Maui Wowie

T and I spent 3 weeks on Maui, the Valley Isle, which is the 2nd largest island in the Hawaiian chain. Maui is known for long stretches of beautiful beaches and the landmark Haleakala Crater, the House of the Sun, which is a now dormant volcano (the only active volcano in the islands is on the big island, Hawaii). The summit depression is 21 miles across, and 4,000 feet deep, large enough to hold the island of Manhattan! Tom and I hiked to the top (Maui’s highest point) via the Crater Rim Trail, which is a 5 mile hike with 1,600ft gain in elevation.

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We stayed overnight at a total of 7 different places through couchsurfing, camping and AirBnB’ing spending only $1,254 total for  accomodations (which is proportionately much less than our rent in NYC) and nearly completed a circuit around the island. Each place offered uniquely pleasant experiences and surprises. A few of the highlights are the fresh pineapple waiting in the room for us when we arrived at the Tiny Cabin located in the quaint upcountry town of Makawao, enjoying Garrett & Crystal’s company in their beautiful home in Pukalani, meeting Jamie & her daughter, Kaya, who taught us how to properly open, drink and nom on a coconut and last, but not least, sharing a 2 bedroom condo with our ‘frainds’ Laci & John at the Grand Champions Resort in Wailea (more on that in another post!)

 T’s highlights & gratitude’s

The three miles of white sand and crystal clear water at Ka’anapali beach offered T & me a playground for acro & snorkeling as well as a canvas for our sand sculpture – the green sea turtle! People all along the beach hiked over to check it out – we were so proud :3.

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Sneaking into the Hyatt regency resort hot tub & dining at Mala Ocean tavern with Jon, a friend we made through paragliding and an amazing guy with tons of great ideas on how to make the world a better place.

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Exploring the Iao Valley, aka “cloud supreme”, a lush, stream-cut valley in West Maui where T picked passion fruit from the trees along the unofficial  hiking trail which crested the ridge, giving us spectacular views of the 1200-foot Iao Needle.

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The cerulean blue water of the many beaches, this short vid is from Big Beach….

#Sunset #Romantic #Maui

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and here’s Red Sand beach!

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R’s highlights & gratitude’s

Sunning, swimming & hot-tubbing at Grand Champions resort villa (our paragliding friend, Vin, broke his ribs (while mountain biking not flying) so he and his gf, Lauren, joined us for a few nights of hot-tubbin’ – so much good times).

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Hiking the waihou spring trail (moderate, 1.7 miles). Along the trail there were monterey cypress and eucalyptus trees, as well as the native tree species `ala`a, halapepe, and koa. The trail ended on a ridge top offering views of the Central Valley.

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Pineapple upside down cake at Hali’imaile & Pineapple wine tasting at Tedeschi Winery

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Visit to Paia, which is a reflection of Maui’s history as a booming sugar cane plantation town with its old plantation style wooden buildings still intact, T & I  stopped at Ono Gelato for their infamous (and very yummy) sandy beach gelato.

Taking the ‘Road to Hana’ which has 620 curves and 59 bridges, most of which are single-lane bridges – along which we played in the waterfalls, sniffed the tropical flowers, hiked through bamboo forests, and marveled at the spectacular scenery. Waimoku Falls, this gigantic waterfall drops 400-feet down a sheer lava rock wall into a boulder-strewn pool.

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We found a heart :3

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Hiking the Pipiwai trail (this name delighted T)

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We stayed overnight in Hana camping on the front lawn of a friendly yet ‘tuned out’ couch surfing host who nearly left us to sleep in our car on Thanksgiving.  Keeping the tent up in the rainstorm (and ignoring the creepy screaming noises that kept waking us up) proved to make the night spent camping there a bit of a harrowing experience (and probably the closest thing to a thorn that we experienced during the time period this post covers!). Thankfully, things worked out (sorta) and T & I had scrumptious shrimp for our T-giving dinner while enjoying live music and hula dancing.

Couchsuring & Camping on Kona

What is Couchsurfing? For the founders, it was vision of a world made better by travel and travel made richer by connection. Couchsurfering isn’t just about a free place to stay, it’s about sharing your life with new people from all of the world as well as fostering cultural exchange and mutual respect.

The couchsurfing.org site provides a platform for members to “surf” on couches by staying as a guest at a host’s home, host travelers, or join an event. In March 2013, the website had 6 million members in 100,000 cities worldwide. Tom & I have had an account for close to a year now (our cs account) and have hosted and/or met people from Germany, Belgium and Seattle. 

Our first surfing experience was in Kailua-Kona, the center of commerce and of the tourist industry on West Hawaiʻi. Our generous host, along with his partner and son, live on an acre of land with a starfruit tree, beautiful outdoor lanai, inground pool & a beer fridge full of local brews. Tom & and were absolutely spoiled by the experience and can’t wait to do it again on the other islands!

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T’s gratitude’s & highlights

Snorkeling at white Sands Beach (aka Magic Sands beach because the sand disappears at certain times during the year). Unlike many east coast beaches, the Big Islands beaches are full of natural shade trees that provide a perfect setting for watching the ethereal sunsets on the water.

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Sneaking into the Hilton Lagoon & bourgeois-ing it up. R practically ran head-first into an eel (much to T’s enjoyment)! While it is a terrifying-looking creature, I’m sure did not intend any harm (at least, I’m pretty sure it didn’t).

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R’s gratitude’s & highlights

While I’m not a proponent of keeping animals in cages (esp. when those animals are as intelligent as dolphins) it was incredible to be so close to them.

#dolphins are smarter than dogs (& cuter) @leafitalone

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Spending time sunning and swimming at Kahalu’u beach. T introducing me to snorkeling – the clear waters here are teeming with bright tropical fish & large green sea turtles.

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This sign.

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Hawaiians LOVE Spam. Hawaii consumes more Spam than any state in our union — in total, 7 million cans a year. I found Spam flavored macadamia nuts….it makes me happy just knowing they exist.

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After couchsurfing for 4 nights we camped out at Spencer Beach where we itroduced some island kids to s’mores. It’s not a thing here like it is on the mainland and the children flocked to us like seagulls to fish for the rest of the time we spent camping here. It was the most expensive camping experience so far ($40/night) BUT we bamboozled the park ranger and got two nights for the price of one. Small victories ;).

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….and the Thorn (quite literally)

Tom was attacked by a sea urchin! ….well, sorta. He accidentally kicked a reef during one of our snorkeling trips and the reef kicked back. Sometimes called sea hedgehogs, sea urchins are small, spiny, globular sea creatures and they are the self-imposed protectors of coral reefs. Their spines inflict a painful wound when they penetrate human skin, but are not dangerous if fully removed promptly – although the purple ones do tend to tattoo their victims (now both T & I have foot tattoos!). One panicked drive and visit to the ER later and things were back to relative normalcy, although I’ll never look at sea urchin the same way again. o.O

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