Tomorrow I head out on what will probably be my last adventure of this year (more on that later), so I thought I should really wrap up the photos from my last big adventure before I go. Part 1 of our trip to Hawaii: HERE.
Five days into our trip, we hopped a ferry to Lanai, an island about seven miles from Maui. Our hotel in Lanai was just unbelievably gorgeous. There were flowers of every shade imaginable growing around the hotel, little ponds and streams between all the buildings, lizards and frogs everywhere, and a pair of wild turkeys. The first day, we took a bus up to Lanai City – the small town in the crater of the island. The top of the island was totally different – it looked more like the Pacific Northwest and was slightly chilly and foggy.
Aside from the short trip to Lanai City, we didn’t really do any exploring on Lanai. We walked on the beach, swam in the pool, ate really good food… and that was about it. It was so quiet and peaceful there, and I was sort of wishing we’d stayed for three nights instead of two. After a couple days, we got back on the ferry for Maui.
The ferry ride started out pretty calm – the ferries there are big catamarans. We were sitting on the top, outside, because it was a beautiful day. As we swung around the tip of the island, the captain came outside and announced to the fifteen of us sitting out there, “Just so you know, it’s going to get a little rough and there might be some spray from the water, so if you want to come inside for the rest of the ride, you should do it now.” We only had thirty minutes left in the trip, and John and I don’t get seasick, so we decided to stay outside.
Let’s just say, “A little rough” was the understatement of the year. We were totally pummeled by the waves. I clutched my camera bag to my chest and practically wrapped myself around it so it wouldn’t get wet or fly overboard. I wrapped my other arm around John, and we rode like that for half an hour. Up the waves, and down the waves – it was just like being on a really long roller coaster ride. At first it felt like the boat was going to capsize, but once we realized that we probably weren’t going to tip over, it was actually kind of fun. Everyone was laughing and whooping as we went up and down the waves. I think I would have been totally terrified if I wasn’t a good swimmer or it was stormy and we were far from land, but when we got off, I just laughed, “I kind of want to do that again.” I looked at the people standing in line to take the ferry back over to Lanai, and kind of wanted to warn them about what they were in for.
The first part of our trip, we stayed in Kaanapali, but for our second stay on Maui, we wanted to stay on another part of the island, so we picked Makena. We spent most of our time on this side of the island at Maluaka Beach Park. I’m sure there are better beaches on Maui, but this one ended up being my favorite. I found Kaanapali Beach hard to swim at, partly because it was rough in the afternoons, and partly because the reef was so close to shore. Unless you were snorkeling, it wasn’t exactly the best floating-on-your-back-in-the-water beach. Maluaka has a reef, but it’s not right at the shoreline, and the water in the afternoons was super calm and clear. I could have swam here forever. I just loved it.
Our whole trip, we had been planning to snorkel, but we kept putting it off and putting it off. We found out there was a catamaran that left from Maluaka and went out to Molokini for a two hour snorkel. The only catch being that we had to get up at 5am. I knew we would regret it if we didn’t go, so we signed up, and sleepily trudged out to the beach in the early morning of our last day. I really regret not renting underwater casing for my camera for this trip or even buying a cheap underwater camera. Snorkeling at Molokini was – by far – the best thing we did during the whole trip. I wish we didn’t wait until our last day to do it, as I would have loved to go out again. The water is just crystal clear and it’s like swimming in an aquarium. I’ve never experienced anything like it in my life. I was just surrounded by fish of every color and shape. If you are going to Maui, you have to do this.
After our swim at Molokini, the boat crew took us to another spot just off the shore of Maui to look for green sea turtles. They hang out in the rocky ledges just off the beach. We all jumped into the water and within five minutes this enormous sea turtle came slowly swimming up from the bottom. I couldn’t even believe what I was seeing. You think sea turtles are going to be maybe a foot or two long, but these things were absolutely massive. Probably about my size. You have to stay ten feet away from the turtles, since they are protected. After a few minutes another appeared, and then another. One swam right toward me, and I kept having to swim backwards away from him – he seemed as interested in me as I was him. I never wanted to get out of the water. I just wanted to float there all day long while green sea turtles swam around me. It was probably one of the best experiences of my life.
We spent the rest of the day on the beach, napping and reading and soaking up the last bit of vacation goodness. In the afternoon, we went swimming again, and two more huge turtles came right up to feed along a big rock on the beach. We stood in waist deep water and they just paddled around, hanging out. If you want to see sea turtles, Maluaka was the place to do it. I’m so glad we stayed there.
The next day we were headed home on the red eye. We had a lot of time to kill before we had to be at the airport, so we spent a little time in Kihei, visiting some little shops there. I stopped to buy some handmade soap at a little shop, and started talked to the shop owner. She asked what I did, and when I told her I was a photographer in New York City, she mentioned she knew Annie Leibovitz. I was stunned. It turns out I was buying soap from Susan Sontag’s niece, of all people.
After that, we visited the Maui Ocean Center, which was actually kind of a disappointing thing to do after you’ve gone snorkeling the day before and seen all those same fish in the wild. We probably should have gone there before we went snorkeling. We then drove back to Lahaina and made Ululani’s our very last stop before we went to the airport. We ate shave ice and stared at the ocean and it was the best possible way to say goodbye to Hawaii.