The year 2012 turned out to be a special one for Hawaii. Whales showed up a few months early, and Madame Pele created quite the spectacle when her lava met with the ocean for the first time in years. And while the tourism industry saw promising numbers, it also saw change. Change that didn’t come as a result of the so-called Mayan Apocalypse, but rather a result of more and more hotels opting out of the room service luxury.

Moreover, it was the luxury of living through specific moments that also made 2012 so memorable. For me, it’d have to be my first time traveling out of the country. Our summer surf trip to Australia not only showed me just how massive that continent is but also how much aloha lives on in other parts of the world. Oz turned out to be a home away from home for us that I can’t wait to one day revisit.

This blog has also become a home away from home for me because no matter where in the world I may have been this year, I was always able to stay connected to the islands through each post. It’s amazing how far words can travel, even thousands of miles from my true home in Hawaii. Every comment, every post and every Tweet have made this journey an enjoyable ride that I know our bloggers can attest to as well. Like me, they’ve shared their experiences of Hawaii month after month – as told by people who live in Hawaii; people who have embraced the unique culture and persity found nowhere else in the world.

Here what they have to say about their most memorable moments of 2012:

Memorable Moroccan Dinner – Cindy

For me, the most memorable moment of 2012 was the closing dinner of a visit by a delegation from Morocco to Hawaii. During their visit, five memoranda of agreement between the state and the North African nation were signed, including one to encourage tourism.

The week-long visit included speeches, lunches and this magnificent dinner at Ko Olina. We took a tour bus from Downtown that was hired for the occasion. The visiting professors and dignitaries loved seeing Hawaii! And the people from Morocco or other North African nations who live in Hawaii loved showing off their state.

This fit well with my studies of Islamic philosophy and my favorite local attraction, Shangri-La. But the best moment of THAT moment came from the governor of the state that houses the capitol city of Rabat. When people address one another in Arabic, they begin with “ya,“ as “Ya Cindy, how are you?” The governor attempted the Hawaii welcome of “AloooooHA!, but it came out “AloooYA!” — an inadvertently perfect combination of cultures.

The new year for my ohana (family) will begin with visits from three sets of friends and relatives. For two of them, this will be their first visit to the islands. Like those at the delegation who live in Hawaii, I continue to enjoy sharing the islands with family and friends and seeing the state anew through their eyes.

Memorable Staycations – Katherine

A year of staycations’ is how I would describe my 2012. Because I had not left Oahu (except for the mainland) for two years, I decided I had to break that spell and see more of the state. First came Maui to see the whale migration during the winter months. This way, we got up closer to the whales and had front row seats on the craft.

In June, I went to the Big Island for a five-day visit so I could see both the Kona and Hilo sides. It takes at least this long to be able to do this. I have to say that the Big Island is my favorite island to visit because of its persity in climate and activities. The night hike over lava fields to see the lava flows up close was one of the most exciting things I’ve done in a very long time.

Finishing it out, I went to Kauai in August to take a boat tour of the famous Na Pali Coast and visit Waimea Canyon. I prefer Kauai during the winter than the summer. You will see more waterfalls and realize that its lushness is in its vast green mountainscapes.

Hau’oli Makahiki Hou from the Hawaii Vacation Blog!

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