Basking under the Hawaiian sunlight

Stephanie Toussaint/File

I took my first trip to Hawaii when I turned 13 years old. My recollections of the stay are mostly blurry, consisting of postcard-like palm trees, an abundance of snow-white pigeons, beautifully dressed hula dancers and an array of Hawaiian flowers of all colors. I am still able to recall in vivid detail the volcanic mountains of the Ko’olau Range sailing over the Pacific coast of O’ahu. I was completely enthralled by Hawaii’s natural beauty.

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Stephanie Toussaint/Staff

Six years after my first visit, I was blessed with the chance to relive my childhood memories in this mesmerising island. Because I was unswervingly anticipating the trip, when I finally arrived at Hawaii, I was able to savor every moment of my stay and scrutinize every gem the island has to offer. I appreciated the exotic parts of nature I had once overlooked as a child. Climbing to the top of Diamond Head was definitely one of the highlights of my trip because the view at the top of the mountain was absolutely splendid. The picturesque scenery of the entire southern coast of O’ahu was simply breathtaking. 

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Stephanie Toussaint/Staff

Throughout my trip, I met many locals who worked on the island. To my surprise, most of them were actually from the “mainland,” which is the way Hawaiians referred to the North American continent. I heard two amusingly similar stories from a middle-aged bartender and a hotel manager, who both told me they moved from New York to Hawaii. Although they have never met each other, they went to Waikiki Beach on vacation in their early twenties in hopes of avoiding the New York’s harsh winter. Ultimately, they both decided to stay in Hawaii indefinitely. Of course, I was curious and asked why. Although they were both so sure that they made the right decision, neither could give me a logically sound reason on why they decided to stay. The bartender simply smiled and shrugged while the manager admitted that she “simply fell in love with Hawaii.” Did the hula dancers possess mystical powers that could spellbind tourists into making Hawaii their homes? Or was it Hawaii’s scenic beauty that compelled visitors to prolong their stay?

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Stephanie Toussaint/Staff

During my last evening in Hawaii, my parents and I decided to watch the sunset on Waikiki Beach. Something about oceans always inspires me, and seeing the colors of the sky above alter before my eyes made the experience a million times more magical. The perfect Hawaiian temperature is around dinnertime because of the combination of the cool breeze with the abating heat. As we started to make our way back to our rooms, one of our hotel managers told us that a firework show was about to take place in the evening at the beach. Once it turned dark, we made our way back to the beach and found a spot among other visitors. The fireworks lasted around a quarter of an hour. We were sitting way closer to the fireworks than I had anticipated and I felt as if we were right beneath them. Watching the fireworks soar toward the sky and trickle down onto the sea was an amazing experience. Their successive blasting noises gave me a rush of excitement. As I admired the poignant colors of the fireworks, I reflected on all the marvels of Hawaii all at once, and was left in awe. 

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