When you visit Hawaii, it’s not just for the beaches, the waves, and the volcanoes. There is something richer that can happen when you authentically ‘Live Aloha.’ And if you tap into what makes these islands so special, you can—whether you stay for a weekend or a month—truly feel at home in paradise. Here are a handful of ways to do that:
1. Know what it means to Live Aloha.
Aloha is a word with many literal translations: hello, goodbye, love. But to the people who live in Hawaii, Aloha isn’t just a salutation or send-off. It’s a way of life. Aloha means sharing your backyard mangoes with the neighbors or inviting a visitor to meet you and your friends at a beach bonfire. In essence it boils down to another Hawaiian word: kokua, which means to help without being asked.
2. Take in the flora and fauna.
Hawaii is 2,500 miles from any other land. As a result, the islands have a particularly unique and fragile ecosystem with over 3,000 native species of plants and animals. One way to see the lush greenery of an island is to fly above it in a helicopter. Another is to visit a farm, a roadside farm stand, or a farmer’s market. With this zoomed in view, you can learn fascinating things about the locally grown tropical foods. For example, did you know that if you bust open a cacao pod, there is a white pulp around each seed that tastes like coconut and chocolate and lemon combined? Now you do.
3. Practice surfing. For real.
It’s one thing to take a single surf lesson during your stay in Hawaii. It’s another to really get serious about it. Wake up early each morning. Borrow a beginner foam board from your host or ask them for the best place to pick one up. And clock some hours bobbing on your surfboard in the open sea. Even if you don’t catch a wave, you just might start to pick up on the magic that has kept surfers coming to these islands for years.
4. Make an ocean-to-table dinner.
There are few things more satisfying than going to the local fish market, buying some freshly caught Ahi, firing up your host’s BBQ on the lanai, and perfecting your grill marks while watching the sun set over the ocean. Of course, going out for a shave ice dessert doesn’t hurt, either.
5. Take an outdoor shower.
No matter which island you visit, there is a longstanding tradition of bathing outdoors, and almost every house has an outdoor shower. Some even have the holy grail of tropical relaxation: an outdoor bath. Whether it’s to simply wash the red dirt (it stains everything!) off your feet after a hike or wash your hair with Awapuhi (a ginger flower that releases natural shampoo when you squeeze it!), there is something indescribable about showering in the sun, in the rain, in the breeze.
6. Find a regular travel route. And place to call home.
As with any destination, the more you visit Hawaii, the more at home you feel. Thanks to a new partnership between Airbnb and Virgin America, you can be rewarded with Elevate points just for booking a home anywhere in the world on Airbnb. And it just so happens that Virgin’s now has non-stop flights from SFO to Honolulu, so if it’s a Hawaiian home-away-from-home that you crave, you can now arrive at your dream destination in record time. (And, of course, get rewarded.)
We happen to know a few spectacular places to hang your sunhat and call home. Book one here.
Insider tip: New Airbnb hosts now receive 20,000 Elevate points, which means your entire trip could be on us. Between the Elevate program and the rewards you receive for becoming a new host on Airbnb, these far off destinations become a lot more attainable, and a whole lot closer to home. For more information, head over here: www.virginamerica.com/cms/elevate-frequent-flyer/partners/hotel-partners/airbnb-booking.