Maui Paradise

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Jul 16th, 2007, 09:49 AM
  #1
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Maui Paradise


Frankly, dear, I am disappointed Ė was my first thought when I finally got to Maui. I could not understand why people raved about the islandís beauty when it looked no different than Floridaís Keys or Californiaís Highway 1. It was not until my road trip to Hana that I finally realized the true beauty of Maui.

Sightseeing

Trip to Hana
The road to Hana runs through the mountains, often on a cliff hanging above a scenic view of the Pacific. The highway is rather narrow so I have to stop and yield to the oncoming traffic. Although the speed limit is only 15-20 miles per hour, I am tempted to race. I am glad that the convertible I am driving is not fully loaded with racing equipment and hauls his fat body like an old grandma. I stay within the speed limit trying to enjoy the view.

The first stop I make is the Twin Waterfalls. I get fresh coconut juice and begin my hike. While I am walking through a jungle of wild plants it starts raining creating an atmosphere of a rain forest. It is only 8 AM but the path is full of travelers. A mile later I get to the site, take off my shoes and walk through the stream to get to the falls. I finally understand why the locals complain about the drought when I see water barely making its way through the rocks and grass to the basin at the bottom. Not even the slightest evidence of the second fall. Those brave ones jump into the basin. I stay on the shore trying to capture the details of the site, imaging the dramatic sounds to be made by both falls in their full power.

The next stop is Gardens of Eden, an arboretum with amazing local flowers and a site that everybody saw in the Jurassic Park movie. Itís perfect. Almost too perfect to be true, so I continue my journey.

When I finally get to Hana, I am overwhelmed with hunger. I stop at a little café operated by a French woman and enjoy the taste of fresh home-made sandwiches. Thatís another typical element of Mauiís environment Ė everybody is from somewhere: the Mainland, Europe, even Ukraine. I donít think I have met a true aboriginal yet, except for that bum in the park who thought he was God.

I donít bother to explore Hana itself as the town is not very intriguing for a creative mind. I focus on finding the Red Sand Beach that I once read about in a book about teleporting. The beach is part of a private property and is not advertised so it becomes a challenge to find it. I like challenges I tell myself while making my way through a forgotten cemetery and hiking over the mountain on a slippery path (in flip-flops!) to find those beautiful red sands mixed with rocks left by the volcanic explosion. When I finally get to the end of the trail I stand there amazed by the raw and remote beauty of the exposed view. Earthy red cliffs hang above the deep maroon sand and turquoise blue lagoon that looks like a giant natural bath tub full of mad bubbles. Because of its rather discrete location, the beach serves as a hide-away for local hippies, nudists and appreciators of marijuana.

I decide to find the Black Sand beach in the Waianapanapa State Park not only to see a black volcanic pebble beach but to also explore the secret hiding place of an ancient Hawaiian princess. The doomed princess, according to the legend, found her peace in an icy cave pool through a tunnel of interlocking Polynesian hau branches. The beach is not crowded and yet somehow I run into my fellow-countryman.

Haleakala Hike
I drive to the Haleakala Park National Park to see the craters. Once I get to the park I start my hike at the point where the clouds meet the earth. I am surrounded by a complete fog and arctic breath of a painful wind mixed with rain that paints my cheeks into purple colors within seconds.

Enough of that I think to myself, get into the car and continue my drive all the way to the top of the island where altitude reaches beyond 10 000 ft. I get there and hike more until I finally reach the peak. I am amazed. I feel so peaceful as if the entire universe is mine. I suddenly feel an extreme urge to pray and meditate.

I then hike to another view point to see the craters. It is absolutely unbelievable that these humongous piles of sands once were powerful volcanoes. There is a cabin inside one of the craters for the brave campers to rest. I decide to check it out next time.

Daily Things

Days in Maui start at 5.45 AM for me. I cannot sleep even though I should be taking a full advantage of this opportunity. I drink coffee and go for a long walk on the beach. The atmosphere is very laid back, and pleasant, almost hippie. No Harvard complicated words, no Miami show off. Most of the cars driven by the locals are older and practical. Houses are wooden and low, aka extreme build-up activity on top of each house.

I discover Jazz Java café close by and visit it almost every day to enjoy live piano tunes over dinner. The design of the cafe is pretty wild Ė naked Barbie dolls in a cage with a naked Ken atop. I alternate the jazz café with a fabulous sushi restaurant Sansei. Itís a pity they donít have a terrace but the food is great.

I go to a flee market to check out local activities. Maui Swap Meet takes place every Saturday in Kahului and is full of crafts, arts, jewelry, food, etc. Itís worth the drive as I get a deal on the hand painted rind.

Adventure

The highlight of my trip was paragliding when attached to the parachute I soared above the island. It was liberation. I probably would not recommend this activity for those who have already tried skydiving as it is very similar but shorter.

I also hiked and ziplined (40 m/h) through the eucalyptus forest.

Tourist Traps

Do not get trapped into the activities advertised on every corner of Lahaina as the amount spent is just not worth the quality of the attraction. The semi-submarine tour I somehow got on was a complete nonsense. I saw more diverse fish population while snorkeling. Hula all-you-can-eat-and-drink event reminded me of Lubyís cafeteria where some unorganized street performers make unsuccessful attempts to throw confused dance moves and make up for the poor quality of food. And drinks! I finally learned the taste of a virgin MaiTai.

It is worth investing in a good guide book and starting an adventure in the Hawaiian Paradise yourself.

http://bachity.com/blog/?p=88

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Jul 16th, 2007, 11:59 AM
  #2
Ag3046
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The semi-submarine trip serves a purpose. My 80 year old mother could not possibly snorkel or swim, and she wanted to see what we saw underwater. She loved it! I was really pleased that she could enjoy it. It was a nice trip.

I've found it's not necessary to be a big snob about everything. We also really enjoyed the Old Lahaina Luau, and even just going to the art fair under the Banyan tree in Lahaina.

 
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Jul 16th, 2007, 12:04 PM
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Ag3046
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What I notice is that Maui is a great place for families, with all age groups to be together to enjoy each other's company. Some tourist activities are silly for one age, but perfect for another. Personally, I think ziplines and ATV rides are useless ways to separate tourists from their money, but that's just my opinion. My mother has really had fun with some of the silliest tourist stuff, and I just loved seeing her happy!
 
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Jul 16th, 2007, 01:22 PM
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Batchity,

This is what I didn't do the road to Hana. I wished I would have for I was left with your first thoughts. This is like Southern California. IF I return I will not miss the road to Hana.
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Jul 16th, 2007, 01:26 PM
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Sounds like you managed to have a pretty good time despite being disappointed. Seems like you made lemonade, pretty sweet and tasty lemonade.

Too bad you didn't explore Hana more, plenty of native Hawaiians there. Creative ones, too.
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Jul 16th, 2007, 01:28 PM
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diann,

How long did the cruise ship give you to explore Maui?
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Jul 16th, 2007, 03:06 PM
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2 full days. I believe we got into port at 7 a.m. and left 2 days later at 9p.m. I am so sad I didn't do the road to Hana. I am allready longing to go back. Next time I will.
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Jul 16th, 2007, 03:50 PM
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How can anyone possibly say that Maui looks no different than the Florida Keys?

Didn't you notice right away that the Keys are very flat and Maui is very mountainous?
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Jul 16th, 2007, 03:54 PM
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I have been to the Florida Keys and no I didn't feel the resemblance at all. It is Southern California the coast line, La Jolla Sunset Cliffs, (San Diego) where the mountains meet the oceans, or cliffs meet the oceans. Yes Maui was mostly like Southern Calif.
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Jul 16th, 2007, 03:55 PM
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Like FL????? I don't think so. We spend 5 mos/yr in FL. Nothing like Maui or the rest of HI for that matter! Did you notice the mts??? Sorry to be cantankerous but couldn't believe the comparison.
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Jul 16th, 2007, 04:28 PM
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I'm sorry, but Maui is like...MAUI!
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Jul 16th, 2007, 06:30 PM
  #12
kealalani
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Thanks for your most interesting observations of the island bachity!!! One thing for sure, is you certainly made the best of it. ...sweet and tart lemondade!

And your final thoughts after your false first impressions? Does the other Maui call you? Did you do the west side? I love that almost as much as the Hana drive. But nothing beats hanging local in Hana talking story, watching little league!!!
 
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Jul 22nd, 2007, 03:46 PM
  #13
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Dear Readers,

I appreciate your feedback. Perhaps during my next visit to Maui I will explore Hana and do other things that I was not able to.

I enjoyed certain aspects of the trip while thought that the others were somewhat ordinary. What I learned at the end is that each traveler has his own expectations and sees things through a completely different set of spectacles.

I tried to show that those who do not like "touristy traps" should not waste their time and money on the activities but instead take advantage of Maui's better places.

I definitely agree with Ag3046 that Maui is more of a family destination.
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