Everyone remembers their first time visiting a tropical destination. The initial few steps off the plane lead you into sweltering, yet satisfying humidity and all you want to do is jump into the magnificently teal waters that seemed unreal as the plane was landing. You can’t help but think, ‘it’s exactly like the movies’.
Those were my thoughts four years ago when I had the opportunity to visit Maui for two weeks on my first island vacation. I had some great adventures during my time there, so if Maui is on your radar, I invite you to read about my personal experiences and favorite destinations to help with your vacation plans!
Snorkeling, Skip the Tour
Having the opportunity to swim amongst tropical fish and graceful sea turtles in their natural habitat is a must when you go to Maui. The first thing people do? They book a guided snorkeling expedition. While these can be great for some, my experience wasn’t the best. The boat took us out to the famous Molokini Crater, which is a partially submerged crater that’s home to incredible underwater sea creatures.
The crater was beautiful, until we had to share the area with six other chartered snorkeling boats. Each put out barriers, and we were only allowed to snorkel within a designated space. This made things very crowded, so dodging people took priority over enjoying the wildlife.
Instead of spending money on a tour, rent out your own equipment and explore beaches across the island (preferably ones with calm bays). I did this for the rest of my time on the island and it was incredible. There were always sea turtles and oodles of rainbow colored fish to swim with; no human dodging involved.
Also known as the “house of the sun” this dormant volcano crater is the main stage for the most breathtaking sunrises and sunsets in Maui. What sets the experience apart though is the perspective; you’re above the clouds as the sun makes her stunning entrance. You can hike, bike, or drive to get to the top, but remember to pack warm clothes since the temperature can drop to -6°C/20°F. I chose to drive to the top but forgot to bundle up, which I immediately regretted once I was up there. It’s also a great idea to bring some coffee or warm tea to enjoy once you find a good place to watch the show!
The Road to Hana
This is quite easily one of the scariest roads I’ve ever driven on, and I would do it a hundred more times. The 64-mile highway takes you on an exciting journey through the rainforest, across one-lane bridges, and ends in the lovely town of Hana. You have the option to take buses along the road, but I rented a convertible instead so I could take the trip at my own pace.
Red Sand Beach
If you’re all about traveling away from the main crowd, I suggest visiting the Red Sand Beach. It’s located in Hana and you have to walk through what seems like someone’s backyard and down a windy path in order to access it. Once you arrive, you can hike over some rocks to a natural pool that’s fed by the waves from the ocean. If skinny-dipping is your jam, it’s definitely welcomed here since the beach is hidden almost never crowded. Use these directions from the Maui Guide Book to get there.
Live in the Moment
Planning a trip to Hawaii can be overwhelming simply because there’s so much to do, and never enough time to do it all. To help ease this overwhelmed feeling simply embrace the island time phenomenon and do things at a comfortable and relaxed pace. While there are endless views to see, places to go, and activities to do, sometimes it’s best to enjoy the beauty of the present moment with a Mai Tai in hand and warm sand between your toes.
Bree is an aspiring travel blogger with a passion for exploring music festivals across the United States. She accepts the fact that she’s a crazy cat lady with an obsession for patterned pants, and eventually wants to run a successful sewing business making capes and ponchos. She aspires to study herbalism and incorporate it into naturopathic nutrition counseling for her long-term career.