I guess I should start off with a preface about the meaning of this trip to me. In high school, my nose was stuck in the worlds built by YA authors like Sarah Dessen and Taherah Mafi. Romance is often referred to as the emotion and happenings around love and lust but it’s also the excitement around the uncertainty, mystery and intrigue about life itself. I guess you can say that I was in love with romance. I was so infatuated with the lives laid out between the pages and so dearly wished to have the same feelings about my own life. I always dreamed of being stolen away for a summer along the East Coast or to be bunkered down in an underground laboratory harnessing my superpowers to save all of humanity. But the sensible side of me brought me back to planet earth, where unfortunately, stories like that were few and far between.
Then, things started happening. There wasn’t a sudden moment of change but instead, it was gradual, a slow work in progress, unconscious enough that when I finally had time to breathe and reflect – I was exactly where I had always dreamed of being. I met people that wanted to travel and talk about their emotions as much as I wanted to. I met people where I could comfortably sit in silence with. I met people where I would still feel understood and heard even when I’m in sweats and incoherent. I might not be saving the world yet, but I finally felt connected to my own world as much as I did to the worlds in the novels I read.
Initially, it was going to be a trip to Big Bear, CA. A cabin with a fireplace, Settlers of Catan, and some snow gear would have made the trip unforgettable. Yet, the idea of inviting 11 people and accepting the liability that comes with “a cabin in Big Bear” was not very lucrative. The plans turned a full 180 degrees when one of my friends mentioned that her parents had a condo in Kihei, Maui, a mere 200 feet from the beach and one mile from acai bowls, fish tacos and phenomenal Thai food. That’s when the hard work started. We had to figure out how many people we wanted to squeeze into a condo with one bedroom, one bathroom, one kitchen and one sofabed. We had to figure out when to book the trip to get the best price. We had to figure out how to get around, where to go, what to pack – the list was endless! But lucky for me and my best friend – the excitement of a trip to Maui over Spring Break made every single moment of stress worth it.
12:30 – Arrive in Maui
1:30 – Lunch at Tiffany’s Bar and Grill
3:00 – Costco Run
6:00 – Thai Food for Dinner
9:00 – Prep lunch in cooler
10:30 – Keawakapu Beach
7:00 – Gannon’s Restaurant Happy Hour
9:00 – Spam Masubi Run
10:00 – Waihee Ridge Trail
1:30 – Like Poke
3:00 – Costco Run
6:00 – Grocery Run
8:00 – Dinner at Home
7:00 – Snorkeling at Ulua
12:00 – Hawaiian Moons
12:30 – Big/Makena Beach
4:00 – Wow Wow Lemonade for Acai Bowls
8:00 – Dinner at Home
11:00 – Twin Falls
3:00 – Milagros Happy Hour
4:00 – Paia Exploring
9:00 – Three’s Bar and Grill Happy Hour
8:00 – Leave for Hana
9:30 – 4 Falls of Na’ili’ili
2:30 – Sandwiches from ABC Store
9:30 – Paia Fish Market
Worthy Mention: 4 Falls of Na’ili’ili
When you think of Hawaii, you usually think of the beach, but the hikes are so worth the work. It’s so tempting to run to the beach immediately when you wake up but it’s the perfect weather and unhurried spirit of Hawaii that makes a morning hike worthwhile! Out of the three hikes we went on, my favorite would have to be Na’ili’ili, a beautiful hike with waterfall after waterfall. The hike is located within 15 miles of the beginning of the Road to Hana, so for those that do not want to commit to driving the full length of Hana, this hike is perfect for you!
Quiet with 30 feet tall bamboo trees hugging you to the earth, the trail is surreal. The only sound was the squishing of my shoes against the mud and my water bottle sloshing in my backpack. It’s nice to just walk at my own pace and lose myself to my thoughts because even though I was less than a mile from one of the most popular scenic roads in Hawaii, I felt like I was transported into another world. The first waterfall was about 20 feet. We lazed around on the giant boulders surrounding the water and felt the tiny droplets hit our skin as we added another layer of sun protection. At first, we thought it was a dead-end because there was no obvious path. Then we realized that a nearly vertical, muddy wall with nothing but a soaked and frayed rope and two foot grips was the way to the second waterfall. It took a full 15 minutes to convince me to climb that wall. It was incredibly frightening to place my entire weight on such a debilitated looking rope but everyone that came down that way said it was worth it and boy oh boy – it absolutely was. After some maneuvering and reluctant courage, I finally got back to the path.
The second waterfall was where we spent most of our time – swimming, talking, cliff-jumping, just typical “hooligans playing at a waterfall” things. The water was refreshingly cool, albeit algae-filled, but worth all the times my heart stopped because I touched the slimy substance. The adrenaline of climbing the wall must have clouded my judgement because before you know it, I found myself swimming through the algae and climbing onto the rocks underneath the waterfall. It was in this moment that I felt like my story started. I waited and waited for the moment that my everyday wouldn’t be just another page in the novel of my life but it would become a story in itself. Standing and looking out across the pool of water that I would have never a swam through and then turning around and seeing the people that, six months ago, I would have never imagined spending my spring break with was that moment where I finally realized that every single day for the past few months has been a story that I cannot imagine living without telling. It didn’t hurt that I was sun-kissed bronze, filled with quality poke and swimming in a waterfall in Hawaii either.
Note to Self (and Others)
Over the course of the week or so that I was in Maui, I came to the conclusion that two things had to be addressed before you decide to go on any trip with anyone:
1. What are the expectations for the trip? ie. Are we doing adrenaline-junkie things? Is the trip for checking off bucket list items or relaxing? How are we going to spend our days?
2. What is the budget for the trip? ie. Are we eating out every night? Local food? Fancy food? Are we going to snorkel? Go on boat rides? Rent a car?
Before my trip to Maui, I didn’t think to sit everyone down to talk about the expectations or the budget. After starting the spreadsheet and reminding everyone to add and make changes to it, I thought that would be enough planning necessary for the trip. This was however, under the assumption that everyone wanted to maximize their trip to Hawaii the same way as I did. I always say – I work to travel. I go to school to travel. I don’t go out and spend money on frivolous $5 coffee to travel. I save all the money that I can when I’m at home so that I do not have to worry about anything other than narrowing down the list of things I want to do when I’m on vacation. However, once we got there, the lack of structure with no cohesive answer to these two questions caused some friction between my group of five friends.
The point of the trip is to make memories together and to have as much fun as possible. Even as straight forward as that sounds, fun is incredibly objective. People are raised in different environments and have spent their vacations different ways so it’s hard to find a medium between five people without sitting down and having a discussion about it prior to the trip. Spring Break in Maui was amazing and I don’t regret going but I can’t help but think that it would have been less taxing if we had all laid out the groundwork prior to arriving at the condo.
Favorite Pictures/Places with a Brief Aside
After a long first day, we were determined to head to the beach first thing the next day. We made sandwiches, grabbed some Guava Hawaiian Sun juice, packed everything into a cooler and headed out. Keawakapu was the first beach that we went to and it was my favorite beach of all. The pictures do not do it justice. The thing that I loved most about being at the beaches in Hawaii was how warm the water was. Instead of icy cold, 15 feet waves like in Huntington Beach, there was instead a warm, steady current that greeted me. I had that sigh of relief that one has when finally reach the light at the end of the tunnel. This was it. This was all that I was working for. And I could not feel more complete.
On the way back from a walk, Becs and I suddenly heard the boys calling our name. In awe, my eyes landed on a sea turtle, swimming leisurely through the water, without a care in the world. It was so much bigger than I thought it would be and it was absolutely beautiful. We made sure not to disturb it but we couldn’t help but try to swim closer to see the ridges on its shell and the texture of its paws and feet. I don’t think any moment is going to match my surprise and wonder at how blessed I am to be able to see something so simple yet so extraordinary.
Waihee Ridge Trail
The trail was a bit of a workout, which is just how I like it. I think it’s such a good way to get the blood flowing but to also really get back in tune with your mind and the world around you. This picture sums up the hike perfectly. The view was absolutely breathtaking. We saw the true vastness of the ocean, the tiny buildings along the coast and the lush greenery around us and it was the sheer size and magnitude of the earth that really made this hike amazing. You feel so aware of every sense and smell when you’re that high up above the ground with nothing but your thoughts to keep your company.
Sunset Pictures near 5 Palms Restaurants
This little spot is down the shore from Keawakapu. I feel like I say this a lot, but it was absolutely breathtaking. The pictures speak for itself. There is nothing like watching a sunset at a beach. There is simply no comparison for it.
Attack of the Roach
After a long day out, I was ready to be in my pajamas, watch some Queer Eye and consume my body’s weight in cheap white wine. I had just finished showering. The most vulnerable time for this to have happened if you ask me. My guard was completely down. My makeup was completely off, my glasses were on and my feet were bare. I open the door and my heart drops to the deepest depths of hell. A spider like creature, about the length of a thumb but twice the width, scurries into the closet right outside the door of the bathroom. I scream. My four friends on the couch look over in panic.
“That’s the biggest freaking bug I’ve ever seen. Oh my goodness what the heck is it?!” I’m freaking out and I cannot escape the bathroom. I feel trapped. I cannot breathe. My soul has basically escaped my body and I’ve died and gone to heaven already.
The boys think it’s a small bug. They think I’m freaking out over something minor. They believe that with my track record of dramatic outbursts, that this would be another one of them. No sir. Not today. See the video below for evidence.
Reflecting on the trip months later, it was so worth it. It doesn’t matter that I have to work 25 hours a week on top of a full class load. It doesn’t matter that I can usually only eat two meals a day. It doesn’t matter that I have to hesitate before I spend money on a $5 cup of coffee. It is so worth it to be able to laugh until my belly aches, eat until my heart is full and scroll through so many pictures that I’m sick of it. Thanks for the memories, Kihei. I can’t wait to make more!
Until next time,