On our first ten-day trip to Hawaii, we rode a shuttle bus to our Honolulu hotel with a fellow New Zealand family. We had one of those brief conversations that stick with you forever: not because anything explicitly profound was said, but because it opened our eyes to a new way of travel which we would end up following too. They were a farming couple from a rural part of the South Island of New Zealand who escaped a month or two of their harsh winter by coming to Hawaii. They were avid windsurfers and kept returning to the same little vacation rental house in Maui each year. They had grown to know a community of friends over there and sometimes had others from New Zealand come over and join them too. They hadn’t grown tired of traveling to the same place: it was their nineteenth year and they were still bursting full of excitement. These are the best types of travelers to bump into: the ones which fill you with anticipation and happiness. The four of them got off the bus to have their one night in a Honolulu hotel before flying to Maui, and we were dropped at our hotel. I often wonder about that family and how many years that their count is up to now.
Later we reflected on their tradition and wondered, why would they return over and over again when there are so many incredible places to explore around the world? Wouldn’t they get tired of it? Wouldn’t there be nothing new to discover?
The simple answer is “Because Hawaii.” Escaping winter, feeling the warm sunshine on your skin and getting that high-dose Vitamin D is incredible. Hawaii always delivers with its weather. (Sadly, Fiji was overcast and rained for every day but one on our only mid-winter vacation there.) Aside from offering resorts, gorgeous scenery, beaches, mountains, waterfalls and every outdoor sport and activity you can imagine, the islands have fantastic shopping and first-world facilities such as high-speed internet – essential when you’re working online while traveling.
There is more to the answer than that. There is something magical about returning to a place you love that grows over time. Your memories of the place are layered on top of other memories, on top of other memories. The place becomes a second home. I suppose that is why so many families have vacation cottages or holiday homes they keep returning to. These places hold treasured memories of carefree childhood summers where the sunlight hours were long and time went by slowly. The place is meaningful because we’ve wanted it to be, and we’ve spent countless hours there. The place is talked about by your children as if it’s just around the corner, and the little ones at home get confused about why they can’t go to the beach in Hawaii again tomorrow. You can imagine what life is like for people who are there when you’re not there. You feel like you are leaving a piece of your heart behind when you leave and you silently promise yourself you will be back as the plane’s last wheels let go of the runway as you return back home.
This is why we love to return over and over again to Hawaii, even when there are so many incredible places to explore around the world. We don’t get tired of it. There are always new things to discover. Part of the year for our family is anticipating the next time we are there. It is a wonderful part of our family culture, and I bet it was for this other family too.
I imagine my husband and me 11 years from now, having this same conversation with another family, this time playing the reverse role. It makes me smile.