When the little old Hawaiian Airlines employee at the airport was announcing that we could upgrade our in-flight meal to a California Pizza Kitchen salad for $14, she would say "Mahalo" so quickly at the end I would almost miss it. "Mhlo," was more what it sounded like. Maybe not even that many letters. And it would make me giggle every time (she gave the announcement no less that 4 times in 10 minutes.) "Please bring your credit card and salad preference to the reservations desk at this time. Mhlo." Hahah. This was on our flight home, so at that point I heard about a thousand other mahalos during our trip, but hers were definitely my favorite.
Hawai'i is also my favorite. In particular, Maui is my favorite. Maui no ka 'oi. It felt like home to me, from the moment we stepped out of the plane to the very last moments we spent on our drive to the airport. I just wanted to find ourselves a little ohana and set up camp forever. Everything on my insides tells me I could be perfectly happy there (not to mention I could make this happen every day -- hello!), so I think that will be my new campaign. Maui or bust -- no hate in the 808.
If ever you are planning a trip to Maui, here are a 10 tips to help ensure that please-say-I-never-have-to-leave-this-paradise feeling. And if I have convinced Ty to move there with me by then, you can stay with us. And now, the tips:
1. Hike through at least one bamboo forest. And make sure to stop and listen when the wind picks up. The creaks and clicks will leave you wondering how you ever lived without all this enchantment in your life.
2. You MUST do the Na'ili'ili Haele Stream and Waterfalls hike. Must. Hurry quick, write this down: At mile marker 6.7 on the Road to Hana (hwy 360) pull to the side of the road. Hike into the Bamboo. Follow the trail downhill to the river, and make your way to the other side and find the trail head on your left at the bamboo forest. Hike up river through a series of five waterfalls. Expect mud, sketchy ladders, rock hopping, and full-submersion swimming. On the way back you get to jump three of the falls. You are welcome.
3. Pay special attention to the sand-throwing crabs at the beach. They are skidish and adorable and watching them warily crawl out of their holes (while constantly keeping an eye on you) and chuck their little balls of sand will keep you entertained for at least and hour.
4. Stop in Lahaina for Breakwall Shave Ice, Zushi and Elise Clothing Company (for that beach coverup or hat your forgot to bring), but stop for nothing else -- the rest of Lahaina will suck all the fun out of your day.
5. Free climb and jump at Black Rock in Kaanapali. Be sure to bring your climbing shoes though, cause that rock is SHARP. And you might slip and gash your shin a little bit, but just grab some polysporin at the local Long's Drugs (open 24 hours) for $5.79 and you will be sitting pretty. Also, be prepared to see manta rays and sea turtles at this beach because if you don't keep a keen eye they might just sneek up and touch you without you realizing they were even there. And being surprised touched by a sea turtle is quite the nerve racer, I tell you what.
6. Be sure to plan your trip when Maui is a-typically and exceptionally non-windy. You will get to stand-up paddle board past 11am, and when you take the Pride of Maui to Molokini to snorkel you will have 150+ feet of visibility along with ZERO other boats at the crater since you got to take the tour backwards (Turtle Town first then Molokini second -- booyah!). Special note: Turtle Town is lame. Molokini is awesome.
7. Since you are visiting Maui at an a-typically and exceptionally non-windy time, don't be sad when you can't go surfing because there are no waves. Just prep yourself for that now. And make sure to revel extra in all the amazing snorkeling you get to do instead.
8. Even if 2:00 a.m. seems a tad early, drag yourself out of bed to watch the sunrise at Haleakala. Then, after the angels stop singing from all the beauty you just witnessed, bike the 23 miles down the volcano in the early-morning calm and peace of the island. Heaven. Be sure to pay special attention to all the smells on your way down, cause this mountain smells amazing. And if you are hungry for breakfast during the middle of the ride down (which you will be), stop at the Kula Lodge to grab a No Ka Oi Omelet, Malted Belgian Waffle and a hot chocolate. You. will. not. be. sad. Be sure to book your tour through Haleakala Bike Company though, or you will be sad, because HBC is the only tour company that lets you ride down on your own, at your own pace and stopping as often as you want. (This post is not sponsored by Haleakala Bike Company).
9. If you are a runner, RUN. IN. MAUI. You will feel like a superhero, especially if you are coming from a high-altitude place. "I could run uphill for hours!" you will think as you are speeding up the trails with all that extra oxygen swirling through the air. The 4-mile Pipiwai Trail is perfect. Bamboo forests. Giant Banyan tree. Stunning waterfall. And plenty of people cheering as you pass the sweet little families and couples taking the trail to Waimoku Falls with you. Then, when you are done, take the .5-mile trail (conveniently located at the base of Pipiwai Trail) down to 7 Sacred Pools for some great swimming and rock jumping. Extra extra special note: Get to the 7 Sacred Pools by 10 a.m. to beat the crowds -- they start to swarm in about noon.
10. When you are driving the rest of the way home from 7 Sacred Pools along the south side (aka, the dry side) of the island, you will be starving and in the middle of nowhere and will happen upon Bully's Burgers. This delicious lone burger stand (which takes cards!) will make your freaking day. Delicious, affordable and built in memory of the sweet owner of the ranch who recently passed away.
Happy Maui-ing everyone! And now, since you made it all the way through the post, a little gift of a video for you. I call it "Ty and Turtle."