Hawaii is a place I hold close in my heart. I heard many tales of this magical place growing up. My family had done business there, and my mother had been there many times during this. Although the family business had ended, I was lucky enough to see this place when I was in the fourth grade. Oahu was magical through a nine-year-old girl’s eyes. I spent hours swimming and exploring the island with my great grandparents. I remember touring the pineapple groves and sitting next to a very nice fourth-grade teacher.
Pineapples were a cornerstone of my diet there. We ate pineapple ice cream at Woolworths and fresh pineapple at the International Market. What I will remember most about this trip is the Brady Bunch (one of my favorite shows growing up) went to Hawaii the same year. We stayed in the same hotel they did, but not at the same time. Although I didn’t get cursed or learn how to surf, I got a hula lesson at the Kodiak show.
Then, when I was twelve years old, I went back again with my great grandparents. We stayed in a hut (that was torn down soon after to make way for more hotels) with a path to the beach. I found a Hawaiian lady who was making leis with plumeria flowers along the path. She took the time to show me how to make them, and then I got to keep my work. I spent hours swimming and ended up with the worst sunburn I ever had. For nights after I sprayed myself with water to cool it down and later my shoulders bore freckles of my Hawaiian journey. We picked up some souvenirs at the International Market (now gone) and went to the Polynesian Cultural Center, where we walked through villages while interacting and learning. Then a beautiful show floated by on the river.
My next trip back was on my honeymoon. We explored Oahu: Pearl Harbor, Polynesian Cultural Center, and a Luau. When we weren’t seeing the sights, we hung out on the Waikiki Beach and ate lots of crab Louie and pineapple. Another week was added, and we headed to Maui. Here we drove the famous Hana Drive that took us through all the waterfalls and an amazing black beach that we had to ourselves. Every night in paradise, we sat and watched the sunset.
It was almost 30 years before we went back to Hawaii for our second honeymoon. This time we focused on Kauai and Maui.
On Kauai, we made a point of doing things we’d never done before, including a helicopter tour over Kauai, which produced some amazing views and pictures but also left my husband with a queasy stomach. Next, we took a boat tour to snorkel (my second time ever), and the spinning dolphins and a couple of turtles entertained us. Then we rented a Harley and cruised the south shore of the island, including the spectacular little Grand Canyon. Kauai is an amazing garden island filled with roaming chickens.
We spent week two on Maui. We took the Hana drive again, where I was less brave than I had been on our honeymoon with the narrow road, but it was still just as beautiful as I had remembered it. We explored the town of Lahaina and the Hard Rock Cafe, and other wonderful restaurants. The thing that has the fondest memories was staying at the hotel and lounging around the pool— and snorkeling. We’d get up each morning and suit up for the ocean. There was usually a turtle greeting you at the shore, but we were warned not to touch them it could make them sick. However, the turtle seemed determined to touch me.
Hawaii is truly paradise, full of wonderful people, scenery, and memories. It has become my home away from home and has found its way in An Unusual Island, This Second Chance, and soon to be released, middle grade/ YA Dolphin’s Cave. I’m hoping for an early December release if all goes well.
The Aloha spirit has found residence in me and my work.
Embrace your inner child with the Aloha Spirit in your heart. D. L. Finn