Where money doesn’t matter and everyone’s a friend

Most people spend their hard-earned tropical vacations reasonably focused on boat drinks, water slides and a nice hot stone massage.

I envy them.

Because I’m the annoying sort who sits at the swim-up bar and wonders what paradise was like before swim-up bars.

Much to my wife’s chagrin, I rent cars of questionable fitness to explore neighborhoods where tourists never tread. I chat up busboys and buffet chefs to better understand what life was like before we showed up. And while she happily sits on the beach with a novel, I build mental time machines, picturing the moment some European explorer first put a boot onto this sand and changed island life forever.

So, when it came time to pick destinations for “The Wonder List,” I set out to find a Hawaii without hotels, a Bali before burger joints.

His name is Bob. He wants to be an actor.

And when I climbed to the very spot in that photo, I was gobsmacked to discover…

…that the cell phone signal is stronger than Manhattan’s. Turns out that I stumbled into a modern garden of Eden right before they bite the apple. And the lessons about what we want out of life will stay with me forever.

The premiere of “The Wonder List” takes you on a journey to these happy islands on March 1 at 10 p.m. EST on CNN.

Join us if you can.