The Many Islands of Hawaii by Jacob Young

Imagine piloting kayak, cruising along, enjoying the serenity of water surrounding you. You are in paradise, and the late afternoon sun warms your skin. To your right is the Big Island of Hawaii, and to your left is the endless span of the Pacific Ocean. After half an hour, or it could have been 2 hours, you reach your destination…a hidden alcove with some of the best snorkeling in the world. Or so you’ve heard. Swimming in the warm ocean water is one experience, but to peer under the water and actually see what is below—to gaze at this other world that exists below the surface—this is when the magic happens. Everywhere you look, there is movement and life! Schools of fish flow in and out of the coral and you are immediately transfixed. The snorkel allows you to stay under water as long as you wish…so you enjoy the swim in the warm, clear waters, becoming one with the fishes. They have no reaction at all, assuming you are some clumsy cousin of sort. (The fins on your feet do help you keep up and navigate the waters more quickly).

As the sun gets lower on the horizon, you realize that you should probably kayak back to the mainland! So you commence a peaceful cruise back along the empty cove, remembering the life underneath you. A deep sense of zen sets in as you pick up the pace slightly.

Gazing toward the sun setting, you slow for a drink. You see an island in the distance that you don’t remember. It could be off in the horizon, but then your eyes realize the depth accurately and you see that it is only a stone’s throw from you. How curious, you think…then a deep, lusty ujaii breath inward fills the air—and it lasts longer than you could ever manage in yoga class…then, a volcano of water and air plooms upward from the island—SPLOOSH!—as the behemoth humpback whale exhales and shifts forward, logging, and then giving you a full roll and fluke before disappearing into the world beneath the surface.

Did that just happen? Full-bore adrenaline and yet a deep sense of peacefulness overtake you. Yes, that did just happen. The smile doesn’t disappear the rest of the night, and the awe and disbelief at how grandiose this wonderful world we live in only continues to grow. And that’s just one afternoon in Hawaii.

Try life. Live it.

Jake is an international travel guide with Alchemy Tours. To experience something like this with him, join him and Silvia Mordini for their Big Island Adventure this December 11-17, 2011 starting at $999 all included except airfare. More details on or on

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