempt you with sandy beaches, tropical drinks, and ocean breezes, but there’s only one Hawaii and it gets in your blood!

  2. Hallo !! My name is laura and I’m addicted to Hawaii !!!
    This Summer we visited Oahu and Big Island : 16 days in PARADISE !!!!!
    We came all the way from ………….. YES !!! ……………… ITALY !!!! a long trip , with stops in Chicago and Los Angeles – but well worth it !!!
    Still now the ALOHA spirit is all around us – back home in Italy ( we ARE Italians ); this was our fourth trip to the islands – one we have been dreaming about for a whole year : I’ve gone through a very hard treatment ( and I’m not well even now ) … but HAWAII helped me to go through very rough days , and I always kept smiling and dreaming about Waikiki and Keauhou !!!
    The hula shows, those fragrant leis , the cute turtles I could see each day while in Big Island , the kindness of Hawaii people … all these are precious memories of a life time !!! THANK YOU also to your blog – I’ve learned a lot from it !!!

    We are already saving money … to go back to Hawaii as soon as we can !!!

    CIAO !! laura from Italy

  3. Hello, my name is David, and I’m addicted to Hawaii.

    I’ve always wanted to visit Hawaii ever since I was a little kid. I grew up in the middle of the desert in Roswell New Mexico of all places. Living in the desert has a strange way of making people like me fantasize about visiting tropical islands.

    Then I moved to Denver after High School. While living in Denver, most of my friends visited Hawaii and everybody had the exact same reaction. Everybody immediately started planning the next visit or started fantasizing about moving there.

    So… Since everybody I knew who went to Hawaii wanted to go right back or stay forever… and I had a strong feeling that I would have the same type of reaction… I decided to go for broke and buy a one-way ticket.

    That was 10 years ago. I’m still here & I still feel like I’m on vacation. :^)

  4. Hello, my name is Nathan, and I’m addicted to Hawaii. Through I need to disclose I was born and raised here. :-)

    But to your point about Hawaii being addictive, I’ve heard this many times over in dealing with colleagues and friends that have visited. I work in public relations and have met numerous travel journalists on assignment covering Hawaii. Most agree that there is an unspoken “something” that exists here and no place else in the world. Local call it the Aloha Spirit.

    I’ve had journalists cry on press trips after meeting with the locals, listening to the history of these islands, growing up and living in the islands. They’ve also told me they’ve been able to reconnect with themselves after a visit.

    If you break down the meaning of the word “Hawaii” itself its very clear why people feel this way about the island. This website does a good job explaining:

    http://www.kaleoaloha.com/hawaii.html

    HA – Means the “breathe of life”.
    WAI – In literal English means, “fresh water.” In it’s metaphoric use means, “The water of life” or the”living waters”
    I – This word is literally, the word/ or tone denoting or implying the concept of a supreme God, original consciousness. Hawaiians would as a culture, refrain from speaking directly about the supreme.

    Looking forward to finding you in our islands again soon. Aloha and a hui hou!

  5. “Hello, my name is Heike, and I’m addicted to Hawaii.” Kind of strange for a girl, born and raised in Germany and now living in North Carolina. I grew up with lot’s of music in my home, flowers in the hair, lot’s of german luau’s, and family was very important.
    After moving to the states a big part of me was missing. I began to listen to old Hawaiian music my mama and papa listened to and began to love the islands of Hawaii. Ever since that day, I have been going completely crazy over it. I began to teach Yoga with a Aloha spirit and called it “Aloha Yoga”. The workshops are still going on right now. But that was not enough, I began a web-site called alohawilmington.com to share the spirit of Aloha. Wow! It spilled over to so many people. There is a magical, special feeling living the Aloha spirit, it is an essential part of life-like breathing. Living Aloha is giving back to the ‘ohana (community) and it makes your heart feel good. And best of all, it’s contagious.

  6. Wow, I am blown away from all your great responses.

    @ Andy – your statement, “there’s only one Hawaii and it gets in your blood!” is too true.

    @ marco/laura – I thought I had a long journey to travel to Hawaii from North Carolina, but you have an even longer one. Wow…all the way from Italy. I hope you get well soon and get back to Hawaii sooner rather than later!

    @ Dave – what a bold step to buy a one-way ticket. You are very blessed to feel like you are always on vacation. How cool!

    @ Nathan – I can relate to this “unspoken something” that you mentioned. I think it’s something in the air. Thanks so much for sharing the meaning of the word Hawai’i. That would make a great blog post!

    @ Heike – Aloha fellow North Carolinian! What a neat story of your connection to Hawaii via Germany! What a blessing you must be to the Wilmington area by sharing and teaching the Aloha Spirit. That’s simply amazing!

  7. So, Sheila – How many trips exactly have you made to Hawaii from your continental-U.S. home?

    Hi, I’m Kara and I’m addicted to Hawaii!

    I’ve been to Hawaii 5 times:

    - when I worked at a NYC-based magazine and took a press trip to check out the brand-new Kea Lani resort hotel (now a Fairmont) on Maui
    - on a Globus tour of 4 islands (I worked for the tour company; I think an escorted tour is a great way to get a taste of many islands)
    - with my then-8-month-old daughter, hubby, and assorted family for a condo stay on Maui
    - on a family vacation to Kauai, just last year when kids were 5 & 7 (that ROCKED)
    - and most recently, this year with my fellow Traveling Mamas, where we spent 3 nights on Maui, and then split up to explore other islands — I got Lanai & Molokai. I *cannot wait* to go back to those two remote islands and bring my family next time.

    Eesh… now I want to research airfares…

  8. Me, too! Me, too! Me, too!

    I’ve been to Hawaii twice — both for work — and I am dying to just go without an agenda someday. But I’d go on assignment again, too! Wanna send me??

  9. @ Kara/MountainMama – Sounds like you’ve seen quite a bit of Hawaii! Isn’t it nice to get off the beaten path onto Lanai and Molokai? Ah, Lanai reminds me of total pampering and relaxation – two activities I love! :-)

    I just counted up my trips and I’ve only been to Hawaii 8 times roundtrip. Since we travel from North Carolina, we try to go for more than a week and sometimes two each time. We also try to go to two islands each trip. On one trip, we were went to 3 different islands. The funny thing is every time I go to Hawaii, I think my to do list for my next visit gets even longer. There’s so much to do and see and experience!

    Do check out the fares! I think there’s a good chance you may find some pleasant surprises. I’ll cross my fingers for you!

    @ Angela – Haha! If I could send you I would. I hope you get back to Hawaii without an agenda soon! There are some great hotel deals this fall!

  10. Hello, my name is Pam. I have gone without Hawaii for almost a year now, and it’s been a struggle every single day.

    The first time I tasted sweet sweet Hawaii, we flew thousands of miles, from our expat home in Austria to land in Kona. When we stepped off the plane into the open air, I smelled the plumeria and I knew I was in big, big trouble.

    Things have only gotten worse. Never mind the closet full of Hawaiian shirts. Never mind the ukulele collection. Never mind the guide books, the slide show that I play over and over and over again, especially on days like today’s gray cold October morning. Never mind our beach wedding on Maui. Never mind all that.

    Not a day goes by that we don’t wake up and think, “WHY ARE WE NOT IN HAWAII?!? WHY?!”

    A-hem. Hello, my name is Pam and I am a Hawaii addict.

  11. Oh, Pam, I had to smile at your last line! Sounds like we are kindred spirits who will probably live (willingly) with this addiction for the rest of our lives!

    Now did I see that you’ve written a guide book? What’s the name of it? Do you have a link for it? I’d love to check it out!

  12. “Hello, my name is Steve an I am a Hawaiiholic.”

    My story is so similar to Andy’s! I had never visited Hawaii, nor had much desire to, nor was even into tropical destinations until a work trip opportunity came up in June 2003. Believe it or not, no one else in the office wanted to go because of the long flight from Maryland, but i love flying and travel and volunteered. It was such a hardship!

    Long story short, I fell in love with Hawaii, and in 2005 my wife and I came back to Oahu (part business trip/mostly vacation) then to Maui and the Big Island. In 2007 we went back again to Oahu for a short 6 nights, now we are going back in March to Waikkiki for 11 nights to celebrate our 16th wedding anniversary! There is so much to do there, great hiking, surfing, snorkeling, history of WWII, great food, and it’s safe and friendly to boot! You can walk everywhere in Waikikki (vacation for me is getting out of the car), but a short drive and you are in a completely different world. Unbeatable.

  13. @ Steve – that’s funny that you had to volunteer to go to Hawaii. I bet that doesn’t happen often.

    I totally agree on the great hiking on Oahu. We have only scratched the surface there on the many hiking trails. What’s been your favorite hikes so far?

    Do you have your accommodations planned for your anniversary trip in March? If not, we literally just got back from staying at the newly renovated Outrigger Reef. It was a fantastic resort. Twice a week they offer a free vow renewal on the beach, It’s free for guests staying at either the Outrigger Reef or Outrigger Waikiki Beach properties. Andy and I took part in the renewal and it was just a lovely ceremony.

  14. Sheila,

    We have only scratched the surface of hiking trials, my favorite so far has been Manoa Falls, we went well past the falls and to the top of the ridge last year. It was quite muddy past the falls, but the view at the top was wonderful, and hardly anyone hikes there, not too well marked i must add. We tried to go hiking in the Audobon Center on the North Shore, but it was closed for renovations last year (boo!).I saw an article in my newspaper, and it mentioned http://www.oahuhikingtrails.com, I haven’t looked it up yet.

    Do you have any favorites you recommend?

    [On a side note, on the Big Island, the hike out to the lava flow was one of the most unique I have ever done. It was fascinating. ]

    Speaking of hotels, we stay at the Waikikki Sand villa. It is a terrific deal. While it is definitely not as nice as the 2 you described, the rooms are modern and clean, it’s 3 blocks form the beach, is bordered by the Ala wai Canal and golf course on one side with a beautiful view of the mountains, has a HUGE pool and outdoor jacuzzi (always kept at the perfect temp), and an open air bar/lite restaurant open til 4 am if you’re into that. Rates start at $90 and go up to $120/night, with a 10% discount for 7 nights or more. I think it is one of the best-kept secrets in Waikikki. They offer a breakfast, but it’s just pastries, etc. We usually go to Duke’s breakfast buffet (a 5 minute walk), I love the location on the beach–it’s probably my favorite restaurant in the world.

  15. Steve – We also liked hiking to Manoa Fall, though we didn’t do the extra section that you described. We had already hiked Diamond Head that morning and weren’t up for the additional mileage, plus the trail looked very over grown.

    On Oahu, we like the walk/hike out to Makapuu point on the East. We also like Pu’u Pia hike to a cliff in Manoa valley. I’d love to hike the Manoa Cliffs trail from Tantalus Drive.

    I’m afraid that the link recommended by your newspaper is no longer active. We have used BackyardOahu.com as well as HawaiiTrails.org

    I think my all time favorite hike in Hawaii would be on Kauai into Waimea Canyon. Second to that might be Kilauea Iki on the Big Island. I could probably spend a month in Hawaii just hiking.

  16. Thanks for the tips Sheila, yes that same article mentioned Backyard Oahu too. The trail past Manoa Falls did look very overgrown from a distance, but the trail itself was clear (but muddy, it had rained there a lot the day before), it went up and up through bamboo and banyan tree forests. It took a long time to wash off the mud! I’ve never been to Kauai, that’s another trip altogether. Maybe next time!

  17. Hi i have stumbled across this forum/message board about Hawaii and thought I would ask some advice and stuff, as we are due to go on our first trip to Hawaii this coming May, I won it in a competition on the radio! – here in London where we live.

    I have admit I am concerned about the long flight to Hawaii and we have to stop over at LA but we have decided to just stay and wait for our connection onto Hawaii and not see LA as we will need to add extra nights for that and we wanted our extra nights to see more of Hawaii. In total we should be there for 8 nights.

    We are staying on Big Island Waikiola Beach Resort (Marriott) So can anyone re-assure us that our long 12 hours then plus 6 hours from LA is going to be worth all the numb bums on the plane?!! im sure it is and i am grateful so much to be able to go & see these islands.

    We land in Honolulu first after LA and then onto Big Island.

    We also have one night in our trip to stay at the Volcano House Hotel.

    I am researching everything I can at present so we can see as much as we can but also have some relaxing beach days too.

    thanks everyone, so nice to hear you are all addicted to Hawaii. I hope I come back and can join the group and be AS addicted!

    regards
    Jane London

  18. Aloha Jane and welcome to Go Visit Hawaii.

    I think and hope you’ll find that your trip to Hawaii will be worth the long flights. I have very good friends who live just outside of London (Berkshire) who took a holiday to Hawaii and absolutely loved it.

    The Waikoloa beach resort area is quite nice and the Marriott has recently been rennovated. http://www.govisithawaii.com/2008/12/01/waikoloa-beach-resort-a-great-place-to-stay-on-hawaiis-big-island/

    Here’s some articles to help you be more comfortable on your long flight –
    http://www.govisithawaii.com/2008/08/01/my-necessities-when-flying-to-and-from-hawaii/
    http://www.govisithawaii.com/2007/09/18/long-haul-flights-5-tips-for-comfort/
    http://www.govisithawaii.com/2007/09/18/how-to-sleep-on-a-plane/

    For what to see and do on the Big Island, you’ll find loads of ideas here:
    http://www.govisithawaii.com/category/big-island/big-island-activities/

    Have a great time and please come back and let us know how you liked it.

  19. Thank you Sheila, that was a quick response! wow!

    I will read all the links you have sent me with interest and I will of
    course come back upon our return with what I thought about our trip. Good to
    know your friends in Berkshire enjoyed their trip.

    Thanks again for your reply and your help.
    Regards
    Jane

  20. My name is Connie Lieving and I am addicted to Hawaii. My husband and I landed in Honolulu on May 3rd and I did not want to leave when our trip was over. I wad mesmerized by the sights, smells, and the culture. We spent a couple of nights in Honolulu and visited Pearl Harbor as well as touring the Capitol. It was beautiful. We then moved on to Maui for the rest of our trip. I was hooked from the moment my feet hit the ground and have alreadystarted planning our next trip in September.

  21. Sheila my husband was talking about a trip for just us and was suggesting Vegas. I was not interested. I was not really serious when I suggested Hawaii, but for the price I preferred someplace tropical. I did not think he would agree as he hates to fly. Well…that was then and this is now we are both addited and are plAnning to go back in Sept. One day I too may take a one way flight.

  22. Hi everyone I just wanted to say, that i emailed back in early 2009 and said that once back from our trip to Hawaii from the UK I would email and tell you all about our first visit, but we are still due to go! we go this September, various things in our life had us put our trip on hold, so the suspense of finally going, has been quite stressful, I will report once we are back!

    Our itinery is now: flying United into LA then a wait then onto Honolulu staying at outrigger for 2 nighs then flying to Hilo, picking up rental car driving over to Kona to where we staying for 8 nights! – so in those days following, we hope to mix relaxation with some planned trips (albeit long drives across the island) to see a couple of sights, or we may take some tours, to save my man being too stressed doing all the driving!

    regards jane
    london

  23. Hello. My name is Wanda and I am totally, hopelessly addicted to Hawaii.

    Like Sheila, I really didn’t think Hawaii would be that different from the Caribbean. I used to work for American Airlines selling tour packages, and I marvelled at the nuts who would fly so far to a US state that couldn’t possibly be that big a deal. On my first trip, though, I was in tears when we checked out of the Mauna Kea on the Big Island. A few hours later we were on Waikiki Beach finding even more to love. We went to Hawaii three years in a row and continued to fall in love with every spot we visited. I am still nearly in tears every time we have to leave, but I know I will be back. I love to be the first to spot land as we approach, and I watch from the window of the plane until I can’t see land anymore when we fly out. I even love the long flights because they are now part of Hawaii for me. Next on my list is Molokai and Kauai.

    Sheila – it was great meeting you at the Jake Shimabukuro concert. I’ve been to this site many times and had no idea this was yours when we talked. You do a great job. I’ll be happy to report on anything you need next time my husband and I go to Hawaii!

    • Aloha Wanda!

      Thanks so much for sharing your Hawaii addiction story!

      Have you ever seen the movie “Elf”? There’s a scene in the movie, when Buddy the Elf meets a New York department store employee dressed in an elf-ish costume. After not seeing anyone else in NY that even looks close to an elf, Buddy is amazed. He tells this employee that he’s happy to meet someone else who shares his “affinity for elf culture”. Well, that’s how I felt when I met you and your husband the other night. I was so excited to meet you as you so enthusiastically share my affinity for Hawaii culture (beaches, hotels, etc) :)

      We’ve gotta get you to Kauai to round out your Hawaii island adventures.

      Please come back and comment more often. Stay in touch and let’s share Hawaii stories!

  24. Hello, my name is Ann, I am addicted to Hawaii.

    How exactly it happened I am unsure of. Maybe it was the sunsets, the perfect weather, or possibly the warm water…

    There’s something about Hawaii, Maui in particular, that just stays with you after you leave.

    My children keep asking why we go back to the same place every year; it’s simple really: I know for certain we will enjoy every minute.

    I am addicted and proud. Aloha!

  25. Hi, I saw there was a new notification on here and it reminded me that I never came back to this site after we visited Hawaii for the first time, from the UK back in September 2010. I do apologise….
    So here we go…
    My name is Jane and I am now addicted to Hawaii. !!

    We dream of going back, the flights were long but I would do it again in a heartbeat, if only we could afford to do so. We were on Oahu for 2 nights, stayed at the Outrigger and ate at Dukes and watched amazing sunsets and loved Waikkii. We then went to stay at Waikoloa on BIg Island and fell in love with that too, i too cried when we left and I watched this amazing beautiful place vanish from my sight from the plane window and I now have amazing photos and memories from our holiday and when we can, we will return.
    Jane

  26. Aloha, my name is Terry and I haven’t even been to Maui yet, and I’m already addicted! Now that my hours upon hours of research on a two week visit to Maui in October (my birthday and our 29th wedding anniversary–heck, it’s ALMOST 30!) is winding down, I’m starting to research the other islands. In life, I like to have 2-3 vacations planned out ahead! We’re doing the island on a shoestring budget with a lot of big bang.

    So, here’s the essence of our Maui trip, not necessarily in order save the condo and the car: renting a condo in Kaanapali, renting the smallest car possible to save money, horseback riding on the slopes of Haleakala, an overnight visit to Hana (to enjoy the ride more fully), an all day snorkel adventure to Lanai (so I do get to visit another island!), kayaking with a naturalist and finally, the perfunctory ride up Haleakala for stars and sunrise with a side visit to Kula Lavender Farms of course. With four major activities, I was sure to save lots of room for exploration. I must admit, I splurged a bit on airfare to get a Saturday arrival/Sunday departure, affording us a full weekend in the middle.

    In my childhood, I recall a comment made saying forget the Caribbean, go to Hawaii! Well, I’ve been to the Caribbean a few times now and it does have its attributes — escape from a Western NY winter and plenty of vitamin D.

    For now, every day I get up and do a little net surfing on Hawaii. It helps motivating me to get to work so I can pay for the trip!

    The spirit is calling!

    Mahalo, Terry

  27. Claudia Christensen

    Hello, my name is Claudia Christensen and I am addicted to Hawaii. I was hesitant because everyone told me everything was overpriced which was untrue and it was just so beautifully pleasant. I really have no desire to travel anywhere else but this land of paradise.

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