Hawaii: Spirit of Aloha

kohanaiki resort

We took a trip to the big island of Hawaii in October for my cousin’s wedding. It was a different experience of Hawaii than my previous trip to Maui when I was younger and some of my more recent travels to Oahu (you can find the guide for Oahu here). This was much more relaxed with a lot of great family time. This guide is my aloha spirit guide — how or how not to feel the spirit of aloha in 10 easy steps.

10) Preparation is key. For starters, pick the right place to feel the aloha.

Initially I, of course, planned a “flexible itinerary” before we left, thinking we wouldn’t want to stay our entire time in the resort area, and when I asked my cousin what things he liked to do in Hawaii he told me, “Honestly, I’ve never been outside the resort.” I was really perplexed by this until we arrived and he took us on a golf cart tour. If you’re ever able to go to the Kohanaiki Resort, go. If not, there are a lot of other resorts around, but they might not have “comfort stations” filled with all the best kind of snacks and desserts, a private bowling alley, it’s own movie theater, or the best breakfast buffets. Plus, the views. Love the views. Main point: if you find the right place, you may never need to leave.

kohanaiki resort

9) Remember the essentials…like a credit or debit card might be good.

Yes, I forgot my credit card AND my debit card. Luckily, I at least had my license. And Matt brought his debit card. But renting a car for a couple days was way more expensive than it needed to be because Matt’s younger than 25 so we had to get the extra insurance charge. At least the rental car company was nice and gave us a much nicer car than what we paid for.


8) Take walks and golf cart rides.

I already mentioned the golf carts but these were so fun to roam around in. And especially race with.

kohanaiki resort

7) Watch out for sea urchins

Matt went surfing for the first time with my brother, but the water was really rough, so when he was trying to find coordination, he accidentally stepped on a sea urchin and scraped his foot on a rock. A medic had to come and help him take out some of the sea urchin’s needles which actually became a little souvenir for a couple weeks after the trip — he continued to have to soak his foot and pulled out a needle that was a couple centimeters long! He actually pulled out one as recent as last week. Matt’s a trooper though and danced all night at the wedding.


6) Overestimate hikes.

We opted to go on a 4-mile hike provided by the resort. Johnny was our guide and took us up into the mountains and through a lot of trees and greenery. It was awesome to see another feature of the island, but we really underestimated the length and steepness of the hike! Luckily, we all survived and are still alive to tell the story. The vibrant colors around us were worth the struggle. And I only got a couple bug bites.

hike hawaii

5) Take time to explore and do the things important to you.

Even though you could stay at the resort the entire time and be perfectly content, I was glad we rented a car here (Uber rides were about $50 just to go somewhere within a couple miles!). It gave us the ability to do some of the things on our list that were important to us such as visit the temple, drive out to a lookout point for sunrise and visit a lava tube. One item on my bucket list that we were so close to doing was swimming with manta rays at night — they’re huge! Saving it for next time.

hawaii temple

4) Eat well.

Did I mention the comfort stations and best breakfast buffets? Also, we got some mochi from the store and chocolate covered macadamia nuts (my favorite)! Not to mention dinner at the resort every night was exquisite and usually included a beautiful sunset. The luau was my favorite.


3) Get a double rainbow at your wedding and dance the night away.

Caitlin and Tyler’s wedding was incredible — the weather was perfect, the sunset was perfect, and the double rainbow that showed up at the reception was an added bonus. I haven’t danced so hard so much in a long time.

wilder wedding

2) Wake up for sunrise, always watch the sunset.

I’ve continued to watch the sunrise every day this year, and doing this project in Hawaii was one of the things that motivated me when it got challenging. Worth it. Loved watching the sunrises. But honestly, where we were, the sunsets were the most incredible and vivid.

hawaii sunrise

1) Enjoy your time with people you love.

This vacation provided the best opportunity to celebrate my cousin and his now wife Caitlin, but also be with so many more people we love and miss. Whenever I visit Los Angeles, it’s a little chaotic trying to see as many people as we can in a short amount of time, and this was four days of being able to hang out and enjoy each other’s company without having a bunch of places to be all the time. That, perhaps, was the greatest spirit of aloha I felt the entire trip.


Cheers and aloha!