My lunch companions wore plumeria flowers behind their ears, necklaces strung with black pearls and Ni'ihau shells, and clothing with floral patterns. All signs that they live and work in Hawaii. In this case, Kauai.
[Quiz of the day. Can you name the eight major Hawaiian islands? Answer at the end.]
We on the East Coast often choose the Caribbean or Mexico over Hawaii because those places are closer. But obviously, they can't offer the unique culture and language of Hawaii, which is why it's worth a visit to the Aloha state.
Nowhere else in the world are you greeted at retail establishments with "aloha" and thanked with "mahalo." And, where else can you spend a day swimming with sea turtles, watching hula dancing and attending a luau?
It's a long haul for most people. And it can seem daunting for solo travelers to fly a long way, rent a car and spend beach time alone.
But there are ways to find people to spend time with. For example, snorkel with others on an adventure tour. So many beautiful creatures live in that part of the Pacific, including the humuhumunukunukuāpuaʻa, Hawaii's state fish.