It all started as a short ride to the airport, an anxious ride with tropical dreams dancing in our heads. Visions of dorado, tuna, roasting pigs and lush foliage topped with flowers raced through our minds. A quick plane change in Las Vegas and we were finally off to Oahu. I have to say I never imagined Hawaii would be nearly as gorgeous as it turned out. I have always thought it would be commercially overgrown with shops, fat tourists stuffing their shopping bags and faces. No way! Once we cleared Honolulu it was clear this would prove to be different. As we approached the islands from 34,000 feet I could see green spanning from one point to the next. Volcanoes topped with cumulus clouds revealed an oasis among the vast Pacific. No place on earth is further from a continent and that is what I first liked about Hawaii. Pelagic fish were never more than a moment away from where I stood. This is my version of paradise! We hurriedly clamored for our luggage at the baggage claim and scurried for the rental car counter. A quick swipe of the credit card and we were on our way to the north side of the island. I called our friends to get final directions to the house and listened eagerly. “Turn right on Likelike highway,” they explained. “Okay,” I thought to myself. “I already likey this place.” They continued and I followed directions to what seemed to be directions to the end of the world. Night had fallen and I drove down dark local roads to a home tucked away in a place full of plants and cool running streams leading from crisp mountains seemingly out of place in a surrounding ocean. Lays and hugs greeted us as we wearily stepped from the hard driven rental. “Aloha, welcome to our home,” started my friends. “You must be hungry, come inside.” We stepped in the house and our noses were filled with aromas of pork steamed in tea leaves and exotic fruits as well as deserts. Wine encouraged our taste buds and conversation steeped our minds. Finally, exhausted after traveling and catching up we needed a shower and place to sleep. We were told to pick our beds and step outside for a shower. Yes, an outdoor shower where the shower head peeked from the lush flora under bright stars beckoned our soar, stiff bodies. Refreshed, we slept awaiting the daybreak. The morning came and we were off the see the island. We walked outside and could not believe how beautiful the world was outside. Water was everywhere, birds sang from the cliff towering above our room, and we knew we needed to get in the hills to see the source of the waterfalls heard in the distance. A short hike in the mountains revealed enormous trees covered in vines. I became Tarzan and began climbing trees covered in lizards and other creatures who wondered who this crazy person was invading their abode. “Jane” asked me to come down and help her explore the wilds of the paradise. We climbed further to find a pool at the bottom of a gentle waterfall. We swam and sat in the chilled water and listened to birds serenade the playful humans welcome in their water hole. However, the ocean still loomed in our heads and we walked down the path leading to the road to get to the rental car. After getting the local skinny on the best spots to snorkel we made our dash to the water’s edge. Sea turtles were my first victims. “Look,” exclaimed Sarah. I saw a big turtle resting among the shallow rocks. I eased up the lumbering reptile and grabbed it. It protested the invasion and belched air while it tried to swim in the air as I hoisted him from the water. I put him back and he was gone. There had to be more to see in the depths and with masked donned, we began to swim pushing our bodies though the water with our flippers. Huge parrotfish, eels, colorful triggers, wrasses and a plethora of other amazing fish surrounded us. We investigated “shark cove,” the #2 shore diving spot in the world, with vigor for hours. I have loved catching fish for years, but never realized the beauty as well as serenity of swimming with them. A shy grouper would be keeping a distance when a needlefish would come close for a better look at the clumsy creatures in their world. We swam around a rocky coral encrusted point to find preoccupied feeding turtles. I grabbed two of them for a ride through the water. There is nothing like gleaming a ride on the back of these ancient creatures. Their grace in the water exudes their awkwardness on land. Time slipped away and we needed to get back to the real world. We were in town for a wedding and the groom, bride and other members of the wedding party were getting to town. We rendezvoused with the party and had a meal fit for royalty. The next morning was coming soon and more dreams of offshore fish crept into our minds. We woke to drive to Honolulu Harbor and get onboard the Maggie Joe. We left the harbor with a spread already in the wake. Birds were marking foaming fish just a mile out and soon a wahoo and dorado were crushing the teaser. A drop back to the salivating denizens of the deep resulted in sky rocketing dorado in the 40lb class. We trolled more and nailed a few more dorado before spotting two misplaced humpbacks who forgot to migrate to Alaska. They did not like the rumbling diesels and sounded to the depths on our approach. The next few hours we watched “piles,” as the local call schools, of dorado. No tuna to be found. It was a dodo day to be sure. Friday was another day to play and check out the island. We cruised Kamehameha Highway checking out shops with the uncle of the bride. He grew up on the famous North Shore and knew all the local hotspots. Fish and Chips, beer and local history lessons flowed from the seasoned islander turned “mainlander.” I think we relived his childhood and you could see the glimmer of fond memories in his eyes as he spoke. My friend has married into a family of fine people and I was pleased to get to know such a great family. By late afternoon we knew we needed to head to our houses to clean up and get ready for the rehearsal dinner. The dinner was great. We all had more time to familiarize ourselves with new people and rekindle old memories with friends whose faces have also aged with the memories. The wedding party had to practice the ceremony drills in the parking lot and I exchanged speech notes with the father-in-law to be. Many drinks and fat bellies later we all retired for the evening early so we could cliff dive the next morning. I had seen locals diving from the rocks the day before and knew this was going to be fun. We arrived before anyone else and started down the beach goading one another about who the cowards would be. The groom’s brother and I were the first to climb the rock towering above the surf. I looked down to see two turtles swimming below the rock and waited for them to move away from what would be the “splash zone.” They moved and we jumped! I felt like I could have taken two breaths before hitting the water. A blow hole was just down the beach and we decided to swim inside the hole before the surf had begun to build from the afternoon trade winds. Again, turtles were already on location and swimming in “our” hole. No matter, they made nice swim mates. We donned our snorkel gear again and started to swim the area before deciding the search out newer areas with better reefs. We did and the rest of the day we managed to have a relaxing day with my long time friend about to walk the isle on an isle to matrimony. The time finally arrived to dress for the wedding and make our way to a ferry to carry us to the island where the ceremony would take place. This is the same island were Lost is filmed, but before we made it to the ferry we stopped at a quaint church to rinse the wedding rings in Holy water. Chores aside, it was time. We drove down a hill to a ferry piloted by a native Hawaiian. It was a traditional style outrigger canoe boat powered by modern 4 stroke Hondas. Soon, the nuptial vows took place without flaw and we all smiled with adoration as our friends united for a lifetime. A limo took us the reception in paradise home of my friend’s in-laws. There place was the most beautiful place on the island. Food fit for Queen Liliuokalani spilled over our plates and fresh wine flowed into our glasses. Eventually I had to thankfully deliver and speech over the 130 guest testifying to the beauty of my great friend’s new love and evolving family. Tears, cheers and applause for the bride and groom were the result of the sister-in-law, father-in-law and my speeches. Now it was their turn to address the moved crowd. They had commissioned a painting of her parents on their wedding day 34 years earlier. The presentation of the gift moved everyone to tears as they embraced, cried and hugged one another. There has never been more wonderful people than this couple who plied a life out of the side of an ancient island. Fire dancers soon started us off to a night of music and dancing. From 2 year olds to 89 year olds, all danced and celebrated in the cool humid fragrance filled air. Sarah and I left early to decorate the honeymoon house for the couple, but a night alone was not to be. The groom’s sister was found in the arms of one of her new in-laws and both had too much to drink. My friend was going to be the only one making love on the beach this evening and he took her with him against my suggestion to let me baby sit. The last day I had arranged to spend another day offshore with an online friend on bloodydecks. We followed directions across the island to Ko’Olina harbor. We met Jack and loaded up on his sweet Bertram 31. This would not prove to be a productive trip, but it did allow me to form a new friendship with a very knowledgeable mainlander turned islander. We spotted some bird “piles” and kept moving from one to the next in search of wahoo. This never happened and once the seas picked up to a significant level we headed in. I have to hand it to Sarah. She endured quite a rough ride for a second trip offshore without a complaint. She even spotted birds working while Jack and I lied to each other. What a trooper! With the day behind us we packed our bags and headed to the airport. The flight home was blurring. I slept most of the time and now am planning my next trip with a more organized plan to fish and hit the island again.