Jacob learned about Hawaii from his grandfather who told him of the islands' beauty and adventures. He was introduced to Make-A-Wish after being diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma and leaped at the chance to make his dream of visiting the islands come true. We’re very grateful to Jacob, now 14, for sharing with us the story of his amazing wish journey.
I MADE A WISH AND I GOT TO SEE HAWAII
I chose Hawaii for my Make-A-Wish trip because I wanted to see Hawaii’s beautiful, exotic flowers, birds, volcanoes, and waterfalls. There is a different way of life in Hawaii and an interesting culture, and I wanted to experience it. We went to Hawaii for the first week of July in 2017.
First, my family of five (my younger brothers Zachary and Nathaniel, my mom, Michelle, and my stepdad, David, and I), got picked up in a limousine to take us to the airport. When we finally arrived in Maui, after two long flights, it was 2 AM New York City time and 8 PM Hawaiian time, but we were too excited to sleep. A woman welcomed each of us with a lei, a fragrant flower necklace made from purple orchids.
The next morning, we went out on our lanai (balcony) where we heard myna birds calling to each other. We realized we had a nice sliver of an ocean view and loved the palm trees that surrounded the property. For breakfast that day, and every day after, we had muffins, cereal, fruit, and pancakes from Honolulu Coffee, and adopted a table for ourselves in the middle of the Hyatt Regency Maui’s spectacular atrium. The hotel was so incredible that we could have chosen not to leave it for the duration of the trip. There were parrots, salamanders, penguins, herons, a koi pond, flamingoes, cranes, swans, and bougainvillea flowers covering everything in bright pink and purple. At least six pools were scattered throughout the property, each with plumeria trees that would drop petals into the water. My stepdad even loved the walk through the parking lot—there were mountain views and cattle egrets on the way to the car!
Of course, we did have to leave the hotel to see the island. One of the many highlights of the trip was visiting the Haleakalā crater. The top of the crater is 10,000 feet up a mountain, and there were many sights to see on the way. First, we stopped at Kula Lavender Farm where we saw views of the Maui coastline, hiked through tropical flowers, and tasted lavender lemonade--yum! When we reached Haleakala itself, it was freezing and extremely windy, but we were high above the clouds, gazing out at the giant crater. On the way down the mountain, we stopped at one of my favorite sights of the whole trip— Kula Lodge. Kula Lodge has a restaurant that overlooks much of Maui, perched on a cliff, with gardens blooming almost vertically and pathways so you can walk through the flowers. We met the gardener there and she said that a bright orange-red bush was called a “burning bush”. We saw flowering cacti, banana palms, and even yellow and green lovebirds.
On July 4, we took a guided tour of the Maui Gold Pineapple plantation fields and saw our guide, Steve, cut ripe pineapples loose with a machete. He cut the skins off with the knife, flipped the pineapples over to hold them by the crown, and handed each of us one to eat like giant, juicy pineapple lollipops! A wild buck ran across the plantation which was also really surprising. Afterwards, we had lunch at the Stopwatch Sports bar & Grill in a nearby town and had a table outside, surrounded by lush foliage. We enjoyed big fish n’ chips sandwiches and curly fries. That night, we watched the Lahaina fireworks from our hotel’s beach, as the sun set over the ocean in bright orange and indigo.
Highlights from the rest of the trip included a submarine tour that ended with us seeing sea turtles swimming near our car in the parking lot, snorkeling in Maui’s turquoise waters with multi-colored parrotfish and sea urchins, and enjoying Ululani’s Shave Ice in a hundred different flavors. But the day we spent driving the Road to Hana (we never reached Hana) was an exquisite one. We passed Ho‘okipa Beach, where we saw a bunch of surfers and breadfruit trees. The water there was five shades of blue. Then we drove to Twin Falls and swam under the waterfall. Further down the road, we saw a grove of the most unique type of trees, called rainbow eucalyptus trees. The bark on these trees had orange and green vertical stripes. Our next stop was the appropriately named Garden of Eden—we were convinced it was the real thing. One of the unusual flowers in the gardens was named “Sexy Pink”, and it looked like a vine of hot pink petals. The gardens also had a peekaboo ocean view between the trees and flowers. There were even baby peacocks running around. We loved it there.
On the final day of the trip, we visited a very special place: Leilani Farm Sanctuary. Leilani is a sanctuary for animals rescued from across Hawaii. We pet tortoises, rabbits, deer, roosters, donkeys, and a pig named Charlotte who loved mud baths. There was also a huge chicken coop and where we saw their eggs. After this stop, Zachary was inspired to become a vegetarian for two months.
It was great for my family to experience Hawaii’s beauty. On the last morning before our flight, it was extremely depressing to leave--but Hawaii had one more adventure for us. After we left our otherworldly hotel, my stepdad took us on a supposed “shortcut” to the airport, which turned out to be a very dangerous cliff drive. It wound up being just as beautiful--or even more beautiful--than the scenery on the Road to Hana. Our last stop was in the town of Paia, where we made peace with leaving Hawaii and saw our last purple sunset.
As we went into the airport and smelled the last of the plumeria, we said good-bye to the Hawaiian palm trees we wouldn’t see for a while. I’m positive I will go back there one day—and remember all the fun we had on this trip. This was the most amazing experience I have ever had—and it’s all thanks to Make-A-Wish.