I spent all of last week on vacation on the island of Maui in Hawaii. While I was there I learned a lot about the island and about myself.
1. You must travel a long way to get to a little beach. While we were in Maui we met a great couple from Seattle who told us about a big Sunday party on the local nude beach called Little Beach. With a YOLO mentality we decided to check it out. Little beach is next to Big beach and that’s really the only information we had. When we arrived at Big beach we wandered around for a while searching for clues. Come to find out we needed to climb up the steep lava rocks to reach Little beach which was hidden on the other side. I don’t want to over exaggerate it but this was kind of a legit rock climbing exercise. When we got down to the hidden beach on the other side we found a large crown of clothed and naked folks all relaxing in the sun. It was a very mixed crowd of old and young, men and women, and straight and gay, much more mixed that I expected. There was less of a sexy atmosphere and more of a hippy vibe. With the was a non stop drum circle and the scent of weed everywhere it’s what I picture when I think of the 60’s. Other than the incredible people watching my favorite part of the beach was the incredibly big waves. Jumping and bouncing in the water kept me laughing all afternoon. I loved the whole experience because it felt very unique and something I knew I would have trouble recreating.
2. Like heaven, you’ll never get to Hana. The road to Hana is on every must see list written about Maui. The road traverses much of the north shore of the island and provides some of the most beautiful most picturesque spots. Every where you turn it looks like a postcard. Unfortunately with all the stops and due to the incredibly tight winding road the journey to Hana is several hours long. Most people, us included, end up giving up somewhere along the way and turn around. I’m proud to say that we made it 75% of the way there before throwing in the towel. (The road was so windy that Russ actually got car sick and threw up) Even though we didn’t cross the finish line we still got to see waterfalls, nature trails, and probably the prettiest coast line I have ever seen. Also the more we talked to people the more we found out that almost everyone quits before reaching Hana. It’s about the journey not the destination.
3. Vacation friends are the friends you didn’t know you needed. Maui is the relaxed and laid back cousin to the much busier Oahu. The whole island feels like a small beach town and at night the town goes to bed early to prepare for the next beautiful day. There isn’t much nightlife on Maui beyond some local bars and strolling along moon lite beaches. We were lucky enough to meet Eric and Chris on one of our first days there because not only had they been to Maui before but they were also buddies we could spend time with throughout the week. We would meet at a local bar for cheep shots and just shoot the shit. They gave us valuable tips on what beaches and restaurants to go to and we introduced them to shaved ice and a mountain top sunrise. They were friendly and down to earth and helped make an already enjoyable trip that much better.
4. Driving up a 10,000 ft mountain will give me a panic attack. One of the must do activities on Maui is driving up to the peak of Haleakalā to watch sun rise. At 10,023 feet the peak rises above the clouds and it’s truly a beautiful sunrise. To get there you must first drive for about an hour through endless hairpin turns. I was driving and to say I was tense is an understatement. By the time we got to close to the top my nerves were stretched very thin. We got to the parking lot and I could finally take a deep breath. That was until we realized the lot was full and we’d have to continue up for more parking. I soldered on and once the car was parked I got out I had a mini break down. All I could do was sob into Russ’ shoulder. It wasn’t until that moment that I had let myself feel the all the terror that was building inside me. I tell you all of this to say that it was totally worth it. The sunrise was so breathtaking that it was worth all the stress. To look down at the cloud line is truly a unique experience. I can’t recommend it highly enough. It’s really worth the early wake up call and long drive to see such a beautiful part of nature. Btw, Jordan saved the day when he happily agreed to drive down.
5. Fangirling is not appropriate when you see a turtle in the water. Jordan and Russ really wanted to go snorkeling so I agreed even though I wasn’t that excited about it to be honest. We got on a boat with about 10 other people and an incredibly friendly crew. After a few basic pointers we were in the water. One of the first tips they gave us was to try to refrain from getting too excited when we saw turtles. Not surprisingly turtles get a little skittish when humans waves their arms and legs wildly in the ocean. I’ll be honest and admit that when I finally saw an adorable turtle my gut reflex was to act like a total fangirl. Luckily I resisted the urge and let him swim by undisturbed. The same theory worked for fish too. There was a large school of purple fish that were constantly swimming around me seemingly without fear. I never expected to get close enough to a fish to see an expression on its face. The experience was really wonderful.
6. Slaughterhouses can be very relaxing. On one of our last beach days we decided to head to the eastern side of the island and go to Slaughterhouse beach. It was described as a beautiful beach that was tucked between two cliffs and not heavily infested with tourist. We were one of only a handful of groups and it was nice get away from some of the crowds. The waves of Slaughterhouse beach were much smaller than Little Beach and therefore a pleasant relief. As we were leaving it started to rain lightly and by the time we got back to our car there was a fully realized rainbow in the sky. A perfect end to the day. FYI the drive to Slaughterhouse beach is also beautiful.
7. Hawaiian airports are more concerned about their produce than actual security. The airports in both Maui and Honolulu are open air airports. This means that as you’re walking down the corridor to get to your gate you are walking in an open air hallway with a floor and a ceiling but noticeably absent walls. The whole atmosphere is both wonderful and bizarre all at the same time. It’s difficult to imagine this being very secure. However don’t try to sneak outside produce into the building because they have tons a check points and scanners that are only looking for rogue fruit. (Honolulu airport pictured above)
8. The fun is in the details. There were a lot of details that really celitified the fun of our trip. We found a local Maui open-mic stand up comedy show which brought nothing but uncomfortable first time comedian tension. While having lunch in a quiet Mexican restaurant we found both the nicest waitress we’ve ever met and the hottest ‘monogamous but still has a secret Growlr profile’ bear on earth. There was the jelly fish tank at the aquarium that was so incredibly relaxing that it’s one of my strongest memories. A naked baby befriending Russ at one beach and Russ befriending the greatest dog at another beach. The most delicious shaved ice at Ululani’s that is the perfect treat for a hot summer day. Great memories.
9. Exhaustion can play tricks on your mind. We rented a condo that didn’t have air conditioning. The good news was that it force us to get up and out in the morning and I do think we were more active because of it. The bad news was that trying to fall asleep was a challenge. Sleeping was difficult (but not impossible) and throughout the whole vacation I slept enough to not be tired during the day but I also never felt well rested. It started to catch up with me at the end of the week. By the time we started our long day of travel home I was totally exhausted. There’s a difference between just being physically tired and being physically and mentally exhausted. It was so bad that I started to question and regret all of my life choices. Thankfully I had enough strength to realize it wasn’t really a feeling of strong regret, I was simply worn out and in need of a good nap.