Somehow, more than a year has gone by since my trip to Maui. The weather is getting cold here again in Boise and Beau and I are scheming up a tropical vacation for next year, so it seemed like the time to finally let this blog post free.
My mind is still absolutely blown when I think about how I ended up in Maui (on Maui?). My friend Julia and I were talking one day, and she told me her mom wanted to get family photos while they were on their trip. To be completely honest, I don’t remember this conversation, because when I offered up my services (apparently) I didn’t think anything would come of it.
A while later, Julia told me that her mom was actually considering bringing me to Maui. My jaw dropped, but I still didn’t believe it was going to happen.
Then, a couple weeks later, my plane tickets were booked and I was pinching myself to make sure it wasn’t a dream. I should mention that I hadn’t even met Julia’s mom, Patty, or her dad, Guy. We didn’t meet until I had landed on Maui and had a delicious lunch of fish tacos at the Paia Fish Market.
Flying into Maui is incredible. Seeing islands pop up after 5 hours of ocean stretching as far as you can see is just magic. (Warning – I’m going to be using the word ‘magic’ a lot.) Coming from a landlocked state, it’s a total reversal of what I am used to, what I find normal.
After the fish market, we made our way to the house. I remember watching the crazy Hawaii landscape. From lava rocks to lush green mountains to sugar cane fields, it changes every few minutes.
When we got to the house, Patty gave me a lei and Guy handed me a beer. I’d been up for almost 12 hours at this point, so I felt tired and kind of gross from the humidity, but I could already tell I was a person made for island life.
After some relaxing by the pool, we got dressed for the Old Lahaina Luau.
We were greeted with Mai Thais and more leis. I was quick to discover the never-ending bar.
The luau is made for tourists, with musicians and craftsman scattered all over the place. It was a fun way to start the trip. Hula dancers taught us the history of Hawaii while we ate and drank and tried to keep our eyes open into the night.
Aren’t these flowers beautiful? Here in Boise, the leaves are falling off the trees and blowing across the streets. Now, imagine those being flowers. That’s what Hawaii is like. Tons of perfectly beautiful and exotic flowers just fall off and roll across the streets. Magic, I tell you. Magic.
The next day, we ventured out to the Iao Needle. In the 1700s, there was a huge battle here. So huge, that bodies dammed the river and turned it red. Now, it’s just a pretty area and you should probably just try not to think about that. 🙂
Next stop, fresh Coconuts. So delicious and so fun. We drank it all up and then ate the coconut meat with hot sauce.
Back at the house, we ate fish tacos every single day. It was awesome.
That night, we tried to catch the sunset on the beach. We barely missed it, but still got beautiful views and some beach time.
We slept for a few hours and then woke up at 2am to drive to the base of Haleakala, the volcano on Maui. We drove up with the Maui Sunriders to watch sunrise from the top of the volcano. It was super cold and we waited for what seemed like a long time. Wind was whipping from every direction, and at a certain point we were all just ready for the damn sun to come up already so we could head back down the mountain.
But it didn’t disappoint. It was amazing to see the sun start to peek over the clouds and shoot through the rough, sharp peaks of the volcano.
Then, we rode our bikes down the volcano – probably my favorite part of the whole volcano experience. Riding through different landscapes and towns, seeing tropical flowers that don’t look real and peeking our heads into shops and grabbing breakfast at a fun little lodge… it was so fun. If you’re going back and forth on whether to do this, just do it. It’s worth it.
Then, the family photo session. Bill and Julia found this overgrown tropical spot a few days earlier, so we headed in to see it. We were immediately warned by some locals that were heading out that we should stay on the trails, because there were something like 127 unmarked graves in this area. Again, something you probably just shouldn’t think about. Just look how beautiful it is and think about that instead.
The last day, we spent hours snorkeling. It was probably my favorite thing ever. Tropical fish and sea turtles and coral just hanging out, living their lives, and I got to watch. I don’t have any photos of that, but Bill took a ton of video with a GoPro. Honestly, though, nothing could portray how magical it is other than being there and doing it. Snorkeling isn’t for everybody, but it’s definitely for me. I could have snorkeled all day.
Word to the wise – when putting on sunscreen to go snorkeling, think about the part of your body that will be seeing the sun the most. If you don’t, you will have a 5 hour plane ride of sitting on sunburnt legs…
I spent my last few hours in the pool at the house. We goofed off and enjoyed the sun and the beer and the Hawaii life.
Misty-eyed after spending so much time not sleeping on Maui, I said my goodbyes and headed back to the mainland, vowing to make it back to Maui as soon as possible.
I don’t know when I’ll be heading back. Beau and I were planning a Hawaii trip for next year, but now we found a new tropical spot we want to check out, so Maui is on hold, for now.
If I could offer any life advice from this trip, it’s to put yourself out there. Who knew that when I made a silly joke about having a family let me hang out with them on their trip to Hawaii, that they would actually bring me along? I’ll always be incredibly thankful for the trip and the experiences I had there. Thank you especially to Patty and Guy, and also to the rest of the family for letting me crash their trip.
P.S. To anyone out there reading this who is thinking about having a photographer follow them around on their next family vacation, um, I’m available. 🙂