Maui is one place that my heart and soul wants to go back to ever since I have returned. It is truly a lush green paradise surrounded by the emerald blue Pacific Ocean from all sides. It took us almost more than 10 hours to get to Maui from Chicago but the travel was well worth it. Right when we were about to land on the island, I could see bright blue waves of the ocean crashing into green coastal areas which was the loveliest sight even before getting to the island. When our plane got bumpy towards the landing, everyone cheered out of excitement and that was the best feeling to experience in a turbulent flight.
We rented a car to explore the island which was the best decision as the island is bigger than we imagined. For the first two days we stayed in Kehie, a town in South Maui. Our resort was right next to the Kamaole beach park and the view of the ocean while driving towards the resort was unbeatable. As soon as we reached it was almost time for the sunset and we took advantage of the great location, walked to the beach to watch the beautiful sunset. As the sun started to set, locals and tourists gathered by the beach. I vividly remember taking my sandals off and dipping my feet into the waves. The water was warm and the air felt just right, in short we had begun our journey in the paradise.
Next morning, we woke up really early at 4 am since it was already 9 am in Chicago. The jet lag actually helped us enjoy the island beginning from sunrise all the way to sunset. We wanted to take it easy the first couple days so we just meandered around the neighborhood enjoying the sunrise and exploring the breakfast options. We then attended a detail one hour session with the concierge at our resort to learn more about the island. We mostly tried to relax, explore and enjoy rather than check things off the list because Maui has so much to offer that it is nearly impossible to see everything in a week.
Since we were staying in the southern part of the island, we drove to the Iao Valley State Park which was only a 30 minute drive from us. After relishing some delicious mouthwatering fresh fish tacos from the local food trucks by Big Beach, we started to drive towards the state park. As we got closer, the road turned into valley with dense rain-forest full of coconut, palm, banana and all kinds of tropical trees on both sides. We also stopped by on the way up to the Iao Valley for homemade banana bread and fresh coconut water. The sight of the stream flowing along the lush valleys was just lovely. We hiked both down and up to enjoy the best views of it. The Iao needle has a huge historical significance and is also known as the Hawaiian God of the Ocean.
Our concierge suggested us to park along Ullu beach in the south and walk around the coastal trail in the town called Wailea. Our drive to the beach was an absolute bliss. I just loved exploring the super easily accessible beachfront trail, which was right next to all the fancy resorts such as Four Seasons, Grand Wailea and Fairmont. The best part about the beaches in Maui is that none of them are owned by the resorts and they all have public access. We did sit down for a bit while soaking in the views and sipping our fresh orange pineapple juice at the Grand Wailea cafe.
With in no time it was time to check out and we headed towards the north west part of the island towards Kapalua to check in into The Ritz Carlton which was our abode for the next two nights. We drove along scenic winding road along the coast for about an hour to get there. The Kaanapali beach area was right next to it to so we stopped by real quick to check out the Whalers Village. The most mesmerizing part is the marine life that is thriving right next to the coast. I was amazed to see all kinds of colorful fishes at the Black Rock, Kaanapali beach. Snorkeling at Maui was highlight of my trip. While others enjoyed cliff jumping from the Black rock, I explored the marine life snorkeling all along the rocks to see the fishes and turtles. Another spot I loved for snorkeling was Kapalua bay where I spotted multiple green sea turtles swimming right next to me. The water was crystal clear and it is just incredible that the beaches are flourishing with such rich coral reefs and marine life. I did hurt my feet by stepping into the sharp coral rocks which can possibly cause serious injuries. The fire ceremony next to Sheraton hotel at the Kaanapali beach is an ancient Hawaiian sunset ritual. The Hawaiian music and storyteller accompanied with the torch bearer who lights the torches along his way making his climb to the Black Rock followed by his dive into the water is a memorable experience in Maui.
Another day full of adventure was our road trip to Hana. 42 miles, 620 curves and 59 bridges through lush green rain-forests leads to the town of Hana. This road trips is all about the rejoice along the journey and not the destination. It takes an entire day to explore this part of the island. The road cuts through tall bamboo forests, spectacular waterfalls, colorful foliage and abundant rain-forests. My favorite spot was the black sand beach at the Waianapanapa State Park. On our way back we stopped at the Hookipa beach in Paia where we spotted about twenty sea turtles that were just basking at the beach.
After a long day to Hana, we spent our next day exploring Kapalua coastal trail and just relaxed for the rest of the trip. We shopped at downtown Lahania for a bit to collect some souvenirs as our trip was coming to an end. We savored our lunch at the Burger Shack in Kapalua with lovely beach views. We also enjoyed star gazing at Kapalua where large bright stars twinkled all over the sky since there was no light pollution. I was exhausted and tanned by the end of the trip, but my heart wanted to keep exploring. I have never missed a place so much after my return. Have you ever felt of any destination this way? Please share, I would love to read.