Before Hawaii, I'd never seen waves actually crash before. But I was told by some friends that surfers have to get off their boards before shore, or they can break their necks! These waves would jump into the air right before they reached land, then explode on the sand. It was frightening. I gasped as my friends' young son got too close and his dad pulled him away just in time.
These were friends from my hometown who happened to be stationed in Hawaii when I went there for a conference. I was bummed because the class schedule was so tight, we didn't get out in time to see landmarks. Pearl Harbor closed at 3 daily, and we missed it. But my friends gave me a richer view of their island.
I was greeted with a real plumeria lei (sniiiiiiiif). And got to see everything from the eyes of a local. That sunset on the beach watching the power in those waves was worth the trip.
Go to Hawaii, y'all.