Monday, May 31, 2010

Maui, Hawaii

How did we end up in Hawaii? Well, my Mom had a milestone birthday the end of January. My Dad decided months ago that he was going to surprise her with a trip. Not only was he going to surprise her with a trip someplace awesome, but he also was going to surprise her by having her daughters and their husbands show up to celebrate the milestone birthday as well. So Briana and I began helping my Dad plan a secret Hawaii trip months before the big day! We decided to visit Hawaii (Maui in particular) because none of us had ever been to Hawaii and we all see vacations as a chance for adventure and something new. We researched hotels, car rentals, flights, and activities. It was so difficult to keep the secret from my Mom, but so much fun at the same time! Our family trip was only going to be about four days, but Robb and I decided that since we were there already and we had the vacation time, we would add a few extra days for just us after the extended family left. Finally all the reservations were made. Mom still didn’t have a clue. Her actual birthday was a week before we left for vacation. My Dad decided that it would be best to tell her on her birthday that he was taking her to Maui. But he didn’t tell her that Bri and I would be there as well. So that gave her a week to be excited and a week where Briana and I had to feign surprise and interest!

On the day of the big reveal Robb and I got to Maui first. We gathered our luggage and went to pick up our rental van. By the time we had our van ready, everyone else had landed. Briana was sneaking around the airport so she wouldn’t run into Mom and Dad. I called Bri and we managed to meet up; we kept low and spotted Mom and Dad in a corner waiting for their luggage. We ran up to Mom screaming Happy Birthday and the surprise was revealed. I wish we had one of our husbands taking pictures; it was so much fun! We managed to fit all six of us in the mini-van, along with all of our luggage (it was a little tight) and headed to the resort.

One of the many reasons we decided on Maui for our Hawaii vacation was that it was the best island and the perfect season for humpback whale watching. As we drove along the coastline towards our hotel the first whales were spotted. There was not a single day of our trip that we did not see the majestic creatures. We arrived at the Hyatt and were overwhelmed at the beauty. My Dad graciously paid for all expenses for the trip and Robb and I got to experience a luxury that we’ve never been able to see before and probably won’t see again for a long time. The hotel was amazing – open air lobby, a variety of birds on display, the biggest pool I’ve ever seen, and rooms with views of the ocean and countryside. We had breakfast every morning in an open-air room, overlooking a waterfall.

The next morning we had signed up for a sunrise whale watching tour. We all woke up entirely too early and headed to the docks in Lahaina. We got on a boat before the sun was up and headed out with our eyes looking out for whales. As the sun came up over the island we saw a ton of whale activity; they were slapping their fins on the water, breaching the water and babies were sticking close to their mama’s. It was really quite spectacular, and a great start for the morning.
The next day we were scheduled for a kayaking/snorkeling trip. The six of us were the only ones in the group besides the tour guide, which made it a really fun special trip. It seems that our family is pretty good at the kayaking thing so we were able to move quite fast, which is pretty important when you’re chasing whales. Yup, we spent most of our time looking for whales and trying to get closer to them. We learned a trick that involved putting our paddle in the water and holding the other end next to our ear; that helps you hear the whale songs. We saw whales swim under our kayaks and come up for air only 100 feet away. We were so sometimes so close that we could hear the whale songs ABOVE the water, without needing our paddles to hear their song. After whale-chasing, we spent an hour swimming and snorkeling off of our kayaks. Everyone agrees that it was one of the coolest days of our lives.
Our big failure during our Maui trip was the Haleakala Crater. We drove upcountry to view the remains of an ancient volcano, but as we made our way up the mountain, we got more and more worried. Fog completely surrounded us. We’re told that the Crater is spectacular and out of this world, looking like a Martian landscape. But all we could see was fog. Another cool little trip was to the Nakalele Blowhole. Driving to this natural blowhole was really spectacular. We drove along cliffs with gorgeous beach views. We were able to spot a surfing competition. And the blowhole itself was really neat – waves crash along a rock formation causing water to shoot up in a stunning display of power. We had some alone couple time too. Robb and I spent some of our time snorkeling and also visiting a whaling museum.
After a few days it was time for us to drop the rest of the family off at the airport and switch rental cars. Robb and I headed to a bed and breakfast for the next couple of nights. We spent one day checking out the Iao Needle and moving from beach to beach. I read about so many great beaches that I wanted to see several of them. So we spent an hour or two at one beach before moving on to the next one. We had hoped to get some good snorkeling in, but the waves were pretty intense and our snorkeling wasn’t as great as we had hoped. But you really can’t complain about sitting on the beach all afternoon and enjoying relaxing with your husband.

The next day we woke up early and decided to drive the Road to Hana. A lot of people drive as fast as they can to Hana (a pretty boring little town) and then head home. But, as we saw it, the whole point of driving to Hana is the drive itself and the sights you see along the way. The road is scary - over 600 curves and 52 one-lane bridges. The driver (which was me) is constantly tense and must be exceedingly careful to not kill anyone. And you’ve got to be careful of those local construction trucks that barrel around corners and across bridges without a second glance. The Road to Hana is less than 60 miles, but with all the curves and stops it took us all day to get there and back (we left at 8:00 in the morning and didn’t get back to civilization until about 7:30 that evening). We stopped at amazing little towns and saw beautiful waterfalls. We managed to swim in the cold, cold water of little waterfalls and saw a rare black sand beach. While we were really excited about seeing the Seven Sacred Pools at the end of our journey, we were disappointed to find that a drought had caused them to dry up and limit our swimming. But we did see Charles Lindberg’s grave and saw amazing scenery throughout the day.

The Road to Hana and whale watching was by far our favorite adventures. Robb and I feel so blessed (which is pretty incredible since we’re not religious) that I have such fantastic parents that were able to provide us the opportunity for a once-in-a-lifetime vacation. We had such a good time as a family and then such a special time as a couple. This trip is something we will never forget (and all these months later we still talk about how cool it is that we were chasing whales.)

1 comment:

RM said...

Damn, that was a good time...