“Our battered suitcases were piled on the sidewalk again; we had longer ways to go. But no matter, the road is life.” – Jack Kerouac.
It’s funny how one can be so good at packing, planning andconstantly going… But when it comes to arriving home from each journey, why, she’s as clumsy and novice as the next!
At what point will I be nimble enough to slip in and out of life with grace? Is that even possible? When I find out friends, I will let you know!
After a good night’s sleep and a great yoga class, I’m finally beginning to feel normal again. You know, just in time for our next trip — HA! It helps that traces of sand linger (Hawaiian sand embeds like no other!) and our bronzed skin still hints of coconut and plumeria.
As I mentioned before, Maui conjures up a lot of memories for me. I spent many a youthful holiday there and well… frankly, I expected to remember more than I did. Yet when I arrived, it was mostly a series of déjà vu moments.
“Honey! I recognize this airport. I am sure we stayed in these condos and this patch of trees seems strangely familiar…”
It made me reconsider my stance on childhood travel and how it affects us as we age.
HIGHLIGHTS + SUGGESTIONS:
DRIVE to the Iao Valley. This was the most “tropical” area we visited on the island and it’s chock full of history; from natural volcanic events to battles and burial grounds. It’s centrally located and very easy to get to. In fact, if you can drag yourself away from the beach, Maui presents a lot of great opportunities for hiking! My children were only up for the short hike to the Iao Needle and around the botanical gardens, but there were much longer hikes deep into the rainforest valley. Regardless, we enjoyed this spot of greenery. There’s also a nice Heritage garden at the bottom of the road, also worth a quick stop.
CHILL in Paia. Hands down this was our favorite little village. It has a great, Earthy-Artist-Hippie vibe! We loved the food at the Flatbread Pizza company. Their primitive oven makes killer pizza and the salads, desserts and beer were equally delicious! Also, check out the Buddhist Stupa, Mana Health Food Store and Mandala Ethnic Arts.
SNORKEL with The Ocean Project: I have to thank good, old TripAdvisor for this recommendation! I found it at the last minute, so we were lucky to book an excursion before we left. Our instructor and guide, Mel, is a marine biologist and educator. We met him at the beach and before our snorkel tour, he taught us about marine life. I learned a bunch of interesting facts myself! It was the perfect introduction for what we might encounter on the trip. He then suited us up, took complete control over the children (which was awesome) and we all went out to view the coral reefs and sea turtles. It was an incredible experience, especially swimming with turtles, and it was the perfect way for the children to learn how to snorkel. (I’m pretty sure I was thrown into the ocean with a mask and fins to fend for myself.) The children each had disposable cameras and I had my own fun, little arrangement (more on that another time), so there was a photographic component to this adventure that made it even more exciting. I would HIGHLY recommend anyone traveling to Maui with children to do this.
HIKE the Bamboo Forest. I owe Desi big time for sharing this with me. Recommendations from friends mean EVERYTHING when traveling. This was probably one of the most memorable things (other than our snorkel trip) that we did. It’s kind of a magical place that takes you on a rugged trail to four different waterfalls. Unfortunately, we didn’t go all the way to the end (where supposedly you have to climb a rickety ladder and then swim in a pool to reach the last waterfall.) It was challenging enough climbing a 5 + 7 year old up a muddy hillside with a rope, but it was fun all the same! You feel so tiny in comparison to the tall trees and when the wind blows, it sounds like you’re in the middle of an enormous bamboo wind chime. From there, I really wanted to drive all the way to Hana, but alas, no one else in the car agreed. If you don’t make it around the Eastern half of the island, be sure to stop and do this hike. While you’re there, look for the Rainbow Eucalyptus trees just around the next bend. (Both are near Mile Marker 7.)
SEE Haleakala National Park. I support national parks regardless of their touristy nature, so this was a requisite in my book. I will say, it was the longest 37 miles I’ve ever driven. Seriously! But once you get to the top and are overlooking the clouds, it’s totally worth the car and altitude sickness. Look for the endemic Hawaiian Silversword plant and keep an eye out for interesting birds (we saw a bunch.) The view is spectacularly eery. (Why is it that every single crater I’ve ever been to has the weirdest energy? Hmm…)
BEACH IT: Let’s be honest, the number one reason to come to Hawaii is for some quality time at the beach. I desperately need to relax more, so the majority of our days were spent either in the water or by it. I love swimming in the ocean! (I went to the hotel pool once.) We tried to visit as many beaches as we could, but Ka’anapali and Makena were our two favorites. They’re both totally touristy, but equally lovely. Ka’anapali is long, fairly wide and the waves are mostly tame, making it the safest for children. This was the first time our kids really swam in the ocean, so it was fun to teach them how to body surf and be aware in the sea. When they weren’t in the water, they were happily building sandcastles or splashing around. We snorkeled and Stand Up Paddle surfed there, too. Makena Beach, on the other hand, was without a doubt the prettiest beach we encountered. (Think lighter, soft sand, turquoise water and greenery — something you’d likely find on a more exotic coastline.) BUT… the waves, shorebreak and current are dangerous! It’s best for sunbathing or watching the sunset.
Now that I’ve revisited the island, I don’t feel the need to go back any time soon, but I am glad that I was able to see it again as an adult. I’ve now pieced together the bits of memories I’d collected over the years to form a picture of what Maui really is.