If you have an adventurous side, you should visit the island of Maui. I was lucky enough to visit there on spring break my senior year of high school. I was extra excited to go to Hawaii and finally experience something tropical for once in my life. However, let me tell you now that the island is not all tropical. Do not be disappointed when you get off the plane and the island looks more like a beach town and not Hawaii like we see it in movies. It is there, it is just hidden.
I remember feeling a bit betrayed when we drove away from the airport. The small city was just like any other and on the outskirts were fields of sugar cane. It wasn’t until about 30 minutes in, that it finally felt like vacation. There was a beautiful golf course covered in palm trees and hibiscus and plumeria flowers galore. We stayed at a little seafoam green condo right on the beach in Kihei.
Our first day we had arrived in the evening and didn’t do much. There was a little town nearby where we grabbed authentic chicken katsu and salads. It was to die for! Since we were on the beach, it was easy to fall asleep to the waves and the air was very warm and relaxing. These condos were a perfect place to stay, as the tenants left us boogie boards and beach chairs. They also had a gorgeous view of the beach and tropical flowers.
That next morning we tried the traditional Hawaiian breakfast of spam, eggs and rice. It was a bit salty, but quite tasty. We stayed on the beach that whole day and did nothing but body surf, tan and play in the tide pools. Every sea creature was bright and colorful and there was lots of white coral everywhere. I learned first hand that the sand gets super hot though, and my flip flops almost completely melted! In the evening we went into the small town where there were tons of small trinket shops and some with beautiful seashells and carvings. The shops may fool you, because the authentic ones are mixed in with the touristy ones.
Our third day in Maui was an unbelievable experience. We were able to learn from the locals of a small cove where they would snorkel and swim with the sea turtles and fish. It was a damp area hidden behind trees, houses and covered in lava rocks. You had to be super careful because the rocks were sharp and hurt to step on. Snorkeling is such an amazing experience. I got to go out into the deeper water and see gemstone colored fish and corals and even a cute little sea turtle! The best part was that he let me swim with him and he eventually let me hold onto his shell and pull me through the water. This was as perfect as any Hawaii scene in a movie. Befriend the locals, I promise you they will tell you where everything cool is.
We didn’t have to go far to find beauty though. Walking around where we stayed was tons of the beautiful flowers in every color and tropical scenery. We were supposed to take surf lessons, but they ended up getting cancelled due to Japan’s tsunami remains hitting the beach when we were there. That day we drove to the other side of the island and went on the adventure only an explorer could dream of. This adventure is called the Road to Hana.
We started by driving through green farmland and ending up on a sketchy windy road around the ocean. On one side you could see the cliffs and sea thrashing the walls, and on the other were beautiful small waterfalls and lush foliage. There are tons of mile markers to breathtaking places, but unfortunately it would take you a few days to see it all. Our first stop was a small trail that looked out across the canopy of the jungle. There were tropical trees close to the size of the redwoods in California. It was amazing.
After that we stopped at Ho’okipa lookout. It is a place where the local surfers that are really good go and hit some huge waves off the sides of cliffs. It was pretty cool to watch them! There were also merchants selling handmade shell necklaces and coconut carvings out of their trucks. It was worth the stop.
Our next stop was at a beautiful waterfall that you could swim around and go under. It is called Twin Falls. We were able to get it all to ourselves, but that was because it started raining. You cannot tell in our picture, but we were FREEZING! The little brothers, of course, had no problem with the cold. It would have been a perfect swimming hole in the sunshine. There was a warning though that it is known to flood, so we didn’t stick around there long.
Eventually we made it to Wai’anapanapa State Park, which is known for its’ black sand beaches. We played around there for awhile and had a picnic in a serene grassy park. Down on the beach we found a cave that you could climb up and see an amazing view of the crystal clear-blue ocean. This wasn’t even the prettiest part of the whole trip.
The most beautiful part that I found in all of Maui is called the Seven Sacred Pools. You can go down and swim in them and enjoy their waterfalls. This place was truly amazing. It is also apart of a bamboo forest, that goes deep into the jungle with huge trees covered in vines and some huge waterfalls. You just can’t get too close to see some of the falls because they are on the other side of cliffs, but there are warning signs. By the time we got here it was almost dusk, so I didn’t get to see that much of it. We missed quite a bit of the stops and never made it to the top where the lava rocks are, but I can promise you that I will be back to see all of it!
My last day on the island was one of the coolest experiences that I have ever had in my entire life. My daddy and I got to ride dirt bikes over the mountain ridgelines in Lahaina. It was the most badass experience ever. We did a hard trail, but there is an intermediate course as well. The guy who runs it, Mike, will take you all over and even down on the beaches. We got to stop and see beautiful wild tropical flowers and trees. Mike even brought water, gatorade, sandwiches and snacks for us to enjoy while we stopped at the various places. I can never thank my daddy enough for that. It was my high school graduation present early.
So if you love to adventure and want to see true beauty by nature, go explore the island of Maui. It is less touristy and I promise you will not be sorry you went.