Hawaii: Part 1 – Maui
It’s hard to put into words why I love Hawaii so much. Hawaii isn’t just another tropical paradise. It is an enchanting oasis where mountains meet ocean, a place in which nature makes you feel so incredibly small. You become one with the water, the land, and the people.The first chapter of our trip began in Maui where we stayed at the Marriott Maui Ocean Club. We checked into a beautiful one-bedroom villa with views overlooking the ocean. The villa had a full kitchen (perfect for stocking up on local favorites like a peanut butter coconut spread and macadamia nut chocolate), a private balcony and a washer and dryer, which came in handy after a few nature excursions! The resort itself has an open-air concept that allowed the fresh air and beauty of Maui to always surround us. The multiple pools were relaxing and grand, built through grottos and stone waterfalls just feet away from the beach. But what I really loved about this hotel was the location. We stayed in the heart of the action, surrounded by the most delicious restaurants, stunning beaches, and close to the many meeting locations for different activities we booked.After spending the first day settling into the hotel and enjoying the pools and beaches around the resort, we ventured off to the Road to Hāna, a famous coastal road surrounded by miles and miles of rainforest. It’s an adventurous drive, as there are many one-lane bridges and roads you have to carefully cross and sharp turns on the sides of steep mountains, but the journey is worth every second. Along the drive there are hidden beaches and waterfalls that are able to be hiked and what you see is nothing short of spectacular. We swam in one of the first waterfalls we found, a hidden gem that no one else was at. To swim in a natural pool surrounded by lush greenery and a running waterfall is one of most special experiences in my life.I always wanted to zip-line and where better to experience this than Hawaii? I booked an eight-line adventure tour above the coast of Ka’anapali where we soared high above untouched Hawaiian lands and the sky blue ocean. We hiked through the West Maui Mountains and even enjoyed fresh guava picked right from the trees along the journey. My favorite line in the course was number seven, Wahikuli– the trust zip. On this line we had to stand at the edge of the mountain backwards and when our guide yelled, “Go” we jumped off and flew back. It was terrifying and exhilarating all at the same time. This was the location (that legend has it) that the Pele – the volcano goddess - appeared on Maui for the very first time. To soar through the air in such a sacred place made the entire day that much more meaningful.I still am craving the food in Maui. Everything is so fresh and local – a true embodiment of what farm to table really means. The eggs are hatched from chickens on the island, the fruits are picked from the trees and farms surrounding the mountains and local flavors are embraced like coconut (used to make a delicious syrup for macadamia nut pancakes on the island)! Mama’s Fish House, a famous restaurant that has the most delicious seafood, and a little local sushi restaurant, Sansei, were two of my favorite spots to dine in Maui. Food is a critical part of any vacation and I feel confident in saying that it is hard to find a bad meal in Hawaii.Four days in Maui went by too quickly but when thinking back on our trip, staying at a resort like the Marriott Maui Ocean Club really made me feel like we had a home away from home. We immersed ourselves in the island with all of the local activities and excursions that took advantage of the enchanting landscapes of Maui by day, and were able to retreat back to a relaxing resort by night to share a drink while listening to the sounds of waves crashing on the shore. The magic of Maui will forever hold a place in my heart, and I look forward to adding to the memories in future years.Aloha nui loa. (Much love).