by Celece Seegmiller for The Spectrum, May 22, 2012
As I sat down to write my column this week, a quote from Mark Twain kept running over and over in my mind: “I went to Maui to stay a week and remained five. I never spent so pleasant a month before, or bade any place goodbye so regretfully. I have not once thought of business, or care or human toil or trouble or sorrow or weariness, and the memory of it will remain with me always.” I just returned from the beautiful island a few days ago and needless to say, I had plenty of material for my column this week.
I’ve traveled to Maui a few times in the past, mostly for work. I’ve spent many days touring hotel rooms and very little time actually enjoying the beautiful scenery. This time I was determined to have a different experience as we were celebrating my 40th birthday and I wanted nothing but rest and relaxation. My traveling companion, Rob, and I packed our bags for five days on Maui and 4 days on Oahu and were fortunate enough to fly from St. George with just a one hour connection in Los Angeles. Talk about convenient – avoiding the 2 hour commute to the airport and outrageous parking bill was wonderful!
When I travel, I really enjoy the hotel/resort experience and never stay in condominiums. This time, I opted for something different and was pleasantly surprised by the Honua Kai Resort and Spa located on north Kaanapali Beach. This luxurious resort was built in 2009 and offers everything from a 595 square foot studio suite to a palatial 2,650 sq. ft. specialty suite. There are one, two, and three bedroom suites offering beautiful garden and ocean views. Each suite features a private bathroom for each bedroom and so many more unexpected luxuries such as a fully furnished granite kitchen with Bosch appliances, washer and dryer, and all of the comforts from home. It is the perfect location for families or those who want the extra space and an option to dine in. The resort sits on 38 perfectly manicured acres and in the middle of the resort in an aquatic playground. The waterfall pool features a Keiki area where you can soak up the sun while watching your children play in shallow water. The calm pool is perfect cooling off or swimming laps. The Nanea pool provides a serene pool experience when it’s time for ultimate relaxation. When the sun goes down, everyone heads for Duke’s Beach Club located on the property near the beach. It is the perfect place to dine on local cuisine and fresh fish, enjoy a Mai Tai and watch the sun go down. I highly recommend Honua Kai to anyone visiting Maui and I can’t wait to schedule our next family reunion there (I hope my parents are reading this).
I’ve always wanted to snorkel at Molokini Crater, but never had the time in the past, so I immediately booked this with Trilogy Excursions and it was a highlight of the trip! Molokini is a crescent-shaped, partially submerged volcanic crater which forms a small islet located in Alalakeiki Channel between the islands of Maui and Kahoʻolawe.
Molokini crater is home to approximately 250 to 260 distinct marine species. Most commonly observed among these are the Black Triggerfish, Yellow Tang, Moorish Idol, Parrotfish, Raccoon butterflyfish and Bluefin Trevally. We set sail on a beautiful new catamaran and were greeted with delicious sweetbread cinnamon rolls and famous Kona coffee. It was the perfect day for sailing with crystal clear deep blue water and a light breeze. I’ve been on quite a few snorkel trips and Trilogy is the best by far. Their equipment, instruction, and service are superb, not to mention their friendly and knowledgeable crew. We snorkeled at Molokini and saw many species of colorful fish and reefs. We then boarded the cat for the Makena area where we snorkeled with sea turtles. What incredible creatures! Seeing them maneuver underwater and surface is a treat! All good things must come to an end, so we headed back to the marina and were served a tasty lunch as we sailed along the coast past the luxurious resorts in Wailea.
Molokini was crossed off my list and the next day brought another “must-do”: the road to Hana. The road to Hana is a love/hate attraction for many people. I went down this road once in the past, but it was on a tour bus. This time, I wanted the authentic experience, so we put the top down on the convertible and headed down the highway where 59 bridges (46 one lane) and 620 curves were waiting. The Hana chapter in the Maui Revealed book starts with “If Heaven Had a Highway” and I could not agree more. People often refer to it
as driving through the Garden of Eden with the lush rainforests and waterfalls. We left at 6:00 in the morning and had the road to ourselves for a good part of the day. Our first stop was for freshly-baked banana bread at Aunty Sandy’s – it was still warm and melted in my mouth! There is just nothing like eating fresh banana bread, sitting on the beach, and watching the blue waves crash against the black rocks. We continued to Wai’anapanapa, also known as the black sand beach where we explored the lava tubes and took many pictures of the dramatic landscape.
Finally, we made it to Hana and made our final stop at the Seven Sacred Pools were we found beautiful waterfalls and people cooling off in the pools with the waves crashing in the background. This is one of the many locations I refer to as the “Christmas card shot.” The day was getting late, so we jumped back on the highway and before we knew it, we were surrounded by what looked like the desert and Snow Canyon State Park with the black lava. I can’t believe the change in landscape within just a few miles. Near the end of the journey was the Tedeschi Winery where we stopped for a brief tasting and time to unwind after hours in the car. I could not help but wonder if the owners placed the winery at the end of the Hana journey on purpose. We finally arrived back at the resort around 4:30 in the afternoon. Yes, it was a very long day and I found myself closing my eyes and gripping the arm rest more than once, but it is one of the most beautiful places I have ever encountered. It’s the place I will refer to when someone says “Go to your happy place”.
The next few days were spent enjoying scenic drives to Kapalua and relaxing on the beach. Sadly, it was time to pack my bags and venture off to Oahu (which I will share in my next column). I now know what Mark Twain was referring to – I only had five days, but I would have stayed five weeks if my scheduled allowed. Regardless if you have been to Maui many times or have always wanted to visit, there is something magical about Maui every time you visit.