Recap – Maui and Lanai

Hawaii is a big place. William and I went on a 2 week trip covering 4 islands. Therefore, I decided to break this trip into two recap posts – covering 2 islands each instead of one giant Hawaii post.

My sister (once again) had requested a Hawaii post for her friend who is planning a trip there. I hope this helps, and please feel free to comment or contact me with any questions!

William and I flew in July 1st, 2014. We arrived in Maui in Kahului on the east side of the island. I have our basic schedule below to see how much time we delegated for each island.

July 1st – arrived in Kahului, Maui

July 2nd – transferred to west side of island in Lahaina, Maui

July 3rd – Maui

July 4th – Maui

July 5th – Maui

July 6th – Transferred to Lanai

July 7th – Lanai

July 8th – transferred back to Maui to Kahului for flight to Molokai

As you can see, I gave Maui a lot more time. It is a much bigger, more populated island with a lot more to see and do. In fact, I did not care for Lanai that much in general and would recommend skipping it unless you REALLY want to get away from it all.

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Maui

Kanaha Beach Park – Ka’a Point, Kitebeach – Free

  • We had flown all the way from Dallas to Kahului and had a bit of free time left in the evening, so I was just dying to see a beach. This was closest. We didn’t actually relax or swim there, but just walked around, felt the sand, and people watched a bit. The beach was quiet and it is apparently is a place where people like to fly kites and kiteboard. They were everywhere, and I can confirm it was very windy. I imagine based on the nickname and the location of the Kiteboarding school that this area is very windy a lot. I probably would not come here unless I had the intent to participate in an activity involving that much wind. Other beaches are more relaxed and just as beautiful.
  • Time we spent – 30 minuteshawaii

Queen Ka’ahumanu Center – Free

  • This is just a fun little shopping mall. It’s nothing special. We still had a bit more time in the evening, but didn’t want to go outside of Kahului for the night PLUS we were hungry so that’s how we stumbled in here. It did have a Starbucks.
  • Time we spent – 1 hour

Hana Highway – Free

  • I highly recommend making sure you have a rental car just so you can make this drive (plus public transportation in Maui is not great). It is a beautiful stretch of road, mostly along the coast and through greenery galore. It does change elevation a lot, is usually one lane, and has a lot of twists and turns. Even with my motion sickness medicine, we had to stop a few times because I couldn’t take it (and sometimes just to take photos). BUT IT WAS STILL WORTH IT. There are also really cute, remote little shops and restaurants along the way you can stop at. At this point, our plan was just to try and drive around Maui in a clockwise direction until it got late. We drove the entirety of the Hana Highway starting in Kahului, and ending in Haleakala National Park. It took about 3 hours of driving, not including any of our stops.
  • Time we spent – 4 hours

Waianapanapa State Park – Free

  • I mainly was interested in visiting the beaches here because I read they had black sand! I thought it was really cool to see. The beach was small. There were really cool rock formations right along the water that the waves would splash against. They were fun to climb and explore around. There were also underwater caves here. We weren’t planning on swimming so just saw the entrance to a cave with a group getting ready to swim in it. If you have time, I think it’d be worth your time. I know most people stay on the northwest side of the island though, so it is a bit far from there.
  • Time we spent – 1 hourhawaii3

Haleakala National Park – $25

  • Haleakala has two different sections to the park: the coastal area and the summit area. On this particular day with the Hana Highway, we did the coastal part. We first viewed the Seven Sacred Pools at Ohe’o which is a really short, easy walk for a beautiful view. It’s all of this water flowing into the ocean, except it certain areas it kind of pools up (hence the name). Then we decided to do a 4 mile round trip hike to see the Waimoku Falls. It was a scenic, easy, flat walk. It is well worth it to see the waterfall, and it is one of the biggest waterfalls I have ever seen up close. There was a sign telling us we couldn’t go past that point, but everybody else was straight up under the falls and swimming around so we walked over too. I have mixed feelings about this decision: it was so beautiful and amazing to actually stand under it, but I also now realize the negative impact tourists have on nature. So, if you go, at least consider the consequences of crossing the sign unlike I did. I’d also like to add that even though driving here on the west side of the island is not part of the park, it was very interesting terrain and I’d recommend coming to the park on the Hana Highway and leaving in the opposite direction, or vice versa, like we did.
  • We came back a couple of days later to do the summit side (included in the 7 day pass admission, which is only per car by the way), which is also definitely worth your time. The drive up has a lot of switchbacks and can be a bit nauseating if you have motion sickness like me. It is also really, really, really high up. Above the clouds. So keep in mind the elevation change, as well as how hot and close to the sun you are. I got one of the worst sunburns EVER here. I also got proposed to on a hiking trail near the top! Where we stopped our car to start a hike, the hiking trail was pretty long so we only went about 30 minutes in, which was enough to see into the crater. We also drove to the visitor center at the very top for the ultimate high views directly inside. The colors are stunning, the terrain is fascinating and it’s crazy to me how much the summit area drastically changes from the coastal area in the same park.
  • Time we spent – 3 hours (coastal), 3 hours (summit)

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    Makena State Park – Free

  • I had read that this was a highly rated beach which is the sole reason we chose it for our “typical, lay on a beach in Hawaii” experience. If you know me though, I run 100 miles per hour and have a hard time relaxing. So we weren’t here all day, but I did read a bit, lay down, walk along the coast, and get in the water. It was a very beautiful beach, and a lot less touristy than all of the beaches in the north on the resort strip. Makena was not very crowded at all and pretty quiet.
  • Time we spent – 2 hourshawaii6

The Shops at Wailea – Free

  • This was a nice, outdoor shopping center not too far away from the Makena Beach. It is nothing special or out of the ordinary, although I would like to point out that this is where we discovered Ali’I Nui and signed up for a snorkel tour. I’d probably skip this unless you love shopping everywhere.
  • Time we spent – 30 minutes

Whaler’s Village – Free

  • Once again, lots of outdoor shopping! This area is larger though and surrounded by giant resorts right next to the beach. The whole area in and around Whaler’s Village is worth strolling through. If you stay at any of the main resorts in Kaanapali, you will already be in this area. I can definitely see how some tourists just come to a Hawaiian resort and spend the entire time there. There are plenty of restaurants, variety, and so much beach!
  • Time we spent – 2 hourshawaii7

4th of July Celebration in Lahaina – Free

  • This just a typical celebration in downtown Lahaina, which is a very cute part of the town. There are lots of restaurants, lots of people everywhere, and performers. We spent an hour just walking around and exploring, listened to an Elvis impersonator and then found a good viewing spot for fireworks over the ocean while watching the sunset since Lahaina is on the west side of the island. It was one of the most magnificent sunsets ever, the fireworks were great, and it was quite a way to celebrate our proposal. I recommend at least showing up in time for the sunset and fireworks.
  • Time we spent – 2 hours

Ali’I Nui catamaran snorkel tour to Molokini and Turtle Town – $189

  • This was quite a splurge for us. Since I didn’t have time to really plan this trip the way I usually do, we just signed up in a shopping center for this tour about 2 days out. I bet you could get better deals in advance, as well as compare companies. You could also get a tour that offers less to the customers but gets you to the same places. This was a baller, nice ship complete with all the drinks and food we could want. It also included transportation to Maalaea by bus to the boat. We also did the deluxe, longer sail since we wanted to do both locations. I had never snorkeled before, so I don’t have a lot to compare it to. The first stop, Molokini, was a beautiful area and there were lots of colorful schools of fish in it. I didn’t see anything scary, and the water was very clear. At our 2nd stop, Turtle Town, we did in fact see and swim right next to sea turtles. Also lots of fish here. I’m glad we did both stops, but if you are on a budget, I’d recommend choosing the Turtle Town area. But maybe that’s just because I love turtles.
  • Time we spent – 8 hours including all driving and transferring

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    Molokini

Maui Ocean Center – $29.95

  • We actually did this after our time in Lanai. We took a ferry to Lanai from Maui and actually just parked our rental car for free in Lahaina (it was cheaper and more convenient). So when we were ready for our 3rd island, Molokai, the best option was to come back to Maui and fly over. So we had one more day and night here. We stopped here at the Maui Ocean Center just because it was on our drive back to Kahului, where we were staying next to the airport again. It was a nice aquarium, and we enjoyed our time there. I don’t think it’s one of the biggest must-see’s in Hawaii though.
  • Time we spent – 2 hourshawaii19

Lanai

Hulopoe Beach – Free

  • This is the only big beach in Lanai, and even then, there was hardly anyone on it. The Four Seasons resort is right next to it. If you stay on this island (at least when we went), your only lodging choices were $500 a night at the Four Seasons, or staying inland at the Hotel Lanai for much less. Guess which we picked? Even though we weren’t a Four Seasons resort guest, we were able to park in the parking lot and walk right through the hotel onto the beach with no problems. We came pretty late and watched the sunset there. Definitely a nice resort and beach if you are rich and literally want to get away from it all. Otherwise, it’s not special enough to make the whole ferry or flight over for.
  • Time we spent – 1 ½ hourshawaii18

Lanai City Center – Free

  • This is almost the entirety of Lanai City, and it’s basically just a square of shops, restaurants, etc. situated around a little park. Nothing special, but if you are in Lanai anyway, it is good to walk around, see what you can get in the town, and maybe find some food to eat. It has a very local feel.
  • Time we spent – 30 minutes

Shipwreck Beach – Free

  • This is pretty remote, and you can only get here if you have a rental with 4 wheel drive. Paved roads disappear and it gets bumpy and tight. I actually expected there to be something resembling a beach, but really it was just a drive to see an abandoned ship out on the water. You can’t even get that close to it. I wouldn’t bother.
  • Time we spent – 1 hour (including drive)hawaii16

Garden of the Gods – Free

  • This area is just a bunch of rocks. I was pretty disappointed. They are very red rocks, and it definitely does not seem like something you would ever see in Hawaii. However, just go to the Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs and you’ll be a lot happier. Also, driving the vehicle on the roads in this area worried me.
  • Time we spent – 1 hour (including drive)hawaii17

As you can tell, I was not that impressed with Lanai. Due to its remoteness too, everything is SO expensive! The food is expensive. Rental cars are expensive, and the gas for them is insane. I wasn’t impressed with Lanai City, so really I didn’t care about anything on the island. If I ever came back, all I would do is:

  • Stay at the Four Seasons Resort for a very short period of time using points and relax without a car.

If I went back to Maui, I’d be interested in:

  • Staying in Kaanapali or Kapalua in the Northwest
  • Revisiting the Hana Highway and Haleakala National Park

I’m biased though. Since William proposed to me at Haleakala, it and all of Maui will always be pretty special for us.hawaii8

Pre-Mission Trip Worries of Death

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Our home for a week

As I realized near the end of the college that I was becoming increasingly obsessed with traveling, I had a thought. As a Christian, I believe we all have a purpose here….and maybe God created me with a passion and curiosity for traveling and learning about different cultures for a reason. Maybe I was meant to do more than sight-see. I decided I wanted to pursue going on a mission trip!

My church, Bear Valley, had been going to India every single year in January since I was in the youth. I always wanted to go, but had never seriously considered until now. I emailed my pastor to get information, and the problem was the dates. I was starting to teach for my first year, and every year my church goes to India as soon as students are returning to school from the holiday break. Not only would it take me a couple of years if I never used a personal day to build up the time off, but it would still be highly frowned upon if I took off then (or if they even let me).

Well then, why would I feel so called to go somewhere when I couldn’t go with my church? I decided to start looking online for anything! I searched site after site. Some I didn’t trust. Some were insanely expensive. Some went to places that didn’t interest me. But I had found the Lifetree Adventures organization through a simple google search after a couple of hours. I found their website to be professional, they offered a ton of resources and sample itineraries, and they offered a variety of places, projects and dates.

The one that interested me the most was Peru. I hadn’t seen Peru as an option anywhere else. I had debated for a month, and in December 2013, I decided to sign up! I was officially in.

Then it sunk in…..what have I done? I just decided I was flying to a foreign country in South America for the first time by myself to meet a bunch of strangers? A bunch of strangers that would be taking me on a boat to the remote Amazon for days? Is it safe? Will I get a disease? Will an anaconda eat me?

I started googling to learn about all of the different threats and safety information available, which I’m not sure was a good idea. I learned about essentially a Peruvian mafia called Shining Path. I learned river pirates were a thing on certain tributaries of the Amazon. I learned about all of the crazy thefts that happened in Lima, even WHILE YOU WERE DRIVING IN TRAFFIC.

I also looked up vaccine recommendations and found it confusing, so I scheduled an appointment somewhere called the Passport Health Clinic in Grapevine. I basically was so scared, that I was convinced I should get everything even slightly recommended by the doctor except for the pre-rabies vaccination that was $900 for all 3 shots. So I got 2 shots in each arm (Hepatitis A/B combo, Polio booster, Tetanus booster, Yellow Fever), as well as took the pills to get the vaccination for Typhoid fever (looking back, I’m still kind of grateful I decided to get everything because I haven’t had to worry about getting vaccinated for any of my other trips, and I feel invincible). She gave me an informative book specifically printed with information about Peru that I actually read. I learned about approximately 4389743765938745 diseases and sicknesses I could develop that terrified me even more. I also bought some of the spray on DEET bug stuff that you put on your clothes and let air dry.

The book my doctor gave me also told me I should wear long sleeves and pants, even though Lifetree said I should bring shorts and short sleeve t-shirts. I decided to pack a mix of both: I understood it was hot but my thinking was “I just can’t let these bugs bite me and kill me in jungle.”

It also probably didn’t help that the people closest to me were even more worried than I was. Which made me feel like I had to act strong and brave in front of them, even though I wasn’t.

About a week before I left, I was scared out of my mind. I can’t tell you how many times I just thought about canceling. I have never been so fearful, but I knew deep down I had to go through with it. Once I boarded the first plane, I think I calmed down. It was too late now after all! When I landed in Lima, it was a bit of a relief to be in what felt like a normal airport. Everything was translated in English, and I clearly found my way to the exit. The last worry I had at that exact moment was finding my group. There were SO MANY PEOPLE and SO MANY SIGNS. What if it took me hours? What if I never found them and they left without me? Luckily, they had a sign that stood out, along with matching shirts. It only took about a minute.

And that was the last time I felt scared on my entire trip.

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All the people at the airport at 1:30am

I write this because I imagine, from the glamorous facebook view of just my amazing trip photos, that people thought I was comfortable with everything happening. And I KNOW many people are slightly scared to go to countries that probably really interest them. I just want to encourage you to take that first big leap. It wasn’t easy for me, but it ended up being one of the best things that ever happened to me. It not only showed me what a wonderful country Peru was, but what a wonderful big world we live in. There’s so much out there for me to see. It helped build my confidence for traveling anywhere. The next year, I signed up to go to Haiti through Lifetree again and I didn’t worry at all. Even though Haiti is probably a bit more dangerous on the whole, I knew it would be ok and that I would be in good hands. I also am thankful for this specific experience, because it was the first time I had internationally traveled and really interacted with locals. The people there were so great, so kind, so helpful. And when I went to Haiti, the people there were too! And when I went to India, the people there were too! Even in countries with bad things happening, or bad reputations – do your research with a grain a salt. Typically, the majority of humans are good. Something bad happening in a country is not happening literally in every single part of it (usually). And many of the crimes that occur are just as bad, or less, than what happens in America.

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I’m just as likely to get robbed here at home as I am in Lima. Why was I so worried when I personally know people robbed at gunpoint in a neighborhood I lived in, and at the mall I grew up going to?

The Shining Path mafia was mainly concentrated in Northern Peru, and most of their activities were not focused on tourists.

The river pirates also were a few hundred miles north of us. And even then, Lifetree assured me in one of the many scared emails I sent that they had armed guards on the boat. However, nothing has ever happened on any of the trips.

I can get bitten by a brown recluse or copperhead snake. I can get West Nile from a mosquito. Why was I so worried about the Peruvian insects and animals when I don’t even bat an eye here at home? By the way, I realized long sleeves and pants were a NO GO after one day on the boat. Not happening. Bite me (literally)!

My trip to Peru was insightful, eye-opening, powerful, and so important for me. It was truly a turning point in my life.

And dealing with the parasite afterwards wasn’t THAT bad. 🙂 (To be continued……)

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