In all of our rambling on-and-on about Hawaii over the years, we've failed to give adequate attention to what we think is this sliver-of-the-world's biggest selling point.
You feel the love when you are there. It's like Valentine's Day every day.
Very few places come to mind when we ponder the very tippy-top tier of our world "friendliness and warmth" scale. Costa Rica, maybe Bali. That's probably it.
Let us tell you, the "aloha spirit" – as you may have heard it referred to – is not a fantasy. It is alive and well among the islands of Hawaii.
Full disclosure. Hawaii's got a leg up on the competition right out of the gate. These are the givens...
The leis being draped on you at every turn.
The music – often made recognizable by the sweet ukulele.
The flowers that thrive with uncharacteristic ease (orchids, we're talking to you).
On every visit to the Hawaiian islands, we find that the spirit of aloha thrives in many ways. Last month, during our hosted visit to Lanai, we felt it in a big way. Starting with all of the pride showcased at the Lanai Culture and Heritage Center.
All the animal love present at Kathy Carroll's Lanai Animal Rescue Center.
Spotting Mike Carroll's (Kathy's husband) art all around the island.
In the spirit of Valentine's Day, we decided to surprise a few people with a taste of the aloha spirit. Via a little Twitter and Facebook fun, we've selected a couple of people to receive a few of the goodies we brought back home with us – some soothing Hawaiian music, a couple of leis, a t-shirt from the Lanai Animal Rescue Center, a desk calendar from Mike Carroll's Gallery and, finally, some tea from Nobu (where we had a top-10 meal).
Now, inspired by the aloha spirit, we're going to hit the streets of Seattle and surprise people with some sweets for Valentine's Day.
Need an injection of the aloha spirit in your life. Get to Lanai!