Friday, March 26, 2010

Maui Highlights


It has been a little over two weeks since my family and I returned from Maui, but the memories are still fresh in my mind and heart. I don't believe we have ever had a vacation that has been so magical. We had some extraordinary experiences during our week stay, so of course I want to share them with you, just in case you decide that Maui is your next vacation destination.




1. Whale-watching

The Humpback Whale migration season runs approximately December through March, with the channels right off Maui being their super-highway. There are a many companies offering a 2-3 hour cruise, guaranteeing the opportunity to see whales. Smaller boats may give a better bird's eye view (at a significantly higher price tag), but by law all boats, big and small, must stay within a minimum number of feet from the animals. For this reason, your best value is to choose a larger boat, which charge about $35pp, or slightly less expensive for early morning and mid-afternoon departures. There are ample choices all leaving from the Lahaina marina, and while reservations are recommended, there seemed to be plenty of seats available for walk-ups.


We saw no fewer than three or four dozen whales in a two hour period. Some launching themselves out of the water, some slapping their fins in some sort of mating ritual, some mothers with calves. The sight was breath-taking. For those of you that own cameras with a good zoom and high shutter speed, you are going to catch some great photos. I didn't even do half bad with my little Sony.





2. Zip-lining


We zip-lined a couple of years ago in Park City Utah, and loved the rush. We were intrigued with the idea of experiencing it in the mountains of Maui. There are a few companies that offer packages, all of them offering 6 to 8 zip-lines over a 3 hour period. Prepare for sticker-shock, however, at prices that start at $150pp and up. Reservations are a must, as tour groups are small (about 10 persons). There are height and weight requirements...kids must be at least 10 years old and 80 pounds, and you can't weigh more than 260. (By the way, they DO put you on a scale to prove it! Ack! Don't they know we've been on vacation?)

Our zip-line company, Skyline Eco-Adventures, involved a 30 to 40 minute van ride over rough terrain, then transferring to a "tank van" (van with tank treads) to get us up to higher elevations. If you are prone to motion-sickness, this jaunt could bother you. You are then suited up with harnesses and helmets, given some basic rules, then leave the rest of the work to your guides. The zip-lines started off small (about 400 feet long) and worked their way up to over a thousand feet long, all of them stretched over deep ravines. At these altitudes, it often rains, which means you may get wet and will be hiking from line to line in sticky, red clay. Dress accordingly! I fear some clothes have been ruined.

All of this may sound a bit dire, but I promise you, the sensation is worth the money and hardship. The views are incredible, and as you become braver and braver, are able to manipulate 360 degree turns that enable you to get some panoramic shots from your camera. (The picture to the left is my son taking off on one of the smaller zip lines.)


3. The Old Lahaina Luau

You can't come to Hawaii and not experience a Luau, right? You will find most resorts offer them, all at pretty stiff prices of $110pp and up. The word on the street, however, is that they can be pretty cheesy. We think perhaps we found the crown jewel of them all in the Old Lahaina Luau. Our AAA guide called it a gem, and we agree. The price tag is slightly less than the resorts at $92pp for adults and $62pp for kids.

You are welcomed with fresh leis and mai tais and shown to your reserved table that is situated around a stage. Your very dedicated server (ours was willing to do just about anything for us, as he was bucking for a good tip at the end of the night!) explains that the event has an open bar, and he will retrieve any possible concoction we could ever dream of (I told him he was going to lose money on us). There is Hawaiian music being played by a live band, and we are free to wander from station to station that allows hands-on opportunities to play Hawaiian instruments, learn how the women used to make clothing, and how the men make wood carvings. You can even have a family portrait taken in the sunset.

You are then drawn to a pit where a pig has been roasting in an underground oven for over 12 hours. I won't show you the picture of "Wilbur", but the sight could make a vegetarian out of some folks. I, however, enjoyed some savory roast pork later. Table by table, we are called to help ourselves to an extensive buffet featuring classic Hawaiian foods. My favorite was the pork and the Mahi Mahi. It is also worth noting that a gentleman at our table was a celiac (gluten allergy), and he was provided with a special plate of acceptable foods.

After sunset, the show begins. Through song and dance, we learn about the history of Hawaii. The performers are graceful and beautiful, and you leave with a deeper respect for the Hawaiian culture.

There is nothing cheap and tacky about this event. Our table mates commented that they had been to several other luaus, but this one was by far the nicest. This is one experience that is not to be missed! For more information on the Historic Lahaina Luau, see Uptake's website here.

4. Snorkeling

Like whale-watching, snorkeling tours are everywhere and can be quite expensive. We were about tapped out at this point, so when our dinner server gave us some snorkeling tips one evening, we took her advice. We avoided the rental huts on beach, and drove into Lahaina and rented some pretty decent snorkeling equipment for $7 a day. We drove to a public ocean park just north of where we were staying, and dove in. We were blown away. The coral reef there is vibrant and full of fish and sea turtles. The cove is somewhat protected, so the waves are gentle. And if you remain still, you can even hear the whales. Ironically, this was my husband's and daughter's favorite activity, and by far the cheapest!

5. Haleakala National Park

When you think of Hawaii, you think of volcanoes, and we all really thought we needed to see one, even if it was dormant. So we packed our bags and took off for this National Park. It was about a 2 hour drive from our hotel, and took us from sea level to 10,000 feet. Unfortunately, at this altitude, the weather is changeable...foggy one minute, raining the next minute, and sunny the minute after that. It is also insanely cold - in the 30's, so make sure you pack pants and jackets. We enjoyed looking over the rim of the crater, being above the clouds, and stalking cute wildlife.



































At the Maui airport, on our way home, we were already pulling up information on Hawaiian cruises. We were all sad to leave, and had a kind of glow on our faces for some time after we were back to the drudgery. We hope to return again someday. And to ensure this, prescribed by ancient Hawaiian lore, we all stopped at a high overlook on our way to the airport, and threw our leis into the ocean.

33 comments:

caite said...

sounds like you had a great time!
and I think a cruise would be the perfect way to see hawaii. someday...

JoAnn said...

What a trip!! Someday we'll get there...

Jackie (Farm Lane Books) said...

Looks beautiful! Sounds as though you had a wonderful holiday.

Susan said...

Oh, it sounds sooooo wonderful! I've never been to Hawaii, but now I'm dying to go...maybe when the hubs retires.

You did a great job on this post, Sandy!

bermudaonion said...

I'm so jealous of your trip!! I would do all of that except the zip-lining - I'm afraid of heights and the thought of that terrifies me! Vance went to Hawaii with the band after his senior year of high school. Friends of his (who weren't in the band) were in Hawaii for the summer staying with their Hawaiian grandparents. The highlight of his trip was the tour they gave him and eating dinner with them in their home.

rhapsodyinbooks said...

What wonderful pictures! The luau sounds like great fun, although I would not like seeing Wilbur very much! :--)

Julie P. said...

What an amazing vacation! I am so jealous yet so happy for you!

Melody said...

I enjoyed reading your post, Sandy! Glad you all had a wonderful time!

Ti said...

I've never been to Hawaii but you sure did it in style. Roast pork...yum.

ds said...

So glad you had such a wonderful time; thanks for sharing the experience! Hawaii is a beautiful, magical place...sigh...

Nymeth said...

Wonderful post, Sandy! Thank you for sharing your magical holiday with us. I'd so love to make it to Hawaii one day. I'm a big nature lover, and it sounds like there'd be SO much for me to enjoy. Your description of watching the whales alone was elating!

heidenkind said...

Zip-lining is something I would never even think about doing on a vacation, but it sounds cool. If ever I'm in Maui... ;)

Alyce said...

It sounds fabulous! My husband and I are thinking about going to Hawaii next year with his air miles, so I was taking notes from this post. :)

Darlene said...

Wow, what a wonderful time! I'm glad you all enjoyed yourself so much. Thanks for sharing Sandy!

Kathleen said...

Sounds like you had a wonderful time. Maui happens to be my favorite place on earth. I can't wait to go back in November. I missed the zip lining this last time but will give it a go in the fall! Thanks for sharing your lovely pictures and memories!

Jenners said...

I'm sold! I want to go! Great photos!!!

Nicole (Linus's Blanket) said...

You are quite the adventurer. I would have had to stay at the luai while you zip lined. Someone has to take one fort the team and dance and drink. :)

Great photos! Glad you had a good time and thanks for sharing!

Andreea said...

Wow, such great pictures and it sounds like you had a wonderful time there! I am glad:)

Beth F said...

I lived and worked near Honolulu for two summers. I haven't been back in ages -- your photos made me a bit homesick. What a fabulous trip.

Trisha said...

I am soooo jealous! Ziplining looks like so much fun. Next time you go, I want to go with!

Lenore said...

OMG! That looks like so much fun. And warm!!

Serena said...

Hawaii is one place I would love to visit. Your vacation sounds equally adventurous and relaxing. Love it.

Sheralyn said...

Maui is wonderful! The activities you mentioned are all on my list of favourite things to do in Maui!

And you made a great choice in going to the Old Lahaina Luau - it's commonly referred to as one of the best ones on the island!

Jen - Devourer of Books said...

Looks like you guys had a blast!

The Bumbles said...

I'm glad you took the snorkeling advice. We did the same thing when we were there - renting from a shop in town. We drove our rental off the beaten path (against the contract rules) and found a pretty little spot with crystal clear ocean.

We also visited Haleakala - from the crater in the cold to the sea via the Road to Hana - the Ntl. Park encompassing it all is huge.

I'm so glad you had a fun trip - there are so many ways to see Hawaii - you got them all covered - by boat, by swimming, by hiking/walking and by zip-lining!

Alice Teh said...

I read and re-read this post because I LOVE IT! I love the photos, I love the description you wrote for each one. I really like the sneakers one. I want to go zip line one day... And the waters... OMG... and the whale sighting! Sandy, I wish I'm in Maui NOW. And my camera will be coming with me, that's for sure.

Craftymoose Crafts said...

Wow! Wonderful photos! It looks like you had a wonderful time--and so brave on the zip lines!

Zibilee said...

By the looks of things, you had an amazing trip! I would love to visit Hawaii one day and get to see some of those amazing sights. I am glad that you had such wonderful experiences on your trip!

Anna said...

What a wonderful vacation! I'm definitely going to have to make it to Hawaii some day.

--Anna
Diary of an Eccentric

Stephanie said...

Lucky you! My sister lives on Oahu so my oldest daughter and I have been there three times. Hope to go back with my youngest one day soon, but this time we would like to go to Maui - I've never been)!!

Rob said...

My home is Kauai so if you're ever on island let's talk story (and books). Glad you enjoyed your Maui vacation. Aloha from Rob

Melissa said...

Great pics!! Makes me want to go back. :) We didn't get to go on a zipline tour, but I really wanted to. I'll have to have it on my list when we get back someday!

Melissa said...
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