Saturday, 30 August 2014

There are holidays and THEN there are holidays - Maui August, 2014

Recently, I posted an entry regarding my experience on Via Rail. This was the beginning of a very interesting - and lengthy - journey culminating in a river cruise down the Douro River in Northern Portugal. In addition to the train debacle, we enjoyed a two week Transatlantic cruise from Miami to Copenhagen, Denmark. This was followed by several days in Lisbon with fans from the Premiere League football (soccer) final prior to the aforementioned river cruise. The final leg was spent in London as is our usual routine. I counted it up and, during this six week period, we packed/unpacked 10 times. Don't get me wrong, it was a fascinating trip and I'm thrilled to have been able to do it but, truthfully, I was exhausted.

Today, I'm writing this entry from paradise. Now, THIS is a holiday. THIS is where one lies around like third base doing as little as possible. THIS is where there are no flight schedules (except coming in and going out), no meeting times, no reservations, no deadlines. Just bring a book and some music and get comfortable.

Aloha! Welcome to Maui - make yourself at home. Where the sound of the nearby surf lulls you to sleep and where the gentle cooing of doves awakens you to a new day.

This is my home for several weeks every summer - Napili Surf. You will find me (and my husband) on one of these chairs in a pair of sunglasses lying on a blue and white striped beach towel with ear buds in my ears and my kindle at the ready. Cooling trade winds blow fairly consistently insuring that I am seldom overheated. This almost always results in a refreshing nap - that is unless there happen to be a number of boisterous children nearby. This, fortunately, is not a common occurrence during this particular time of year.

And this is the view from the lawn. This is Napili Bay - full of sun worshippers, snorkelers,  boogie boarding children, fools on paddle boards for the first time (now, that's really funny to watch) and often, a black lab or two chasing a yellow tennis ball into the ocean. The waves are not usually strong enough for surfing as there is a reef a ways out that naturally protects the bay. But from time to time news travels the network that "surf's up" and the beach is suddenly full of long boards and long shorts for a few runs on the waves - no matter how short lived.

The property here at the Surf is a series of studio and one-bedroom condo units. There are two pools here for those of us who can no longer negotiate the sand on the beach. We have a full kitchen with all the conveniences - microwave, dishwasher, corkscrew, coffeemaker, etc. - making it easy to just stay home. We even have a self-serve laundry on site. There is a wonderful farmer's market twice a week just down the road and an excellent fish market with fresh catch every day. There are several full service supermarkets as well for all your grocery needs. For those Canadians reading this, the grocery stores even have a rather large section of alcohol removing the need for yet another shopping stop. Now, there are many fabulous restaurants here on the island, one of which I'll get to in the next entry, but my point is that there is no need to meet a reservation time if you just don't want to.

I realize there are those who couldn't stand to simply lie around all day. For you, there is plenty to see and do on the island of Maui. One of the oldest dormant volcanoes is right here - Haleakala is the place to go to experience one of the most glorious sunrises in the world. It stands at 13,000 feet, so if you go pre-dawn be sure to bring some warm clothes because it can be pretty cold up there. 

There is the road to Hana - a narrow drive, full of hairpin turns, through Maui's rainforest - stunning waterfalls and spectacular views will be your reward. Lahaina is the main town here on West Maui - full of shops and restaurants - and aging hippies. This is a fun place to be. For really upscale shopping, you need to go over to South Maui and the Shops at Wailea. This area has the most expensive resort hotels, thus the upscale shops. 

Many first-timers will take a helicopter tour of the island. While rather pricey, it's a great way to see the beautiful natural wonders of the valley isle. Another newcomer experience is a boat ride/snorkeling trip out to Molokini Reef. This is a large reef near Red Hill on the south side that has one of the most amazing collections of reef-dwelling creatures anywhere. In recent years, it has been terribly overcrowded but that may be changing. There are hiking trails, arboretums, black sand beaches, zip lines, horseback riding, parasailing adventures and, of course, golf. There seems to be something for every activity level on Maui.

If you want to see more than this, consider leaving the island for the day. There are three islands off the coast of South/West Maui that provide it some protection from Mother Nature. The island of Moloka'i is in the photo above - this is what we see from our little patch of beach. There are inter island flights and ferries from Lahaina every day that make it possible to make a short visit. Moloka'i is rather undeveloped, with a population of only 7000. And that's how the residents want it. They have fought tooth and nail to keep cruise ships from docking there, and they've won. The next island over is Lana'i. It's a small island with just a few resorts but they're beautiful developments and, if you're a golfer, this is the place to be. The third island, Kaho'olawe is, as yet, uninhabitable although the state is busy cleaning it up. During WWII, it was used as a testing area for land mines so, needless to say, it is not yet safe.

So, when is a holiday really a holiday? When you don't have to do anything at all - unless you choose to. 


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