I had the opportunity to take a last-minute vacation this month and decided to make my first trip to Hawaii. The initial challenge was choosing an island. I searched the internet and found a scorecard. Less than ten minutes later, I was looking for flights to Maui.
After a few days there, you forget you are in the United States. It’s so tropical, and beautiful, and diverse. Then, you ask for directions or suggestions and the person easily understands you; the stores don’t give change you’ll have a hard time spending.
My most memorable experience was a whale-watching trip on the first day of the breeding and birthing season. We started out at Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Ambassadors of the Environment shop where we had a brief introduction to the humpback whale, then were off in a Zodiac boat which quickly found a calf and mother with an escort! The yearling entertained us by waving his fins while lying on his back (their fins are the largest appendage in the animal kingdom), and later leapt halfway out of the water! He will eventually become larger than a school bus and weigh 40 tons IF he can avoid disaster, which normally comes at the hands of humans or something we have put in his way.
Being from Florida, I’ve seen my share of surfers BUT I have never seen surfers and windsurfers like in Hawaii. Ho’okipa Beach is perfect for the sports and even has sharing rules. Surfers have priority until 11:00 a.m. when windsurfers take over. One morning, there were 60+ surfers visible from where we stood. Another day, 30+ surfers and 30+ windsurfers shared the spot. The churning waves make the water look like larimar.
There’s also great snorkeling from the side of the road. It’s odd to lift your head from viewing healthy coral with beautiful fish and hear cars driving by.
You can visit black sand beaches, which I didn’t realize are made of black pebbles of varying sizes. My favorite was at Wainapanapa State Park. We found it on the ‘road to Hana’ which we luckily drove clockwise so we were against the mountain rather than the cliff when meeting cars on blind turns. That road also took us to Coconut Glen’s roadside stand, which offers tasty diversions. Glen sold my goodies to me, and his humble demeanor didn’t give away his secret. Turns out he was an actual chef who found his paradise selling incredible ice cream and coconut candy on a mountain in Maui.
The road to Hana leads to beautiful sunsets, such as the one above from our drive or those seen from the Sea House, where we had multiple meals. But, the restaurant we frequented most was Maui Brewing Company’s brew-pub. They have wonderful craft brews (and unique cycling shirts – men’s sizes only). My favorites were Old Chinwig and Island Hopped Red, which are occasional brews. Their staple brews are available daily and even sold at other outlets.
Obviously, I’m not the only one that finds Maui awe-inspiring. This is easily demonstrated by the property prices. I could tell Makena Beach was a nice area and my smart phone quickly proved just how high a price beautiful views can demand. Check out this house for $19.5 million or this one for a mere $3 million.
Thankfully, there are homes or hotels that are more in reach. And, the great views are always a short drive or walk away. That means normal people like me can share the beauty of Maui and have a very Maui Christmas!