Thanksgiving in Hana

Thursday, Nov. 28, Thanksgiving. We took the long road to Hana to meet up with Erin, a gal we had connected with on We found a private jaunt along a little hike, spent some time enjoying the ambiance of Twin Falls and, after a few hours of driving on a twisty road (I drove to keep my motion sickness in check) we arrived to the undeveloped, isolated paradise of Hana.


What followed was a bit of a comedy of errors. We went to a farm that Erin had told us to meet her at only to discover she wasn’t there. The guys there were a friendly lot and told us to come back in a few hours, when she was expected to return. We had no luck connecting with her via phone or email so spent some time having Thanksgiving dinner at the lone restaurant that was open that evening, Travasa Restaurant. Their dining experience is described as a celebration of life and the bounty of the earth that nourishes us body and soul. Unfortunately for us, it was also above our budget and so we ordered small plates from the bar. I had three delectable, zesty prawns that, we decided, were as far from traditional thanksgiving dinner fare as one could possibly get.

As we were munching and enjoying the dancing by women made more graceful with age do solo dances to the live, Hawaiian band, we had the forethought to ask the server if they happened to know Erin, hoping that, it being a small town, there was a chance she might. We were surprised to find that not only did she know Erin, Erin was working there this evening! We finally met our host for the evening and exchanged big, patchouli smelling, hugs. She explained how to get to her house, which involved unmarked roads, a very long driveway and an “overgrown lawn” that, in reality, turned out to be a forest.


She wouldn’t be able to join us back to Chez Erin but would meet us there in a few hours, after she got off work, so we set out to find her place alone. Using our spidey senses, we located the large craftsman house amidst of jungle of papaya trees and foliage. Upon entering, we found a crowd of about 20 folks, crowded together in the living room. Erin had mentioned roommates but this was more than we had bargained for. I remember two people in particular. A mother, daughter duo who were sharing a joint and giggling to each other. The bedrooms were spoken for and the couch space was filling up fast, hippies were passing out where they lay, so we opted to set up our tent in the jungle, aka their backyard. I clutched my sleeping bag as Tom told me scary stories and a gnarly storm tore at our tent walls, the wind wailing like a crying child.


The next morning, we woke early and spent the day enjoying the many natural delights in Hana. We hiked 7 sacred pools, ‘ohe’o gulch trail, and followed a tiny, precarious path out to the Red Sand Beach, and hiked to Waimoku falls through a tantalizing bamboo forest. All the while, we picked produce from trees and cracked open the coconuts we found, hoping for a refreshing taste of the sweet, sweet water within. Later, we made our way back to mainstream Maui, feeling the touch of Hana’s wild beauty upon us as we left.





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.


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

A post shared by Rachael Quisel (@ujjayi_breath) on

and here’s Red Sand beach!


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.


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


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)


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.