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  • Diana

Aloha From Hawaii

My mom's high school graduation gift to me was "a trip to anywhere I wanted." I thought this was my ticket to Hawaii, my dream vacation, but I found myself in Florida for a family getaway instead. My mom always said, "find a man who will take you to Hawaii!" So, I did just that. Within the first year of dating Josh, his Army unit was assigned duty in Hawaii for two weeks. I was the luckiest girl in the world because not only did I find a man to take me to Hawaii, but this was my true ticket to The Aloha State!

When I arrived in Honolulu, I was greeted by sunshine, an airport with no walls and I went back in time six hours. We took a 15 minute taxi ride to Hale Koa Hotel and stayed there for the next four nights. Hale Koa Hotel is for military families and pricing is based on military rank. The resort is just like any normal civilian hotel - it includes a variety of dining options, multiple pools, an exercise center and Waikiki Beach in its back yard. Waikiki is tourist central and it's thought to be a mini NYC because it's lined with restaurants, up style businesses and trinket shops. However, you will find some of Hawaii's biggest waves at Sandy Beach Park, so hold onto your shopping bags!

If you're looking to experience the Hawaiian culture, I suggest traveling to the North Shore to witness the Seven Mile Miracle. Sandy beaches kiss transparent blue waters for seven miles, showing off Hawaii's beauty and grandiosity. This majestic section of Honolulu is home to surf worthy big waves and stunning sunsets at Sunset Beach Park, food trucks featuring Hawaiian staples and turtles worth swimming with at Three Tables Beach. If you make the trip to the North Shore, I recommend stopping at the Dole Plantation for irresistible Dole Whip before your travels end at Turtle Bay Resort. This hotel is everything you would imagine a $400/night resort to be like. The hospitality, daily breakfast, lounge options and event space is as stunning as the mountains that grace the Hawaiian skyline.

I suggest venturing off the resort to explore the island's delicacies. Although you will have a 4:00 am wakeup call, completing the Lanikai Pill Box Hike will allow you to experience history and watch the sun rise over the entire island. Once at the top, you will be greeted by cement structures that were used in WWII for observation purposes and the most beautiful panoramic view. Tripler Ridge Trailhead is another hike available to military families. If you're brave enough to witness one of the most scenic views of greenery on this hike, you will need to complete it during the day because you will walk through trees, brush and even wild hogs at night.

Scuba diving in Hawaii is one of the most courageous things I ever did. Although we didn't have any diving experience, the Honolulu Scuba Company made us feel comfortable and educated. We were lucky to swim to the depths of about 50-60 feet and saw sharks, large turtles and marine life that you only see in movies. It's easy to become blindsided from what is on the outside of our own bubble. Diving opened my eyes to a completely different world in the Pacific Ocean and it put the things around me in perspective.

My attraction to Hawaii at 13 years old can be attributed to the care free lifestyle that blows in the wind from island to island. We met a dog joyfully fetching a stick at the beach one day. The dog's owner proudly said that his golden retriever was 25 years old. If a dog can live this long in Hawaii, just imagine the type of life we could live if we embodied the aloha spirit every day.

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