“What is it about traveling that heightens your senses? Expands your gratitude? Makes you more open to spontaneity, susceptible to being social, awake to what’s possible?”

I can’t quite put my finger on it, but I’m addicted to the journey of #justpassingthrough. I often travel for work, to follow people around shooting photos, and while I’m there I can’t help but be completely immersed in the moment. Maybe it’s because I don’t want to miss a thing…

I believe that Sri Lanka—and even further, Maldives—is the farthest I could possibly travel away from my home base in Hawaii. Three airplanes and a three-hour bus ride later we landed at Ceylon Sliders, a quaint boutique hotel with five adorable rooms right across the street from the Indian Ocean. From one island to another, I felt very at home being surrounded by the ocean and found comfort in surfing with familiar faces.

The team at Ceylon Sliders/Sunshine Stories (a sister company that offers yoga and surf retreats) inspired me in more ways than they’ll ever know. Their hospitality was beautiful and they showed us such a wonderful time in Sri Lanka that included mostly food, art, surf, and wild tuk tuk rides!

Our time sadly came to an abrupt end in Sri Lanka so we repacked our bags and headed to Maldives for another quick three-day mission. I never imagined I’d take a sea plane across the Indian Ocean, seeing the most incredible atolls, but the W Maldives was gracious enough to make our mermaid dreams come true.

Although our time was short and sweet, we managed to clock in a ton of ocean time and equator bronzing.

My favorite memory took place on the deserted island Gaathafushi, where perfectly white ocean birds called their home and adorable baby black tip sharks swam at our feet.

We waded in crystal clear water while we played with our cameras and tried to take every moment in. The sun was harsh and my tummy rumbled over time but I didn’t want my time there to end.

Five airplanes later and I’m back in Hawaii, inspired and reenergized, forever grateful for the time I spent with friends #justpassingthrough these two very special countries.

By Brooke Dombroski + photos by author (@BrooklynHawaii), Rubias Collective (@Rubiascollective), & Malia Murphy (@MaliaMurphy)