This may sound silly, but the other day, I had a sudden realization of how amazing Hawaii is. Of course, those of you not from here must be wondering what planet I’ve been living on; the thing is, I’ve been living right here, in” Paradise,” my entire life but only recently have I succumbed to its beauty.

The same could go for anyone who gets caught up with the daily grind, checking off things on your to-do list without stopping to appreciate what’s around you; whether it be lush, green mountains or an expanse of skyscrapers and city lights, take a moment for yourself. When on your Hawaii vacation, try not to get too consumed in your guide books; instead, experience Hawaii in real life.

By “real life,” I mean, letting the trade winds brush against your cheeks, feeling each tiny grain of sand between your toes and enjoying a Hawaiian sunset with your eyes and not just your camera. Experience what a guide book can’t convey through text and pages. Hawaii is one of those places where you can go from the mountains to the ocean (or vice versa) in a single day, enjoying two completely different worlds that are beautiful in their own way.

It’s actually really easy to do this; in fact, it’s what inspired me to write this story. The other day, I spent the earlier part of the morning hiking Mariner’s Ridge. It took us to the top of the Koolau mountain range, where we enjoyed one of the most gorgeous views of the island – a full panorama of Oahu’s windward coast. Then we made our way down into the city and, of course, refueled with some delicious local food. And as if that picturesque view of the island hadn’t been enough, we ended the day surfing one of my favorite waves during the golden hour at sunset…C’mon now! It really doesn’t get better than this, and for that, I am so very thankful. Hawaii no ka oi! (Hawaii is the best!)

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