I first traveled to the Hawai’ian Islands when I was seven years old. It was the first time I had a say in the family trip destination and my then obsession with the movie Lilo and Stitch prompted me to beg my parents to visit Hawai’i. Luckily enough my parents loved the idea and quickly booked a cruise around the main islands. We immediately fell in love.
Although I was so young and most of the trip is now a blur, I very vividly remember seeing my first Eucalyptus deglupta, more commonly known as the rainbow eucalyptus. We were walking through an arboretum on the Garden Isle of Kauai when we came across what seemed like an enchanted forest -- that’s the only way I can explain it. I was speechless. We were surrounded by trees taller than 100 feet and as colorful as one could imagine. The tree trunks resembled a painter’s palette, full of strokes of purples, yellows, and oranges! The beauty of these trees was overpowering and other-wordly, truly making me feel like the storybook fairy Tinkerbell. These trees were the highlight of my trip and they were all I talked about when asked about Hawai’i upon my homecoming.
The second time I came to Hawai’i was when I was 15 years old, now much more adventurous and with a real list of things to do! It’s safe to say the top of my list was Maui’s rainbow eucalyptus forest. Again, I was completely taken aback by the immensity and majesty of these trees. That feeling of being a fairy came right back to me and I felt even more connected to the trees. All their different and vibrant colored patterns gave them a certain character and life that cannot be put into words. On this trip I officially declared the rainbow eucalyptus as my favorite tree and made it very clear to my family that when I die, I want a rainbow eucalyptus planted in my name.
Three years later, when I was 18, I moved to the island of Oahu for school. I lived on Oahu for a year and frequently visited the rainbow eucalyptus trees planted in front of the Dole Plantation on the North Shore. Sometimes I’d sit under them and do homework, other times for a picnic, and occasionally for a nap in the shade. This became my safe space and a little vortex of sorts. Here, I felt like I was on another planet.
With a heavy heart I ended up moving home for a year, dreaming of returning to the islands as soon as I graduated college. However, as crazy as it sounds, 2020 brought me a wonderful serendipity. I had booked a trip to Oahu for the summer 2020 to visit my friends and was lucky enough to not have it ruined by the pandemic. Somehow, six weeks turned into six months. Now, six months is turning into one year, and we’ll see just how long I can stay on this beautiful rock! I’ve been going back to my little eucalyptus vortex almost every week.
As you can imagine, there are a million reasons why one would want to live in Hawai’i, but these trees are undoubtedly a big part of what keeps bringing me back. In my dreams, I have a farm on the North Shore of Kauai with my very own rainbow eucalyptus forest to get lost in whenever I want. Until then, I’ll continue to claim my spot in front of the Dole Plantation and admire these giants all day long. And as people say, “count your blessings,” I like to say, “count your rainbows,” as rainbows and these trees remind me of just how magical this Earth really is.
Mar is 20 and lives on Oahu, Hawai'i.
Photo Credits: (top) Janine Sprout, CC BY 4.0
<https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons; (bottom) Forest & Kim Starr, CC BY 3.0 US <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us/deed.en>, via Wikimedia Commons