**photography side note: i had a very difficult time deciding which camera/lenses to bring on this trip, but settled on my Rebel (18-55mm kit lens only) and my trusty Canon point-and-shoot. the below pics represent a combo of the two, and ironically, some of the better ones were taken by the point-and-shoot which i had on auto-mode most of the time. i attribute this to: most pics being taken in bright sunshine (hardly ideal conditions) combined with my choosing to enjoy the moments and get as many of them in as possible rather than spending enormous time or effort trying to come up with the 'perfect' shot. essentially, i decided to document our trip rather than photograph it.**
our place - i still can't believe the incredible location of the condo (the Mahana) we called home while on Maui; we were practically on top of the ocean! for the amazing deal we found, i thought it had to be too good to be true, but the vrbo.com pics didn't lie, and there were times we would've been content to stay in our condo and simply stare at and listen to the ocean... but there were too many adventures to be had! :)
the food - normally, i would take many more pics of the food, and while the food was incredible, i must have been waaaay too distracted by, well, the food, to take more pics! i had more mahi mahi in one week than ever before (primarily thanks to the Pa'ia Fish Market and Mama's Fish House) - grilled, fried, in tacos, you name it, i had it; so so so good!
also, the fresh fruit, especially the 'maui gold' brand pineapple (thanks, Lisa!), papaya, bananas - fruit never tasted that good before! and we couldn't get enough of the local banana bread...we tried three of the 'must-try' banana bread stands on the island, including 'Julia's,' rated as the best banana bread on the planet by the 'maui revealed' guide book, and we definitely agree!
of course, because in Hawaii, having kalua pork (traditional style like at the 'Old Lahaina Luau' we went to) and 'spam musubi' (thanks, Lyle!) were a must! it had been at least 20 years since the i last tried spam, but sitting atop white sticky rice, wrapped in seaweed and eaten while gazing at the ocean, it tasted better than i ever remember spam tasting! :)
highlights & adventures -
watching windsurfers at Ho'okipa Beach in Pa'ia (considered the best windsurfing spot in the world)
woman surfing/swimming with her 2 golden retrievers on Ka'anapali Beach
being invited to watch local high school milk carton boat races at Canoe Beach (thanks, Charlotte & Candis!)
driving around Maui in a convertible for the entire week was divine - we can't imagine ever exploring an island any other way!
Lahaina Town - definitely much better at night. the main attraction here was the enormous banyan tree (apparently imported from India in 1873 when it was 8 ft tall; it now stands 60 ft tall, has 12 major trunks and stretches over a 200-ft area; never seen anything like it!)
Nakalele Blowhole - the hike down to this hole in a lava shelf was definitely worth it!
Olivine Pools - quite a hike down over crazy lava rock, but swimming in these natural lava pools next to the ocean was one of the most peaceful and surreal experiences i've ever had...notice, Reid did NOT join me!
Driving the 'Road to Hana,' through a tropical rain forest, complete with 620 curves and 46 one-lane bridges...crazy, but we had to do it! we were fortunate enough to drive it on a day with no rain, but the bright sunshine (and our rush to see it all!)also made it difficult to get any decent, properly exposed pics. two of our fav stops were the black sand beach at Wai'anapanapa Park and Nahiku Road, which led us to the most breathtaking view of the Hana coast.
as if the road to hana wasn't enough of a driving challenge, we thought it would be an 'adventure' to drive around the 'rugged' north shore of west maui...in the opposite direction than what's advised, though we didn't know it at the time. it was easily the most terrifying 8 1/2 miles and 2 hours of my life, complete with a one-lane road, a 5-mile/hr speed limit, hardly any guard-rails, no shoulder and 1000 ft drops off sheer cliffs; NOTHING could have prepared us for this road! please excuse the poor-quality pics; at this point, raw survival was the only thing i cared about; proper exposure and clear photographs was much, much further down the priority ladder!
snorkeling!! - i experienced snorkeling for the first time on maui, and it was AMAZING! we took a Molokini snorkel tour and were fortunate enough to not only have great weather and visibility in the water, but the most fun captain and crew on our boat, the Four Winds II. we also observed dolphins, whales and huge sea turtles on the trip. (these pics were taken with an underwater point-and-shoot we rented on the boat.)
sea-kayaking - another first! thanks to lyle and joe for taking us out...it was definitely an adventure!
beach-bumming! - we didn't have time to explore even a fraction of the many incredible Maui beaches, but we thoroughly enjoyed the ones we made it to!