Saturday, 11 July: We (my immediate family) woke up bright and early for our long day of flying. We flew from Tucson to Phoenix, then to Phoenix to Los Angeles, then finally, from Los Angeles to Maui. We were lucky enough to fly first class the whole way. It was especially nice for the five-hour flight to Maui, where I was able to watch some of my favorite shows and play some games. Once we got into Maui, we got groceries, checked into our hotel and later went to the beach and pool. Whether it was the jet lag, lousy amount I’ve sleep I had the two previous nights, or some combination of both, we went to bed early.
Sunday, 12 July: We had a relaxing day of hanging around the hotel and overcoming jetlag before going out for dinner.
Monday, 13 July: I went for a walk on the beach in the morning before we headed a few miles down the shore to Black Rock, a jumping point. I’ve probably been out of practice, but the swim there was tiring. My brothers and I jumped off the twenty foot rock into the ocean a few times before swimming back to shore for some snorkeling.
Tuesday, 14 July: We departed from Ka’anapali Beach on a boat to Honolua Bay for an afternoon of snorkeling. We snorkeled for about an hour and a half in the crystal clear waters, where the highlights were seeing a sea turtle and schools of upwards of a hundred fish. While we were eating lunch on the boat, we spotted a few Hawaiian spinner dolphins putting on a show in the mouth of the bay and a large sea turtle. On our way back, the dolphins drew nearer to the boat to ride our surf. Towards the end of our excursion, I met an Olympian and fellow passenger, silver medalist Megan Bozek from the U.S. women’s hockey team. I was starstruck, she was so sweet.
Wednesday, 15 July: After going out to breakfast, my brothers and I had a relaxing afternoon while my parents went to an owner’s meeting. We went to the beach and I spent some time reading by the pool. I’m now reading The Green Mile by Stephen King.
Thursday, 16 July: In the morning, we went snorkeling at Kapalua Bay. The highlights were seeing large schools of fish as close as arm’s reach away from us, the colorful coral, an eel, a puffer fish and best of all, two large turtles in shallow water. After that, we went to dinner at Kimo’s, my favorite meal of the trip. I temporarily broke my vegetarian diet to have some irresistible coconut crusted fish topped with peanut sauce and pineapple salsa served with rice and grilled vegetables and hula pie for dessert.
Friday, 17 July: We woke up early (just shy of two in the morning) for a self-guided bike tour down Haleakala. We rode up the mountain in a bus while the guide explained the route we were taking back down the mountain and pointed out good places to eat breakfast. At the summit, we watched the sunrise while we froze half to death. Although the clouds blocked the actual sun from looking like more than a yellow basketball in the sky, the colors before the sunrise were breathtaking. We rendezvoused back to the bus to descend down from the summit at 9,000 feet to the beginning of our bike ride at about 6,500 feet. The bike ride was peaceful and I enjoyed being able to stop, speed up and slow down as I please, which wouldn’t have been possible on a guided tour. The twenty-mile bike ride took us about two hours, including a stop for breakfast at a critically acclaimed bakery. We went snorkeling later that day at Napili Beach. I much prefer the clear waters and colorful coral of Honolua or Kapalua, but I can’t complain about a snorkeling trip where turtles were seen.
Saturday, 18 July: We drove around the west side of the island, taking a winding, thin road to our final destination of Paia, where we had lunch at a pizza place called Flatbread. This place is unique in that they bake the pizza in a brick oven and most of their ingredients are local and organic.
Sunday, 19 July: We drove around the south side of the island as far as the lava fields outside Wailea, where we also had lunch.
Monday, 20 July: We took a class in the morning that taught us scuba diving basics. After the “classroom” portion, we went over what we learned in the pool before our dive. This class was an alternative to getting a license, which is both time-consuming and expensive. After we passed the class and had a lunch break, we dove with our instructor right off the shore of our hotel. It was spectacular. We saw lots of fish, colorful coral and three turtles, one of them being about four feet long, the biggest one we saw all week. Our instructor captured the moments well with an underwater camera. I hope to one day get certified and scuba dive in other locations.
Tuesday, 21 July: In the morning (but not as early as our downhill bike ride), we took another boat trip to snorkel at Turtle Town and Molokini. Ironically, Turtle Town, known for its turtle-cleaning stations, was the only excursion we didn’t see a single turtle. Needless to say, it was disappointing. Molokini, however, was not. On our way to the crater from Turtle Town, we were greeted by a pod of Hawaiian spinner dolphins swimming close to the boat and putting on a show of jumping out of the water and, you guessed it, spinning. Once we were in the water, we got close to the crater, saw a wide variety of fish (more so than anywhere else on the island), a few eels and beautiful coral. The visibility of about 180 feet was incredible. Other than the aforementioned activities, during our time in Maui, we also enjoyed walks on the beach, playing card games, reading, driving around and having dinner in the town every night at places like Cheeseburger in Paradise and Hard Rock Cafe.
Wednesday, 22 July: We had a long day of traveling from Maui back to Los Angeles, but being in first class again makes it hard to complain.
We leave early tomorrow morning for the drive back to Tucson, which I anticipate to be a long and uncomfortable one, but I’m just excited to be home. I have been away from home for two months and it’s been a good view into what my time abroad will be like.