“Aloha! Welcome to Hawaii! We’re glad your here!”
This phrase has been said to me over and over, but I never get tired of hearing it. Picking up your life and moving across the country, even just for a couple months, is scary. You don’t know the area or the people. The culture is different and confusing. When you step off the plane, you realize you are in a whole new land by yourself, and that can be a painfully lonely realization.
Luckily, that’s not the Hawaii experience. Although of course I can only speak from my immediate experience and from that of those around me, the vote is unanimous, coming to Hawaii is one of the best decisions you can make. My first day consisted of a beautiful ride from the Honolulu airport across the island to the room I am renting, just outside Pupukea. My driver was extremely friendly, and he pointed out the Dole plantations and different beaches as we went. He even helped me find the best places to eat! After showering the plane smell off, I walked to a local restaurant called Ted’s Bakery. The other customers in line shared friendly food advice, and eventually fun surfing stories with me. I walked over to the beach across the street to eat, still debating whether I had made the right choice. But when I saw the water, my worries disappeared.
The beach was serene and peaceful. A sunbathers dog trotted over to say hi. I stayed long after I had finished my food, watching the sun reflect off the water, watching the tide go in and out, and enjoying the feel of sand between my toes. It felt unreal – like something out of a movie. The air was fresh and the wind blew in sudden bursts, almost like it didn’t want to be forgotten. I had heard about island rains before, but had never experienced them for myself. They shut on and off sporadically, a child playing with a faucet somewhere up above. Kenny Chesney’s words came back to me in that moment, “Close your eyes and see what matters, wash away your worry and pain. There’s holy water in an island rain.” It was true. I could taste freedom, and I couldn’t help but relax. I had never been so grateful to just be.
I came to Hawaii to work towards my dive masters certification. This is something scuba divers can get that qualifies them to lead scuba tours with certified divers! My experience with diving was limited. I had only done Discover Scuba tours a couple times! But that was enough. Combined with a couple days of surfing experience, I knew of the calm I had only ever found out at sea. The ocean, powerful and mysterious, also held tranquility. At least, it does for me, and the thousands of others who come from all over searching for what I’ve found here in Oahu.
A dive masters certification is an expensive course. To me, the life style it opens up is worth whatever price I have to pay. So I joined the Hawaii Eco Divers work trade program. I work in the office during the week to pay for my certification, and I dive in between to work towards my certification! I came out here for many reasons. As a born and raised Texan, I craved the type of new identity construction that can only be done away from home. I wanted to push my body to be stronger and healthier than it is now. I wanted the freedom a dive masters certification gives its recipient to travel and work in costal cities around the world. The ocean felt like freedom, promise, and peace to me, all rolled into one, and I couldn’t stop dreaming about it.
The Hawaii Experience
But I found more than I knew I had bargained for. Walking to the office one morning, a friend picked a mango off the ground and tossed it my way.
“For you. It’s good.”
It was. In fact, I had never had such fresh fruit before anywhere. The move to Hawaii has brought with it a connection to Earth I did not even know I was missing. From watching crabs maneuver rocky beaches to soaking up the sun on bike rides, I feel like one with the world around me.
Ohana means family, and with Hawaii Eco Divers, I found one. Deciding to move to Hawaii seems scary, but it may be one of the best decisions of your life. Whether you are visiting for a short while or looking for a home, come check out Hawaii Eco Divers and dive with us! Meet my amazing team, have the dive of a lifetime, and get the Hawaii experience!
Thanks for reading!