I’m Back From Hawaii! Here’s What I Learned

Aloha friends! Long time no blog talk. How have you been? Why is it fall already. My body is incredibly confused by the drastic change in temperature and humidity. From palm trees swaying in a warm, Hawaiian ocean breeze to golden aspens fluttering in wafts of crisp pine air: talk about a delicious sensory overload!

Although I’m experiencing the usual post-vacation blues and 525 emails in my work inbox – seriously. No joke. 525.  I’m somewhat relieved to be home and transitioning back into my usual mountain routine…. and reuniting with my boyfriend. I missed him so much! We’re going away on a mini-vacay together next week. To Manitoba. HAHAHA. FML. Kidding… kind of. Heh.

I ended up meeting and hanging out with some cool locals and travelers in Oahu. I always connect with the most interesting (and fun!) people along my journey. From midnight soul chats on Waikiki beach with a tour bus driver named William to a night on the town with the cutest couple from the UK (Jade & Kyle!), it was a blasty-blast.

Since I micro-blogged a lot of stuff on Instagram (@livingmintgreen), I won’t recap everything in detail on the blog. Here’s an overview of my favorite highlights of Oahu.

Where I stayed:

Marriott Waikiki Beach Resort & Spa <— amazing location – situated right on Waikiki beach.

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Marriott Courtyard on the North Shore <— brand new hotel, good North Shore base camp and essentially just a place to sleep. The hotel is very simple and has everything you need, but it’s not a place to hang out.

Where to stay, what to eat & what to do in Oahu! via @livingmintgreen

Where and what I ate:

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Honolulu:

Hawaii’s Favorite Kitchens for ah-mazing poke bowls

Morimoto Waikiki – after reading great reviews online, I was expecting a crazy-good sushi/asian fusion experience but it ended up being very ‘meh’. It was like they were trying too hard, if that makes sense? I wouldn’t go out of my way to eat here again. Other than the oyster foie gras, I can’t remember what I ate.

The Shorebird – a local Waikiki favorite. It’s a lively open air beachfront barbecue joint where you grill your own food. One night, our group enjoyed a night on the town and had dinner here. I feasted on mahi mahi, lots of salad, pineapple and about 80 mai-tais. I didn’t make it to bed until after 2am this night. Ha!

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Roy’s Waikiki – Guaranteed awesome food. It’s impossible to have a bad meal at Roy’s and if you’re a long time reader of my blog, you know how much I love this restaurant. Additionally, their melting hot chocolate souffle is my favorite dessert EVER. I need my future wedding cake to be topped with one.

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North Shore:

Roy’s Beach House at Turtle Bay Resort

Bansai Bowls at Sunset Beach. So much yum. I literally ate three pitaya bowls in less than 24 hours. Order the  the V-Land bowl with coconut milk, then add coconut shreds and mango. And maybe some peanut butter if you’re feeling fancy or extra hungry.

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Crispy Grindz food truck at Pipeline Beach for acai and of course, pitaya bowls. Mmmm!

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Haleiwa Beach House in Haleiwa: seafood and lilikoi cheesecake

Foodland’s deli for poke. Parking lot breakfasts on the hood of the Jeep. Yes.

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Dole Plantation for pineapple whip waffle cones. Mmm, lick.  It’s like a cross between soft serve ice cream and sorbet. Not too sweet and dairy-free! This was my lunch one day.

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My favorite Oahu moments:

-Late night skinny dipping in Waikiki (Hi, Mom!) don’t worry, no one saw me. I took my swim suit off once I was IN the water

-Chatting with William on the beach at 1am. We talked about life and I asked him where he thinks ‘home’ should be. He said, “Home is wherever your heart is. It’s  about who you’re with and where you’re most happy”  Word.  At one point I asked him which North Shore beaches were ‘the best’ and his response was, “The waves there are MESSED UP.” Actually, he used the f word.

Me: “Which hikes are good?”
Him: “Um, black people don’t hike”

Oh did he ever he made me laugh.

-Taking a surf lesson and surprising myself with how well I did! It turns out I have pretty good balance after all. I also acquired the worst sunburn of my life on this day. I missed some sunscreen application spots on my butt cheeks. Let’s just say it still hurts to sit down and I am peeling profusely.

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-Snorkeling at Haunauma Bay

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-Exploring Waimea Valley and going for a swim in a freshwater waterfall

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-Cruising along the east coast  with the Jeep’s top down, music blasting and making several stops along the way to take in the scenery of the windward side of Oahu

-The incredible views from the top of Diamond Head crater. Whoa

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-Chill, relaxing beach days at Sunset and Pipeline beach on the North Shore. When I’d get hungry, I’d eat a pitaya bowl. When I’d get too hot, I’d take a dip in the cool, refreshing surf. Perfect.

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-Hiking through the rainforest and ascending into the clouds while picking fresh guavas along the way

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-Walking up and down the streets of Waikiki and stopping for frequent swims. Night time in the city was a lot of fun too!

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-Jumping off the rocks at Waimea Bay

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-This sacred, energetic hot spot I felt incredibly drawn to. The hair on the back of my neck and arms stood up when I was here. I literally felt my body vibrating!

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What I learned:

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Oahu isn’t as busy as I anticipated. Perhaps I’m used to the tourist crowds, or maybe I chose a perfect time to visit: immediately after  Labor Day when the kids are back to school and tourism is transitioning into a brief shoulder season. I didn’t dislike Waikiki at all! I thought it was a fun, lively and a wonderful mix of beach and city. Totally loved it. I spent a few nights in Waikiki, then headed off to the world famous North Shore for the rest of the trip. It was the perfect blend of energetic liveliness and relaxing solitude.  When I wanted to get away from people, I simply walked or drove away from them like I do here in the mountains. What a concept, hey gang!?

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No crowds here!

This trip was very much a soul-quest and exploration for me. In the months leading up to my departure, I experienced vivid, recurring dreams of Hawaii. Immediately upon my arrival,  precise contents of my dreams came to fruition, occurring in the simplest moments. Driving through a rural neighborhood on the North Shore or carrying a surfboard through Waikiki. It was eerily familiar. My soul leapt with excitement when it recognized my surroundings. “I’ve been here! This was in my dream! I know where to go!” I thought to myself. For whatever reason, and for one  that I can’t understand right now, the magnetism of Oahu called me there for a reason.  I have a feeling I’m going to live there someday. It’s not so much a matter of “if” but rather “WHEN”…. although I hope it’s sooner rather than later. I just need someone to help a Canadian gal out with a job offer and/or visa sponsorship! 🙂

Another oddity of this trip: I instinctively knew ‘where to go’ no matter where I was. It was like my Google Maps was inside me – haha!

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My vacation gave me the chance to step away from my current life back home and re-evaluate my desires. Where I’m heading and where I’d like to go. I didn’t run, work out or focus on eating ‘clean’. I went days without eating a single vegetable and drank several tropical-themed cocktails. I ate dessert every night. I didn’t drink “enough” water.  If I wasn’t hungry at breakfast, I didn’t eat.  I didn’t brush my hair or wear makeup.  When my body craved movement, I went for a walk along the beach or a dip in the ocean. Some days, I just laid in the sand and did… nothing. It was all very intuitive. Oddly enough, my work pants feel looser?!

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Life isn’t ‘perfect’ in paradise. Living in the mountains has the same issues as Hawaii. Remote, beautiful locations = a much higher cost of living and economies centered around tourism. Your hard earned dollars don’t go very far. For most of us regular middle-income folks, the trade off to living in paradise comes with not being able to afford your own home with a sprawling yard to house 2.5 kids and a golden retriever. Instead, you rent a small apartment (usually with roommates) and your backyard is the ocean or a national park of mountains.  It truly comes down to deciding what’s most important and authentic to you. Over the past year, I’ve been struggling a bit with the idea that I need to “choose” one path: either finding a “sensible” place to call home and seriously consider creating a family  OR to continue with my life of adventure and grandest vision: moving around every 3-4 years and trying something new. Preferably with a life partner, but I know those finer details (like relationships and “who” you’re supposed to share the journey with) tend to work themselves out no matter which path you take.

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I suppose part of my struggle resided in the stressful thoughts that  I needed to choose one. I think you can have it all, but certainly not all at once. For now, I want to continue following my natural curiosity and adventure instincts to see where this wild life ride can take me! 🙂  When I follow my heart, life tends to exceed my expectations. I’m guilty of needlessly winding myself up over ‘making the wrong decision’ and I’ve decided to let myself off the hook, relax and move towards what feels right for me.

Over to you:

Last vacation you went on? Where are you going next?

Have you struggled with choosing ‘a life path’ or determining what’s right for you?

24 thoughts on “I’m Back From Hawaii! Here’s What I Learned

  1. I think my last big vacation (like getting on a plane and getting out of the country) was also to Hawaii. It was almost 5 years ago and I desperately need another.

    While part of my path has been chosen for me, with Liam coming into my life, I still have a hard time knowing where I should be in life. And as I approach my 30th birthday, it’s really weighing on me. What could I be doing better/different, how can I improve my life so that I can be on a path of happiness and adventure instead of monotony.

    • I hear ya. It’s funny how we crave routine, yet loathe it at the same time. I believe boredom is one of the causes of unhappiness. I think it’s learning to be okay with monotony, but keeping your brain stimulated and always learning/seeking new experiences.

  2. I’m still struggling with my life direction. I’ve been struggling with it all my life. So right now, I am testing out the waters and figuring out where to go next, but in a shorter-term way. Right now, I am just trying to be happy and work towards being a mom.

    • There’s a great lesson from a book called A Course in Miracles that teaches, “When you’re certain of the outcome, you can afford to wait, and wait without anxiety”. Ain’t that the truth!? I think part of our struggle comes when we KNOW where we’re going/want to be, but we get impatient. At least I do. I want what I want right now!

  3. We all struggle. I think your last paragraph hit it right – the stressful part is believing you need to choose. I’ve lived & worked in several different places the last few years; but I never did it to move or to be some ‘gypsy’. If you’re doing it because it seems ‘wild and free’, don’t let that be your motivation. Stay grounded & humble and do it because you feel you want a new experience, a new job, new location (ocean, mountains, whatever). I’ve always known when it was time to move because I wasn’t gaining anything more – professional and personal growth stagnated – from the place or me not able to change to meet the place. To stay would have been smarter on my bank account in some situations – and in others worse – but I knew I wasn’t advancing any further. Moving can be overrated too though – a place to call home and earning a steady paycheck/savings is pretty important (I’m realizing that now). But if you follow your heart and senses, you’ll know what to do when the time is right/up.

  4. I had so much fun living vicariously through you! Hawaii is truly magical. I seriously considered just never leaving when I was there. I do struggle with the life path thing, but I try to look at it as an ongoing process. Also, I try not to overthink things (hahahah, but I do) and instead go with my gut. Lately, I’ve realized I want to make some really big changes in terms of what I do and where I live, etc. Now to actually do it! Yikes. 🙂

    • Oh I’m SO excited to see what you create and where you’ll go. Keep me posted!
      My friends/coworkers are actually shocked that I came back from Hawaii. The other day, I realized I forgot my hairbrush there and I said to the BF, “I forgot my brush. I guess I’m going to have to go back and get it.” He said he was going to come with to actually make sure I retrieve it. Haha

  5. Your trip looked amazing! I also have to say–you looked so at peace and happy. Your blog posts always inspire me to get a little more soulful and explore myself, something that I’ve always shied away from. Thank you for your openness and honesty. Interesting too about what you wrote about your “intuitive eating/exercise” approach during your time in Hawaii. How do you plan to take that forward, in terms of your current lifestyle?

    • Thank you, Eliza! I definitely felt overwhelming peace while I was there. A feeling of where I’m supposed to be. 🙂

      Re: my current lifestyle. That is a great question! I think I already do a pretty good job of eating intuitively and for vitality, but treating myself a few times a week. I feel great when I’m eating well and that in itself is my main motivation. That said, this past summer I’ve taken a much more relaxed approach to my diet. I find being in a new relationship involves a LOT of enjoying treats together, eating out, etc. We sure do love our ice cream, haha

      So, to answer your question, I don’t really plan on changing anything in terms of diet, but I can feel my body transitioning into a time of rest and craving movement like strength training, walking, easy hikes and yoga. I’m even considering taking up Crossfit a couple times a week later this fall/winter. Sweaty high intensity cardio (like running) is NOT appealing to me at all right now!

  6. I want to meet William, haha! I had to look up the spiritual nation of ku. I’m still not sure I understand, but find it cool that it was tangible to you. I felt a very spiritual resonance through this entire post that kinda felt neat.

    • He was such a fun guy! If you ever find yourself on Oahu, you can find him in Waikiki at night!

  7. Don’t think that to start a family you need to “settle”- kids are amazingly adaptable and they’ll probably appreciate a life of adventure and something out of the ordinary. You do what feels best and follow that internal compass of yours. Trust me- nothing is worse than feeling stuck!

    P.S. I am craving Hawaii so bad now! North shore is where my family lives and where I visit when I do go and I absolutely love it up there!

    • It’s not that I think I’d be settling… I meant that it’s really hard to settle down and create a family while living in paradise because of the extremely high cost of living. I know anything is possible, but the reality for a lot of folks is that they end up moving away when it comes time to start a family. And I am definitely NOT ready to give that up – yet. 🙂

  8. Hey so your coming to Winnipeg??? Thats always fun!!! Any particular plans or things your hitting up?
    I felt a great and deep connection with this post and just wanted to thank you for opening up my heart to that exact same conversation…. What life do I want?

    • Yes I am! Aside from a wedding, I have no idea what we’re doing. The dude has a bunch of stuff planned, but I’m guessing eating a lot of stuff!

  9. Hope the emails are a bit better under control. And at least you have Manitoba to look forward to…? Haha. Sounds like an amazing trip! I am impressed you went alone as well.

    I question where I live all the time, especially with my family being back in Toronto and yet me loving Vancouver and the west coast lifestyle so much.

    After sort of ending up doing random things the past couple years… moving to Vancouver to do my Masters, taking a job in the liquor industry, I think I’ve slowly let go of choosing one path and stopped trying to predict things! That’s also why I find goal setting so challenging sometimes – that balance of setting goals and being driven but also not trying to plan out things so rigidly.

  10. I’d say 10 years ago I was Captain Life Path; it didn’t go as planned and now I have zero plans. Just kind of go with the flow…which isn’t working out too well atm, but hopefully it’ll turn around soon. I’m craving a move but working from home means it’s very (VERY) hard to make friends in new places and so debate just staying put.
    Hoping my mini-vacay to Chicago next month is just enough of what I need to get out of my funk then I suppose I’ll just hunker down and wait for winter to be over.

  11. Hey Jo!

    Just wondering if you thought about doing the Stairway to Heaven hike while in Oahu at all?

    Thanks 🙂

    • Hey Blair,

      I definitely wanted to/planned on it but a. I ran out of time and b. a local hiking dude (who invited me to his weekly hiking club, haha) said it wasn’t worth it and suggested a bunch of better hikes – like Mt Olympus!!

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