Girl Getaway to Maui
I'm one lucky girl to have a friend who moved to Maui and invited me to come visit her. Tatianna and I met a few years ago during a Girls Getaway to Montana. At the time, she lived in Phoenix. We stayed in touch over the years, and when she moved to Maui she called me to say, "you have to come visit and we have to write the Girls Getaway Guide to Maui."
As soon as I could, I said "Aloha" to her in person at the Kahului Airport. We traveled 45 minutes from the airport to her town of Lahaina, which is a quaint little town on Maui's leeward coast that is full of sites, shops, restaurants and art galleries (where she works).
We woke up the first morning ready for our day of hiking with Wade Holmes of No Ka Oi Adventures. Wade specializes in private tours of Maui's most beautiful places, some well known and others hidden treasures. We were very impressed with Wade's vast knowledge of the biodiversity and history here and how the two are very intertwined. As Tatianna said, "Wade is a walking encyclopedia." He truly made our hikes that much more interesting and entertaining. First, we hiked Iao Valley State Park, which features the Iao Needle and beautiful natural landscapes and waterfalls. After this hike, we traveled to Wade's secret spot (reserved only for his favorite clients). After hiking down the mountain and down the roots of an enormous Banyan Tree, we arrived at the perfect picnic spot nestled perfectly next to a beautiful waterfall. Wade really knows how treat his guests as he came fully prepared with guava juice and Cacao Goji Maca Nut Balls from Living Foods Maui. This was perfect!
That evening, Tatianna and I were excited to experience the Old Lahaina Luau, which is considered by everyone to be the best luau on the island. We were greeted by Kawika who was our host for the evening. As we entered, we received our lei and quickly picked up a few Mai Tais to start the evening. Kawika gave us the grand tour prior to the general public arriving. Along the waterfront were authentic Hawaiian artisans featuring everything from basket weaving to wood carving to lei making. We even got our very own hula lesson (video), and an overview of the Imu Pit where they cook the pig for the evening's feast. I was somewhat confused as Kawika showed us a bunch of dirt and said that's where the pig is. After my short blond moment, I quickly realized that the pig was buried under the dirt and was cooking, a 12-hour process.
After the pig was unearthed, dinner was served. We feasted on traditional luau fare, such as Poi, Pulehu Steak and Ahi Poke. I especially loved the Chicken Long Rice, which looked like clear gummy noodles. It was delicious! After dinner, the show began with a tribute to the compelling tradition of the pahu (drum) with the Ote'a, the famous and festive drum dance of Tahiti. Afterwards, the ancient hula and modern hula were featured and each one told a story, as all hulas do. It is a beautiful display of Hawaii's most popular performing arts with lovely movements, colorful costumes and an authentic feel of the island's history. Mahalo to Kawika and the fantastic staff at Old Lahaina Luau..this was one terrific evening!
The next morning was an early one as we met Tara Angioletti, owner of Girls Gone Surfing, at 7AM. Within just a few minutes of meeting her, you realize this tiny, energetic woman will have you in the water and standing on a board before you realize what happened. And that's exactly what she did. We had a brief overview on land, then it was time to paddle out and catch some waves. Either Tara is a great teacher or I am a fairly quick learner (probably the former), but I was able to stand up on my second try. Once I was up, I was hooked and didn't want to come in. Tara was a sport and stayed in the water with me for almost three hours. Tatianna wore herself out catching her own waves and called it a day. After exiting the water, I am not sure if I should be proud or disappointed of the cuts and scrapes all over my feet. After all, a true athlete must have proof of their hard work, right?
After breakfast and some time at Slaughterhouse Beach, we met up with Tara for some cliff diving (or at least jumping). The worst part about the jumping was climbing the rocks barefoot after we tore up our feet earlier that morning surfing. Once we jumped, we were hooked. Thanks Tara for two awesome experiences in one day!
And just when we thought we had done it all, Tara offered to host us on an authentic Hawaiian Canoe Excursion the next morning. We woke up early again, but ready to row with Maui Paddle Sports. We met Tara, as well as our guides Jamie and Vie, on the beach and launched our Hawaiian canoe into the ocean. We rowed to the Turtle Cleaning Station where Jamie and Vie explained how the turtles come to this area to be cleaned by the fish. And there were turtles all around our canoe and the guides knew each and every one of the, including gender and age. It was very cool! We rowed what seemed like another 10 miles (not really, but my arms and shoulders were already sore from paddling the day before), but we were completely entranced by Jamie's cultural and historical information he shared with us about Hawaii. It really is a fascinating world here, and I love that they manage to maintain their heritage, beliefs and love of the land and sea.
That afternoon, we met up with Tara to say goodbye and spend my last Maui evening aboard the Trilogy for a Sunset Sail. Many thanks to the Captain, Caleb and Jordan for a beautiful afternoon at sea with great PuPu's, cocktails and entertainment (Jordan sings and plays the ukulele). This was the perfect way to end the trip....with old and new friends on The Valley Isle.
As they say in Hawaii, "O ke aloha ke kuleana o kahi malihini," which means "love is the host in strange lands." I certainly felt the love during my stay in Maui, and I cannot wait to return. Mahalo!