“Adventure is worthwhile in itself,” she said. The daring woman who flew solo across the Atlantic when the whole world doubted her, the inspiring woman who dared me to dream big and live large, the female aviator Amelia Earhart. Hers was the first biography I read as a newly inaugurated bookworm and hers is the lifestory I still marvel to study.
Fitting, then, that we explored the desert, jungle, rainforest, volcano, ocean, beaches, and cuisine of Maui in commemoration of our second wedding anniversary.
When we showed up on the island of Maui in the state of Hawaii, I was expecting my trip to be all about the beach and the ocean. Oh, was I mistaken! The island is brimming full of culture, experiences, and landscape begging to be explored.
And the best part? There are so many beaches on Maui, there were many times we had the WHOLE BEACH TO OURSELVES! (Insanely unlike my experiences on the North Carolina coast where you tiptoe between beach blankets to claim a plot of sand.
We booked a Condo at the Aston Papakea with an ocean view. We explored/swam/played hard during the day and then made supper for ourselves each evening. No lines, no waiting, no crowds. (The money savings was also a perk. :-P) I especially loved taking my Kindle out to the ocean to watch the sunset and then settling in on a lawnchair listening to the waves crash against the shore, watching the stars twinkle overhead, and relishing in the cool ocean breezes.
Despite spending the entire week outdoors, we both managed to avoid sunburn (and use an ENTIRE BOTTLE of sunscreen) . . . until I went snorkeling with the sea turtles for two hours and fried my back . . . and then the next day John went surfing all day and fried, too. We get accolades, right?
I’ve never just gone to one place on vacation. I’ve always traveled to see relatives, or roadtripped place-to-place, or spend a weekend away at a time. Moving into a hotel, unpacking my suitcase, and settling in for a whole week in one place on holiday was a novel experience, but definitely worth repeating.
However, I’m not sure we’ll go back to Maui. The world is too full of amazing experiences and destinations; we need to enjoy more of the world before we go back to the same place. (Though…we will be so glad when we can!)
Things to do on Maui
The Pacific Whale Foundation’s Molokini Wildside Snorkel Tour was hands down, absolutely, by far the highlight of my trip. We paid the extra pennies to avoid being on a boat with 86 other snorkelers, and instead had a cozy day with 14 other passengers, fresh grilled lunch after our snorkel, and two (almost three — if the manta ray’s had been spotted!) locations, LOTS of sea turtles, fascinating education, and two of the best naturalists I can imagine: our leaders Dana and Jackson were extremely knowledgeable, graciously personable, and delightfully helpful.
Going into the tour, I was mostly excited about getting a day of boating on the ocean. For me, that was the point. Oh, that was far from the point.
We bounced along the waves for about an hour before arriving at the crater Molokini. I put on my mask and fins, jumped into the water, and the choppy, reflective waves were transformed into a bower of color and adventure and A WHOLE LOT OF FISH! My face went into the water and in the first three seconds I saw a pool of about 200 hundred multi-colored fish to my right and a large rainbow-irridescent fish to my left.
Insert shock and awe here.
We won a free seat on the bus for the Road to Hana Tour with Polynesian Adventure Tours, so decided to spare our marriage a day of stress and strain along windy roads and uncharted territory and bought a second seat for a twelve hour ride through the rainforests and desert of Maui. We started with breakfast at Whole Foods, continued on to Hana where we stopped for hot lunch at a ritzy resort, and then jumped into the waterfall at the Seven Sacred Pools on the outskirts of Haleakala National Park, circled the gravel roads into the desert to a Winery & Country store (ICE CREAM!), and finally made it home at 7pm.
Definitely worth the money (especially since we only bought one ticket — I’m not sure we would’ve done it otherwise) to have a tour guide sharing Hawaii history and culture while we spun around the island.
We spent a day hiking the Waihee Ridge after finding directions to the trailhead online and then having the plan confirmed enthusiastically by Travis of Expedia Local Experts. The hike wasn’t an easy stroll, but most of the vertical climb happened in the first ten minutes while trudging up a cow chute. It remained steep throughout the hike, but the views made it worthwhile — ocean, valleys, mountains, waterfalls. All in one fell glance.
I had heard that going to the crater of Maui’s Volcano was a definite must, but I didn’t expect the 10,000 foot drive to be quite so varied in landscape and scenery — and I definitely didn’t realize I volcanic crater would be so multi colored and beautiful!
Inspired by Jete’s tutorial over on Urban Fig, I tried my own swaying-palm-trees photo. Unfortunately, I didn’t stretch to full capacity on my shutter speed (hand-held limited me substantially) and I didn’t have much light pollution down on the quiet side of the island, but I LOVE this representation of the stars and moon and swaying trees that defined my cozy beachside evenings. (Nikon D700 at 2 seconds at f/4.5 and ISO 2500).
The cell phone photos of the island: