Many people dream of visiting the beautiful islands of Hawaii, saving up their entire lives to make that dream a reality. Of course, it’s never a guarantee, but the tantalizing thoughts of tan lines, sandy hair and a cool ocean breeze make it all worth it.
The story of one man’s dream to visit Hawaii.
It’s a dream that Canada native Jason Johnston has taken a few steps further; he wants to live in Hawaii for a year, and in making this happen, he began a five-year plan appropriately called “Hawaii Four-0.” By 40, he and his family will hopefully be living the dream in Hawaii.
Until then, they’ve been “living into their dream,” as Jason tells us. And we’re talking more than just watching reruns of Lost and Five-0 (which they’ve also done 20-plus times). We’re talking replicating island-inspired dishes, listening to Hawaiian music and spending hours each week researching the islands, its culture and its history. With one year in the bag and several vlogs on YouTube to document his journey, Jason is still just as eager to take the leap across the Pacific. A few years back, he and his wife got a tiny taste of the aloha spirit when they visited Oahu for 11 days; now, they’re ready to indulge in an entire year’s worth of island living.
Let’s check in with Jason to learn more about “Hawaii Four-0” and how his dream may inspire others to do the same.
Hawaii Vacation Blog: In a nutshell, what is “Hawaii Four-0?”
JJ: Hawaii Four-0 is about a guy who basically hit rock bottom and needed to find purpose again. I was in debt, overweight, unemployed, injured, living in a one-bedroom apartment and expecting a child. On my 35th birthday, I went to my favorite spot at the (Canadian) airport and gave the most honest performance of my life. I spoke from my heart and recorded a video in one take. That’s when I decided I needed a five-year plan.
That “honest performance” became the intro video to “Hawaii Four-0.”
HVB: What kind of feedback do you get from people who visit your YouTube channel?
JJ: Despite not having that many followers, I have had an overwhelming amount of positive feedback from people. I’ve had a lot of people tell me they’ve found my videos inspirational. For me, it’s about keeping my dream alive.
HVB: How can this channel help others hoping to visit or move to Hawaii?
JJ: For people that want to visit Hawaii, I hope that they can see what a profound impact it has had on my life, and how much the aloha spirit has changed my life. Going to Hawaii has really made me appreciate a lot more in life and has opened my eyes to how beautiful the world really is. I hope to…educate like-minded people to see my struggles, ups and downs and learn from my mistakes.
HVB: I understand you were injured in a hockey accident several years ago and had to put your initial plans of visiting Hawaii on hold. Exactly how did the show “Lost” help with your recovery?
JJ: For me, Lost is more than a show…it probably saved my life. When I was injured and stuck in bed for a year, my wife was the biggest reason I got through it. (But) like the characters on the show, I was lost, too…I was home alone all day, and Lost is what kept me from giving up. At its core, Lost is a character story about people who have all very unique and different problems in their lives. I found I was able to relate, and it inspired my desire to visit Hawaii and see the Lost filming locations.
HVB: And how has Hawaii motivated you during that long road to recovery?
JJ: What started the road to recovery was a picture of the final flight of stairs to the top of the Diamond Head lookout. I placed this picture at the top of the staircase in my building and dreamed of the day that I would one day get to climb those stairs. When I first started climbing the stairs in my building, I was only able to go from the top to the bottom, once. By the time our trip to Hawaii came around, I was able to climb 40 times. This is why I took the photo with me to Hawaii.
This flight of stairs on the Diamond Head hike motivated Jason to lose weight after his injury.
HVB: What kinds of fun things did you and your wife do when you visited Oahu?
JJ: It was largely due to my friends that we were even able to go. They had been to Hawaii a few times before and know the island very well; before we even landed, our itinerary was set. We visited Diamond Head, Hanauma Bay, the Pali lookout, Kualoa Ranch, Haleiwa, Sandy Beach, the Dole Plantation, Kos Tours (Lost adventure) Downtown Honolulu, North Shore, Waikiki and Kaena Point (my favorite day of the trip).
HVB: What makes your wife an awesome travel buddy?
JJ: For me, there is nobody I’d rather spend my time with. My favorite moments always come when it’s just the two of us. We share the same interests, like the same foods, but most of all, we both compromise and visit attractions that one or the other may be interested in. Now that we have a daughter, there is no “two” people I’d rather spend my time with.
Jason and his wife, Kristina, visiting the west side of Oahu during their first trip to Hawaii.
HVB: Congrats on the newest addition to the Johnston ohana! You must feel so blessed!
JJ: We do feel very blessed. This why I want her to have the opportunity…of growing up in Hawaii…I hope she gets the chance to enjoy Hawaii while she is young, which took me 35 years to figure out.
Proud parents with daughter, Reese. They’re hope is to bring her to Hawaii!
Photos Courtesy: Jason Johnston; Chris Nemeth and Dawn Moniz (last photo)