Playing Favorites

With its smooth sand, clear waters, gentle breezes, and palm tree-lined backdrop, it’s no surprise that this beach is probably my FAVORITE beach on Maui. I know, I know, it seems like I have a few favorites with pretty much everything that I consider “favorite-worthy”, but I went to this beach quite a few times on our recent visit, and I know that it will be one of my first stops when I go back.

Enough talking, enjoy swooning…

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NapiliBeach3

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Anyone want to join me?

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A Detour

Have you ever plugged an address into your GPS only to end up at the wrong destination? No? Okay, moving on… ;-)

For the record, the destination we were trying to reach was called Napili Beach and I mistakenly thought that the directions to Napili Bay would suffice. (I mean it makes sense that Napili Beach would be adjacent to Napili Bay, right?) To complicate matters, the directions to Napili Bay ended on Hui Road, and Napili Beach was located on Hui Drive.

Confused yet? 

When we arrived at the end of Hui Road I instantly knew that we were not in the correct location, but the small pathway that lead to the ocean had me intrigued…

Sometimes it’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey, and a few detours along the way aren’t so bad…

Napili Bay

Napili Bay

Napili Beach

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Open Water

It is finally happening! I am so excited to announce that today after work I FINALLY signed up for my Open Water Certification Training.

I took a Scuba Diving course in college and it was hands down my favorite class EVER. Move aside Corporate Finance, Managerial Accounting, and Macro Economics, Scuba Diving is where it’s at. Snowboarding was a fun class too, but that’s a topic for another day. ;-) Unfortunately, due to unknown circumstances, the class would fulfill my elective requirements for graduation but it would not certify students for actual diving. (Talk about a letdown!)

I took that class over five years ago. And for the last five years, getting my certification has not only been on my bucket list (and my 101 in 1001 goals for that matter) but it has also been a constant thought in the back of my mind. I have decided that it is time for the procrastination to stop. No more excuses. I begin my class next month and I hope you’ll follow along as I post about my experiences with the Open Water Certification course.

The best part about it: I will finish the class with a few weeks to spare before heading off to Hawaii. Expect this blog to incorporate more scuba diving experiences and (hopefully) some awesome underwater photos.

ScubaPhoto Credit

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Whale Watching on Maui

If you head to Hawaii during the months of December through April, whale watching is a MUST. How often do you have the incredible opportunity of seeing Humpback Whales frolicking near one of their favorite wintertime playgrounds? The clear waters off Maui attract hundreds of whales each year due to the protected waters and shallower ocean depths (so far this season, there have been over 1,300 whale sightings). And can you blame them? After a 3,000 mile journey from the cold Alaskan waters, I think Maui sounds like the perfect place to relax for the winter. We had so much fun on our whale watch while we were in Kauai last winter that we booked another tour while we were in Maui.

I decided to book through the Pacific Whale Foundation as the company received rave reviews on Trip Advisor and Maui Revealed. Maybe it was an off day for the Pacific Whale Foundation, but at first I was unimpressed.

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Unimpressed… (My thoughts exactly, McKayla!) ;-)

Photo credit

It could have been the unfriendly staff at check-in, or it could have been the 120+ passengers stuffed into the boat that day; for the record, they were compliant as the maximum capacity is 147 passengers, but it still felt like there were wayyyyy too many people on board.

Regardless of the rough start that morning, once we were onboard I can say that I thoroughly enjoyed being out on the water. Nothing could damper my spirits–even if I was sharing my own personal bubble with the stranger standing too close. ;-)

Whale Watching

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And the best part was, of course, the WHALES! I probably don’t have to mention how much I loved seeing the beautiful Humpback Whales. It’s such a rush to see a giant 45-ton animal swimming near the boat and the feeling you experience when you see one of these majestic creatures propelling themselves out of the water is indescribable. It’s one of those moments that you will never forget.

If I were to choose the Pacific Whale Foundation for another whale watch I would book a tour on one of the rafts in their fleet in order to have a more personal experience. However, next time, I may try another company all together. For now, enjoy the whales…

Momma and her calf

Momma and her calf

Whale Watching

A friendly whale waving Hello!

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Amazing!

Amazing!

End of a Whale Breach

End of a Whale Breach

Thanks to Cody for taking the amazing photos above! :)

Have you been whale watching on Maui? Which company did you book through?

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The Boardwalk Along the Ocean

Front Street: six blocks of shopping, restaurants, art galleries, parks, museums, and boardwalks, provide plenty of opportunities to spend an afternoon souvenir-hunting, soaking up some sun, and enjoying delicious food. I mean seriously, does it get any better than shopping along the ocean? 

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When the sun goes down the atmosphere along Front Street is energetic. Because there are so many people (and so much going on at night) I have found it easiest to park in one of the many parking lots near Front Street and then walking to my destination of choice.

There are many great shops along Front Street, but some of my regular stops include (starting at the North end): Bubba Gump Shrimp, Honolua Surf Company, Ululani’s Shave Ice (that’s a given!), Lahaina Pizza Company, Honolulu Cookie Company, and all the local booths at The Banyan Tree.

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The Banyan Tree

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Have you been to Front Street? What are some of your favorite places along this famous street?

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A Maui Tradition-The Old Lahaina Luau

Old Lahaina Luau

Without a doubt, The Old Lahaina Luau is the best Luau on Maui–at least according to all the reviews. The one regret that we had on our first trip to Maui was that we didn’t attend this luau. When planning our honeymoon we thought, “We went to a luau on Kauai, we don’t need to go to another one this time,” however, once we arrived on the island we wished that we had made a reservation for this popular event. Unfortunately, the Old Lahaina Luau sells out weeks and sometimes months in advance so we missed our chance on the first attempt.

When we decided to go back to Maui for Christmas, we both agreed that it was time to attend another Luau. We didn’t want it to sell out again, so we made our reservations two months out. (Just a tip: supposedly, the earlier you book, the better your seat).

The night of the luau we checked in as two ukulele players sang and entertained the guests. We were greeted a friendly “Aloha!”, a fragrant bright pink and white lei, and a strong Mai Tai (they also had non-alcoholic versions available for the kids). We were shown to our seats and then encouraged to check out the open bar and explore the grounds.

Beautiful presentation

Beautiful presentation

The Old Lahaina Luau grounds are immaculate. The backdrop of swaying palm trees, sailboats, expansive ocean views, and the offshore islands created a peaceful scenery. We enjoyed the sunset while sipping on Mai Tai’s and watching other guests learn how to hula dance, basket weave, and play the ukulele.

Old Lahaina

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I always worry about getting paired up with random strangers at a dinner table (you never know who you’re going to sit by) but we hit the jackpot that night. We sat across the table from two sisters originally from England. Throughout the night we learned about how they grew up in England, and how one now lives in Canada and the other lives in New Zealand, which makes Hawaii a good meeting point. :) The other four seats were taken up by a family from Texas. (Uh, hello! I’m a Cowboys fan! Clearly, we were instant best friends! Even though the husband was a Denver Broncos fan) ;) The conversation flowed easily that night, which made our evening that much more enjoyable.

Luau

The thing I really enjoyed about the Old Lahaina Luau was that it focused on the traditions of the Hawaiian people. The hula dances take you through centuries of history explaining how the hula was created, how it changed over the years, and the hula in today’s society. The performers were exceptional and the costumes (or lack thereof ;-) ) were extravagant. Even though this luau does not include the flashy fire dancing like some of the other performances, I enjoyed the more traditional approach.

For just over $100 we had dinner and entertainment for the entire evening. The service was better than excellent, the drinks were strong, the food was traditional Hawaiian fare and delicious, and the performances were magnificent.

Right along the ocean

Flower Lei

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The Road to Hana: An Unforgettable Sunset

Slightly tired from our amazing hike, and with only a couple of hours until sundown we began our drive along the backside of Haleakala. Most visitors turn around after the Seven Sacred Pools, so it was intriguing to me to see a place that most don’t see during their visit.

From my research, I knew that this road was narrow. So narrow, that at times, there is only room for one car. These stretches of road have a tall rock cliff on one side and on the other side is a small guard-rail to offer some protection from plunging into the ocean below. Narrow. Steep. Scary. Sounds like fun to me! :)

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Be sure to Honk your horn around the blind corners.

Be sure to Honk your horn around the blind corners.

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Backside

We made it through the scary parts well before sunset, which was my biggest concern, and after the one-lane death-defying stretches of road, you are treated to miles and miles of washboard hell dirt road. I wasn’t surprised by the condition of the dirt road, because the guidebooks warn of the washboarding (I know, that’s not a word) but the five miles of intermittent paved and dirt road felt more like twenty miles after about ten minutes or so. (Go ahead and roll your eyes ;-) I’m being a bit dramatic.)

Regardless of the road condition, I would take this drive again in a heartbeat as we enjoyed expansive views all down the coast and only passed a few cars along our drive. It was nice to get away from all the cars and all the people on the Hana Highway and take a drive at our own pace. Typically the backside of Haleakala is very, very dry and somewhat unappealing, however, in an exceptional stroke of luck, Maui revealed her very best yet again. We felt extremely lucky, and somewhat spoiled, because Maui was sooo green.

A typical South Maui Drive... very, very dry.

A typical South Maui Drive… very, very dry.

Photo Credit

The photo on the left is from Maui Revealed--on a typical South Maui day. The photo on the right is my photo of the same section of road.

The photo on the left is from Maui Revealed showing the typical dryness of the region. The photo on the right is my photo on the same section of road. Unusually GREEN!

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As sunset approached, our luck continued. We found ourselves near the remote, unnamed, black sand beach as the golden sun dipped below the horizon. We parked the car and realized that we were the only car in sight. It was an incredible experience to view the sunset from a remote location on the backside of a dormant volcano. This sunset was the kind of sunset that would make anyone stop in their tracks and admire the beauty unfolding before their eyes. We watched in silence as the golden sun transformed the sky into shades of pink, purple, and blue right before our eyes.

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Backside-sunset

The seclusion, combined with the striking scenery, and the beautiful sunset, will go down as one of the most memorable sunsets I’ve ever witnessed. In that moment, it was as if this sunset happened just for us.

Backside-sunsetHave you made the drive all the way around Haleakala?

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