The beautiful Hawaiian island of Maui is breathtaking not only in the island’s appearance and natural landscape, but also in the tradition and culture. The concept of “Aloha” and “Ohana” holds precedent in the lives of Hawaiians as they demonstrate that love and respect flow through the roots of their customs.
Aloha, which is used as a greeting, a farewell, and an overall expression of respect, compassion, peace, and mercy, is prominent in the daily routines of the locals. The word and meaning behind the famous “Aloha” creates an island vibe that reverberates a message of love throughout the Hawaiian islands.
“Ohana means family, family means nobody gets left behind or forgotten”
– Lilo, ‘Lilo & Stitch’
On the other hand, Ohana is an expression of connection, a bond between individuals both blood and otherwise; it is a reminder to never forget those you hold dear and that cooperation is necessary in maintaining a life filled with aloha spirit.
The lands, waters, and spirits (animals, plants, and persons alike) are respected and honoured through different Hawaiian rituals, some of which I was lucky enough to experience firsthand in Maui with my own ohana.
The vast turquoise ocean to the one side and the rolling green landscape to the other, our Honua Kai suite overlooked the best of both worlds. The beachfront at the gorgeous resort offered a safe haven for the sea turtles and seals who swim and lay freely along the rocky cliff edge and shoreline.
A gentle reminder to all those who choose swim alongside the magnificent green sea turtles: please respect these creatures as they are an endangered species. Simply observe them and avoid touching these gentle giants. They are protected by both state and federal laws, to touch and harass them is a crime in Hawaii.
Although more tourist orientated than some of the other Hawaiian islands, Maui still embodies a very natural feel rather than that of a typical modern American state. Our trip was filled will Hula Pie (a Hawaiian dessert served at most restaurants in Hawaii), sunshine, and oh so many outdoor adventures.
WHAT TO DO:
GET ON THE WATER…OR UNDER IT!
There’s nothing I love more than spending a day on the water, so the catamaran and snorkelling excursion via Maui Adventure Cruises was a must! The boat sailed us away to the island of Lanai where a pod of spinner dolphins swam alongside us. We docked for lunch, eating barbecue in a cute little beach hut. We danced to salsa music as we geared up and headed to our snorkelling spot. Schools of vibrant fish swarmed around us, weaving in and out of the colourful coral reefs. Right before swimming back to the boat, our guide called to my brother and me, gesturing us to follow him.
As we swam away from the boat I began to see why he was bringing us further away from the crowd. The pod of spinners was approaching us, dancing through the hues of blue in the most majestical manner. They danced all around us effortlessly and free, playful and curious – a truly unforgettable moment forever engrained in my memory. Kicking off our flippers we put on our figurative dancing shoes and celebrated our day, cheering with rum punch as we headed back to shore.
As if that wasn’t enough excitement for one day, en route back, our captain spotted three whales breaching. The powerful and majestic creatures burst through the surf and flapped their tails in play. Our guides explained that we were extremely lucky to see this family since it was off season for the humpbacks.
All in all, the tour was absolutely outstanding, our guides went above and beyond to show us the best time, and the day was one for the books.
EXPLORE THE PITSTOPS ON A ROAD TRIP ALONG THE HIGHWAY TO HANA!
The Road to Hana zigzags through the lush landscape of Maui, along peaks, forests, bays, beaches, and falls.
There are a couple ways to experience this famous adventure, choosing between road tripping yourself with the guided Road to Hana CD and map or joining a bus tour with a designated guide and selected stops!
In our rented jeep, we stopped along the way at the different mile markers that intrigued us. Our stops included: the Twin Falls, Garden of Eden Arboretum, Waikamoi Ridge Trail, Upper Waikani Falls, Kahanu Garden, Koki Beach, Wailua Falls, wai’anapanapa State Park, ‘Ohe’o Gulch, and the backside of Haleakalā.
From the beautiful greenery and colourful plants that adorn the trails to the ever flowing waterfalls, the road to Hana is filled with miles of nearly untouched beauty. The ‘Ohe’ o Gulch, also referred to as the Seven Sacred Pools, was my favourite stop. The freshwater pools cascade down in a stream, flowing directly into the ocean. We took a refreshing dip in one of the pools before starting our journey back to our resort.
The Road to Hana is beautiful and if you choose to explore it be ready for a day filled with adventure. There will be an abundance of hiking, swimming, and hours of driving along the long winding roads that weave through the steep mountainous region. Drive slow, stop and smell the flowers, and take in every moment. Don’t forget to pack yourselves some snacks and lots of water, the trip is a long one!
WITNESS A BREATHTAKING SUNRISE
At 3:00 a.m. my dad and I drove out to Haleakalā to watch the sunrise over the volcano crater and national park.
As the sun rises, the brilliant rays illuminate the abyss, turning the darkness into light, and mark a new day. Haleakalā, which means house of the sun, is considered sacred to Native Hawaiians. If you look close enough you can spot cultural artifacts adorning the area. The Summit [the top of the crater] is nearly freezing especially right at dawn so bring warm clothing and blankets to truly enjoy the sunrise.
Watching as the sun paints its colourful brush over the fading night sky from the highest point in Maui was awe-inspiring and a highlight of my trip. Trust me… the early morning wakeup call is well worth it.
EXPERIENCE HAWAIIAN TRADITIONS
To cap off our time in Maui we attended a luau – a traditional Hawaiian celebration.
We feasted on a pig roast, enjoyed watching (and participating in) a traditional hula dance, and were mesmerized by the acrobatic fire dancers who set ablaze our night.
WHERE TO EAT!
Leilani’s On the Beach was by far my best meal in Hawaii. I ate here twice during the week because I needed a second filling of the amazing Hawaiian menu! I devoured the coconut shrimp and calamari strip appetizers, the amazingly marinated steak, and indulged in the classic Hula Pie.
Hula Grill served up the best atmosphere! You can choose between the Barefoot Bar or the Dining Room. Eat some of the most delicious seafood on the island while watching the setting sun.
If you’re looking for your next inspiring travel adventure, Hawaii is the way to go. It brings unforgettable experiences, as the island has so much to offer and explore.
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