“A smiling sea turtle is likely to startle you on your swim – snapping you into the reality that Yes – You really are swimming in the seas of paradise.”
In my lifetime, I have traveled much of the world and have seen many places – both nice and not. However last week, we recently finished a much needed vacation to Magical Maui. In a few words – I have never had such an amazing trip in all of my life. This place is simply unbelievable in it’s beauty, majesty, and unparalleled in it’s affect on my mind and soul. Yes, I have heard many others rave about Maui and the other Hawaiian Islands. I’ve even been to a couple others including many other tropical islands and locations throughout the planet. Magical Maui has no equivalent in any way.
The Ocean is not only as warm as any pool you’ve ever been in, it is also as clear. This is immediately recognized as you fly in to Kahului Airport and see the turquoise bays contasting the deep blues of the deeper seas. However, it is not truly realized until you step into the water along any of Maui’s beautiful beaches. First, you notice that you might as well be standing in the world’s biggest bath tub with pillowish sand for a base. Even the tallest of us can see our toes wiggle in the sand with a clarity unimaginable until you’ve seen it.
After marveling at the sights immediately beneath you and looking around at the sheer beauty of your immediate surrounding (which almost makes you dizzy with awe), the draw of the sea tugs at your will and insists that you see what is hidden beneath her shimmering surface.
The snorkeling and scuba diving in Magical Maui is world-class! Visibility in the tens of yards is realistic and offers views into the underwater world better than any aquarium you have ever seen. We were amazed as we swam among schools of tropical fish and castles of coral vibrant with color and surging with life. It would be impossible to not feel in touch with nature and the life of the sea. However, should you need prodding, a smiling sea turtle is likely to startle you on your swim – snapping you into the reality that Yes – You really are swimming in the seas of paradise.
For the visitors who are more “land inclined”, a MUST for them is the ultimate road trip along the “Road to Hana.” This drive along the north eastern section of the island really is the definition of “its the trip, not the destination.” It’s not the snap-back winding turns that will make your head spin, it is the amazing George of the Jungle scenery lining both sides of the winding road to Hana.
The entire (one way) trip is only approximately 45 miles, but this trip can definitely last all day (or more) depending on how often you stop to enjoy the rushing waterfalls or winding trails or rain forest pools that are dotted along the winding road. The beauty of this side of Magical Maui and the sights to be seen and explored are worth taking a day out of and off the ocean and beach. As tempting as it may be to stay in the sea all day, every day – the Road to Hana should be near the top of your list of “must do’s.”
Along the Northwestern coast of Magical Maui lies the world famous Honolua Bay. Well known for both world-class surfing during the high surf north swell winter months and equally for it’s top notch diving and snorkeling, we decided on visiting Honolua Bay on our second day. So enthralled were we that we invested two days in this area of the Magical Maui coast.
Driving North along the curved and winding coastal road from Ka’anapali, your first glimpse of Honolua Bay is from a turn-out along the left hand side of the road. There you get an idea of why this place is so well known for it’s snorkeling and diving. Being a marine protected area, the coral reefs shine from beneath the calm ocean bay. Seeing that sight and knowing what lies beneath quickly chases you into your car as you finish the short few miles to a road side parking spot hidden under a canopy of trees.
Anxious to get out into the ocean, I nearly didn’t notice the beauty surrounding me. The trail to the beach leads you through a deeply forested area that is somehow a cross between Avatar and Jurassic Park. As you walk along the trail and give a nod to the other explorers, you wonder if the smoke wafting off some of the others walking down the trail is starting to get to you. “What is that noise? Was that a Chicken?!?!” Don’t worry… Sure enough the forest is filled with (maybe) hundreds of wild chickens…
While we actually had better snorkeling on other parts of the island, Honolua Bay does stand out in my mind and memories (not for the crazy chickens) for the sheer amount of life in the waters there. At one point, we were in a school of literally thousands of fish! (link) Also, this is where Carolina channeled her inner mermaid for her deepest dive yet! (link) (Truly impressive!!)
Also, if you are feeling adventurous, you can continue along the road (which gets a little more winding) to the Nakalele Blowhole. This impressive natural wonder is produced by naturally formed lava tubes that are filled with water by the crashing surf. The pressure generated and the force of the waves, creates a geyser like explosion every few seconds (or minutes) that is on par with some of the other well know geysers like Old Faithful (without the 45 minute wait!) Just be careful to not get too close, as the vacuum created by the retreating waves beneath the surface can easily suck you into the hole and easily result in serious harm or death. This didn’t stop a few other brave (or dumb) souls from getting a little too close for our comfort.
While Magical Maui is filled with dreamlike sights and experiences, Maui is also filled with many characters. It takes a special kind of person to pick up and move to Maui, and this form of “special” is often referred to as eccentricity. However, eccentricity doesn’t completely give way to a warm and genuine aloha spirit present in Maui more than the other Hawaiian islands and forms a type of “cool” that we thoroughly enjoyed. In short, the people here are amazing! (minus the occasional exhibitionist weirdo prowling the beaches 😉 )
Along the southeastern coast of the island and past the towns of Wailea and Makena, you can see remnants of “how it all began” in Maui within the dormant but still jagged lava lined shores. This creates an amazing contrast in the landscape as the beautiful blue ocean collides against razor sharp coastline formed during Haleakela’s last eruption in 1790.
Hidden within the lava fields are historic artifacts left by ancient Hawaiians who considered these areas “holy” (of sorts) and a connection to Pele herself. As tempting as it might be to take a piece of this home with you, please leave with your pockets as empty as they were when you arrived. It is strongly considered bad luck and an insult to the Gods for you to remove any part of this beach or the rocks and items along it’s shores.
As we were exploring the lava lined shores, I couldn’t help but notice a perfectly formed wave crashing further down the coast as the trade winds blew a fabulous off shore spray from the top of it’s tenuous peak. Being a surfer (albeit one who no longer surfs as much as he would like), I couldn’t help but marvel at what looked like a wave directly out of Surfer Magazine.
We decided to hike down the beach (link) nearly two miles towards what I was seeing.
What we stumbled upon was La Perouse Bay. This spot is one of the best on the island and also one not often surfed by many. For the waves to break, they need to be at least 8 to 10 feet tall and have 20+ foot faces. Watching the handful of guys out there enjoying these waves, I was wishing that I had brought my surfboard, all the while the younger man in my mind was insisting that we would not get cut to shreds by the razor sharp reef below the surface of the break zone. Perhaps some other time…
As our trip was coming to a close and it was time to leave Magical Maui, I was confronted by a mixed up swirl of emotions. I was very sad to be leaving. I was so entirely happy that we decided to come to Maui. I was fighting the urge to run away from my everyday life and stay in Maui forever. I was dreading returning to reality. And, I was hoping that this glimpse of paradise hadn’t forever jaded me against future trips and other travels to come.
One thing I did and do know for sure was/is that I will return to Maui. It will be very soon. And maybe, just maybe, I will (one day) be one of those eccentrically cool “crazies” who left their world behind to live forever in the paradise of Magical Maui…..
(…. minus the thong, funny hat, and umbrella – of course… or perhaps… 😉 )