Hawaii please be my best friend

One of the earliest memories of my childhood, from the wee baby age of two, is that of my parents and grandparents leaving for a trip to Hawaii.  Without me.  It was 1979 and the memory is still crystal clear: on my parent’s old gravel driveway under the carport, I wove in and out of all the adult legs I could find, pleading my case for a tropical vacation while the grown-ups loaded suitcases into the old Volkswagen.

I was two.

Hawaii'an beach

They left me of course, even though I promised I could be super quiet on the plane, that I would sit completely still on my grandfather’s lap the whole way there.  I promised I wouldn’t eat very much food, and proffered my deep love for the mysterious unseen land of Hawaii.  I tearfully explained to my grandfather that if my little sister, my non-stop-screaming-brand-new-infant-sister was going to Hawaii with the grown-ups, I should be going too.  I quietly vowed to him that I wouldn’t even cry at all.

My grandfather locked sad eyes with me as the car backed out of the long driveway, waving and honking as he and my grandmother, my parents and my screeching newborn sister headed for the Salt Lake City airport to catch their flight to Hawaii.

Hawaii sand

My grandfather never got over it.  He and my grandmother spent the next 20 years telling me how much they regretted not taking me with them to Hawaii in 1979, how it broke their hearts the whole trip thinking about me and that, yes in fact, my baby sister did cry wail screech like a howler monkey the entire vacation.

I never got over it.  In fact, I spent the intervening 32 years of my life dreaming about Hawaii.  Literally, dreaming about it at night.  Imagining what it’s like in Hawaii.  What the air tastes like, how the flowers smell, what the sand would feel like between my toes next to that beautiful ocean.

In fact in my last year of college, I took an anthropology class about all the Polynesian islands which only aided and abetted my obsession with that mysterious, fantastical, mythical place called Hawaii.  It deepened my resolve to make it to Hawaii before I die:

Life List #6: Visit Hawaii. Stay in a hotel close enough to the ocean to hear the waves crash.

Hawaii be my best friend

Mission accomplished. 

Last week I spent a brief 72 hours in Hawaii and my time there was made of magic and fairy dust and breathtaking sunsets over the ocean.  The photo above is the view I had from the balcony of my hotel room at Turtle Bay.  For realsies.  I slept with my window open every night and was lulled to sleep by the sound of the crashing waves.  Hawaii is actually there you guys!  It’s an actual place in the middle of the Pacific Ocean!  And it smells of gardenia mixed with green and ocean and beautiful.

surfing in Hawaii

Hawaii is exactly, EXACTLY the ethereal land of magic I’ve been dreaming of for 32 years, and that is no small feat.

The Hans Hedemann surf school helped me surf my first big wave, I snorkeled with sea turtles, kayaked above a coral reef, and learned to hula at the Polynesian Cultural Center.  That’s not even all of it, but we can talk about the rest later when I’ve recovered from the fact that I’m still a white girl from Orem, Utah.


Hawaii please be my best friend.  I’ll make you a bracelet and everything.

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Hello there! I'm Allison Czarnecki, founder + editor of Petit Elefant, a blog all about style on a budget for every part of your life: style / home / travel / family. I do a lot of how-to beauty + style tutorials, travel posts, easy recipes, home remodel projects, and cool DIY crafts you totally want to try. I'm super happily married (to a hot Polish immigrant) and am the mother of two kids, a daughter and son, all of whom are featured here on the regular. We live in the country but we're a little bit rock + roll. Welcome!


  1. Laura :

    Glad you finally got to go. I have to say that story of everyone going except you seem very strange. Poor little 2 year old who got left when her baby sister got to go. I’m sure their reasoning made sense to them at the time, but – wow.


  2. Emily :

    Looks fantastic! Glad you finally made it there. I also like your swim suit.

  3. Kelleyn :

    I could use some Hawaii right now even though I am having the amazing opportunity to spend the summer in Europe. Bread and cultural museums are awesome, but Hawaii is like the next level of amazing.

  4. Kristen :

    It’s on my life list too – someday….. So glad you got to go! Looks like you had an action packed 72 hours :)

  5. Karen F. :

    I lived in Hawaii for 2 years and it is a magical place, truly magical.. Glad you got to see a bit of it.. Everyone should go at least once in their life time…

  6. Marie :

    I don’t think I’ve ever had a hotel close enough to any beach, let alone in Hawaii! Amazing. I need it to be my best friend too!!! Sounds amazing!

  7. Diane {Created by Diane} :

    I’m so glad your “dream” came true!!!! Must have been an amazing trip!

  8. Maria :

    Glad you were able to check Hawaii off your list! I’ve never been but want to go!

  9. Lindsey (Cafe Johnsonia) :

    I never really cared to go to Hawaii all that much. I turned down several trips with family (FOR FREE) because I would have had to go by myself with very small, screechy infants and that didn’t sound all the fun to me.

    Then last April my husband’s aunt sort of made me go with my husband. (His other aunt rented a condo FOR A MONTH) and we used her daughter’s cheap buddy passes.

    And let me tell you–I wasn’t all that excited to be going until I stepped off the plane and walked through the Honolulu airport and got a whiff of that floral scent as you walk down to baggage claim. You know the area, right?

    Man. Why did I resist?!

    Even a year later I dream about Hawaii several times a week and plot and scheme about ways to move to the North Shore and open up a bakery or something. I’d live on the beach in a tent.

    So glad you got to go! Looks like you had a blast.

  10. Carol :

    I will never forget the glorious smell of plumeria blossoms when I got of the plane in honolulu! It was awesome! I was there 3 times in the early 60’s, and it was heaven then! I got to drive a 57 t bird around part of oahu, rode on a motor skooter, and surfed! Great memories! Met alot of wonderful people there!
    Glad you finally got to go!

  11. Amanda Padgett :

    I am so thrilled for you that you were able to realize a life long dream!!! That is something which doesn’t happen very often. ((hugs)) So happy for you!

  12. Brenda @ a farmgirl's dabbles :

    I’m so happy you got to Hawaii after all those years of dreaming!! I haven’t been dreaming about a visit there for quite as long :) but I do very much hope to get there some day. It’s very very high on my bucket list!!

  13. TidyMom :

    oh Hawaii is on my bucket list too!! so thrilled you got to go finally!

  14. Feli R. :

    Turtle Bay is a wonderful hotel and the hotel staff are the best! Have a blast and i cant wait to return again to the north shore!

  15. Lisa | With Style and Grace :

    Oh, I love hawaii! So proud of you for crossing things off your life list, this is definitely a good one!