Mar 27 2013

Resurfacing with the Aloha Spirit

Two weeks ago, I was packing for our eagerly anticipated trip to Maui, stashing extra sunscreen in suitcase pockets and making a quick dash to Powell's for reading material. We planned this trip to Hawaii rather suddenly this winter, seeking warmer temperatures, ocean breezes, and the hope that we'd return to Portland's extended Spring with a sense of renewal. After initial research on the various Hawaiian islands, we firmly settled on Maui, as it seemed to toe the line between the tropical and more remote Kauai, and busier and congested Oahu. We weren't seeking complete isolation, but also had no interested wasting time in Honolulu's traffic jams.

The second island in the Hawaiian chain, Maui is 48 miles long and 26 miles wide. These 728 square miles cover varying geographical terrain. The center of the island is dominated by the Haleakala Crater (10,000 feet at the summit), and the Haleakala slope, full of lush farmland. North Maui, where we stayed, is home to decidedly low-key residents and visitors, who live or visit for the food, views, and most importantly, the waves. Professionals and amateurs alike surf the spectacular waves all day. Our hotel's walkway led directly to a beautiful beach (the first picture above), where we enjoyed standing in water and watching some truly talented (or if not that talented, then brave!) surfers catch waves.

If you travel East from North Maui, you join up with the Road to Hana, a 68 mile road unlike any I've been on. The road is a series of switchbacks (300 turns in one direction) and one lane bridges, lined with pull-off points for hiking, waterfalls, banana bread, and tropical gardens. If you follow the road to its culmination, you reach the small island town of Hana. We chose to end at Waianapanapa State Park and spend time on its black sand beach.

When we drove to South Maui, I felt an immediate sense of familiarity – this was the Hawaii I'd grown familiar with from tv shows and movies. We drove along the main stretch, Wailea Alanui, passing perfect landscaping, resort after resort, and numerous golf courses, to reach our end destination: Makena National Park, home to the most beautiful beach I've ever seen.

I'll be sharing photographs from our trip to Maui over on my photography blog this week. I've organized the pictures under different sections: landscape and beaches; vegetation; Haleakala (deserving of its own post), and hiking and waterfalls. First up: Maui's beaches and stunning geography!