In honor of Huffington Post Hawaii launching, I want to share a few of my own thoughts on what makes Hawaii so special to me. I've visited Hawaii four times, and treasure the island life as well as considered moving there more than a few times. I know I'm not alone in my love for this tropical paradise in the Pacific.
There are more than palm trees and pineapples to this chain of islands. The Hawaiian people are culturally diverse and even in an age of technology, they manage to stay in touch with their past by celebrating the traditions. From food to clothing to the bustling tourism industry, Hawaii maintains its heritage with guests to the islands through their giving nature of the spirit of aloha.
The people of Hawaii welcome visitors from around the world who are looking for that tropical escape that their pristine beaches and trade winds provide, each island offering a unique view of island life. From volcanoes to mountains to the beaches, the islands have something for everyone. The cooler weather of the rural inland areas offer land rich for farming and ranching. The warm coastal areas keep you within steps of one of the almost 400 beaches that are all public in the state of Hawaii. The islands appeal to many looking for a true island experience or a getaway with top notch service and resorts. Thousands move there annually seeking the good life -- a more relaxing, less chaotic life.
The pace in Hawaii is slower because they savor each day, appreciating the beauty that surrounds them. It may take a few days for mainlanders to unwind, but once they do, they too enjoy the hang loose state of mind that the locals have mastered.
With each visit to the islands, I personally enjoy doing a certain amount of tourist attractions such as eating at Giovanni's Shrimp Truck or having a cocktail at Jameson's By The Sea with that incredible view. Climbing Diamond Head gives you a great workout and a stunning view as a reward. But I also like to visit local markets and stores. Both offer a variety of products or foods that I can't get back home. The coffee plantations are great to visit and discovering off-the-beaten-path burger joints have always been fun.
(Shopping Tip: Wanting to buy every family member and friend a gift from Hawaii is kind, but with current airline fees on heavy and/or additional bags cause most us to pause before buying local goods. But you can shop the islands without worry. The shipping costs to the mainland is the same as when you're back home, so shop away, skip the airlines, and ship it home.)
The change in scenery that you get in the islands provides a mental escape as much as a physical vacation from your daily grind, so when visiting, take a deep breath and slow down long enough to appreciate the beauty that makes us the chain of eight islands.
My own passion for Hawaii goes beyond my past vacations. I've brought that Aloha Spirit into my own life by using the pineapple as a welcoming symbol throughout my home. My dogs are named Maui and Tiki in honor of our love of Hawaii. I've also written a series about a young woman vacationing in Hawaii for the summer who meets the local heartthrob surfer. Along with discovering paradise, they find love set among the beauty of these tropical islands.
I've shared my love of the islands and what makes them so special to me. Now share your thoughts by commenting here or tweeting @HuffPostHawaii to tell everyone what Hawaii means to you and make sure to use #AlohaHuffPost.
If you can't visit Hawaii, escape to the islands in my book, Good Vibrations, which is out now. In honor of the new Hawaii Huffington Post, it's also on sale. Good Intentions, the sequel, releases on September 9, 2013.