My husband and I just returned from our first-ever Maui (or even Hawaii) vacation – hard to believe, huh?
A couple of disclaimers: Maui wasn’t high on my bucket list, and I’m not really a fun-in-the-sun kind of person. I wanted to go to the Mediterranean or anywhere in Europe. Ephesus and Rhodes. Even Mexico would have been great, although we hear that it’s not terribly safe anymore. But at the top of my list this year were Chile and Argentina. I keep hearing how fantastic they are, so different culturally, and I haven’t been to South America. I thought there was a reasonable chance that I could convince my husband, so I started doing research. It didn’t happen. He has really wanted to go to Hawaii for a while and promised me that next year, when he has sabbatical leave, we can go to South America. (Here’s hoping!)
Anyway, what did I know about Maui or the other islands? Hulas, luaus, loooong names with lots of vowels and m’s. Any archaeological sites? Any temples or ruins? I didn’t know or think so. But, okay, we made our reservations.
We arrived to find heavy winds, cloudy skies, high humidity, rough surf, and a lot of resorts and hotels. It just looked sort of….disappointing? This is what everyone raves about? This is where Californians seem to go a couple of times a year?
Another disclaimer: we have been to Aruba, the Bahamas, and other Caribbean Islands, so we know beautiful beaches. Puerto Vallarta has terrific beaches and restaurants and a very different culture. Greece, Spain, and Italy have, well, everything. Even Southern California has wonderful beaches. So, what’s the big deal about Maui? We still didn’t know.
On one of our typical vacations, we do some planning ahead and some planning when we get to our destination. We plan what we want to see and do each day. Sometimes, in a beach community, we will sunbathe in the morning, then do some excursion in the afternoon. I try to pack as much as I can into a vacation, to see everything I want to see - everything that is important to me, everything that brought me there in the first place.
I started to wonder how we were going to fill our days in Maui, especially in view of the less-than-ideal weather. We perused the guide books we had been given and googled everything. We came up with a few drives that sounded promising and a number of restaurants we hoped would be open during the holidays. We did find some rather interesting spots on our drives, and we saw some terrain that was very different from where we were staying. That was a good sign.
Some spots we passed were very lush, which is what I had expected to see in Maui. Some places had “roads” that were really just lava – interesting. I didn’t see any hula dancing or grass skirts, however. But that was okay.
After several days, the weather cleared up, and I was able to capture some images that looked more like a tropical locale than like cloudy, foggy San Francisco. We were able to sit outside and get some color. (I had been concerned that I might have to get a spray tan when I got back home!) We had great food, and towards the end of the trip, we hooked up with a man who works with my husband and is a frequent visitor to Maui. He has a large network of friends there, so we spent a couple of evenings with them, which was unexpected and lots of fun.
So, we are back now. What do I think of Maui now? Well, I went with virtually no expectations. I had no plans, so must-sees, no required events – unusual for my travels. But it was okay. It was restful in a way I wasn’t used to because I didn’t have to worry that if I spent too much time on the beach I might miss something I needed or wanted to do. There was just no plan. And my husband got to visit a place he has wanted to see for some time. So, Maui worked its magic, in a way. And I am not sorry we went! (Next year, on to Chile!)