Day 1 - We arrived in Kahului, Maui on Sunday evening after a long day of traveling. Everything went smoothly until it came to finding our hotel in Kihei. I had "MapQuest-ed" some directions before we left and they were completely wrong! Thankfully one of our maps was able to get us to our final destination :) Our hotel grounds were beautiful, complete with dozens of coconut palms and a Maui-shaped pool - not to mention being right across the street from the ocean where we saw many a Maui sunset. The hotel itself was pretty old and dated, but we were happy with it and would definitely go back. The town of Kihei felt perfect - laid back with a good mix of locals and tourists. We were close to a lot of great beaches and we also felt pretty centrally located on the island.
The view from our hotel room lanai (patio):
Day 2 - Our first full day we found our way to Big Beach. It's a really long stretch of beach that is totally undeveloped.
Erik quickly realized that he only had to go out a few metres in the water before he found coral and tons of tropical fish. So, out came the snorkelling gear. My first experience of snorkelling was actually quite humorous. First lesson learned - don't put on the flippers until you're IN the water! Do you know how hard it is to walk on sand with those things - and then get past the breaking waves... ? We must've looked so funny. In fact, I know we did because when we saw other tourists do the same thing later on in the week, it looked hilarious. Once we finally managed to get in the water, it was time to put on the snorkelling mask. I had a really tough time with this. I'm a nose-breather and so the mask felt suffocating since I had to rely on my mouth breathing through a tube. I felt like I was hyper-ventilating! So there we were in water too deep for me to reach and I'm literally panicking, but laughing hysterically at the same time. The combination of having to keep myself afloat and breathe through that suffocating tube proved to be too stressful for me, so Erik got the boogie board for me to float on. That helped me relax and breathe a bit more normally. Once I actually got out there and saw the amazing fish I was glad I had perservered!
I borrowed this picture from the internet since snorkelling was the one thing we couldn't get pictures of (we did end up buying an underwater camera later in our trip but the pictures didn't do it justice!). This gives you an idea of what we spent a lot of our time doing (and seeing):
Day 3 - We went exploring across to West Maui where it is much more resort-ish. We tried to find Kapalua Bay and didn't have luck that day, but we ended up on another beach in Ka'anapali which was so fun. More snorkelling was had there which was cool until we saw a really disgusting snake-like thing on the ocean floor. It kind of freaked me out so I went back to the beach for awhile :)
We drove back and stopped at a little beach just south of Lahaina where Erik boogie boarded for a little while. I sat on the beach watching the surfers and some humpback whales in the distance.
Day 4 - We chose this day to take the drive down the Hana Highway which is a full-day's trip on a windy road that takes you to the town of Hana and then on to Halakeala National Park. The distance itself is only about 50 miles, but the road is slow going and there are lots of stops to make on the way - watching surfers, checking out waterfalls, hiking down to a black sand beach, etc...
Many beautiful views from East Maui:
The scene at Wainapanapa State Park:
The day started out great, but ended off bad. You have to drive back the same way you came, so driving on the way home starts to feel a little old. You've already seen everything and you're just ready to be done! Erik was even feeling car-sick from all the twists and turns on the highway. So, we decided to stop and stretch for a few minutes and that's when the worst happened. I climbed back into the car and pulled my door shut, when - crunch! I looked down and realized that the camera had slipped out of it's unzipped case around my shoulder and ended up between the car door and the car. The display screen was totally wrecked and wouldn't display any images except a big black streak. I felt terrible and Erik was trying really hard not to be upset at me, but we drove the next half hour in silence. It was awful. In the end we decided to stop at Costco and buy ourselves a cheap digital - we just needed a way of taking pictures for the rest of the trip. After it was purchased we made the collective decision to put it behind us and not let it ruin our week. And by the evening we were feeling much better about the whole thing.
Day 5 - This was the best day by far - we both agree. Earlier in the week we had made the decision to book ourselves for a 6-hour snorkelling trip. There was a bit of trepidation on both of our parts - Erik doesn't really do boats, and I was a little worried about the whole snorkelling part after my first experience. But, boy were we ever glad we went through with it!
We boarded the boat at 6:30 am with about 60 other people. We ate breakfast in the harbour while the sun was rising and everyone was boarding.
Then we took an hour-long ride to get to our first snorkelling destination. We were barely out of the harbour when we saw our first pod of humpback whales. They were swimming so fast - our guide said there were probably several males chasing a female.
The first stop was Molokini crater. It's best seen from an aerial view, so I snatched this picture from the internet to show you.
The water there was crystal clear and it made for amazing snorkelling. I was pleased to learn that the boat cruise provided floatation devices to wear for swimming and it made for a stress-free experience for me :) It was absolutely beautiful - so many different fish and coral.
After about an hour we headed to our next stop dubbed "Turtle Town" for its high population of sea turtles. On our way there we were joined by a pod of spinner dolphins. It was amazing! They kept their distance at first, but then suddenly they were surrounding the boat, jumping and diving all over the place!
"Turtle Town" lived up to it's name and we saw a couple of massive turtles. They are really huge and a little freaky to see for the first time, but it was beautiful and totally worth it. After we finished there we started back to the harbour, eating a BBQ lunch on the way and chatting with the other passengers.
That evening we headed up to Lahaina to check out the cool shops and have supper. We ended up eating at "Bubba Gump's":
Day 6 - After consulting our Lonely Planet Maui guide (which was super-helpful) we found out how to get down to the beach we had been trying to find earlier in the week (Kapalua Bay). It was definitely a nice little spot.
It was a bit more of a crowded beach and there were lots of young families there as the water was shallow and sandy and the waves were small. Watching the little kids made us think of how much fun our own kids would have there - but when we saw how busy some of those parents were, we felt so blessed to be able to enjoy it without the added stress. We did find ourselves talking about the "next time" we come to Maui, and "when we bring the kids" :) I hope there will be a next time!
We drove up the west coast a little bit further that afternoon and stopped at DT Fleming Beach. The waves there were a little bit more intense and after watching the boogie boarders for about 15 minutes, Erik decided he had to go in! I had fun watching the action from the beach and managed to get a video of him catching one of the waves.
Day 7 - Our last full day! Oh so sad :( We went back to Big Beach that morning.
Our flights home went as scheduled, but flying through the night was not something I wish to do again! I have become a nervous flyer and there was quite a bit of turbulence on that flight. Plus, we happened to be seated right beside the bathrooms. So, if I did manage to relax enough to fall asleep I was woken up every few minutes by the thunderous flushing of an airplane toilet. When we finally got to Seattle I felt sick with exhaustion and we still had one more flight to go. After a little catnap on the last flight and a cup of Timmy's in Aldergrove I was feeling a bit more like myself.