Maui Trip and 28th Birthday

I brought in my 28th birthday while on vacation in Maui. I had been to Hawaii twice before with my family, but it was my first trip there as an adult. Kevin and I flew in on Sunday morning. We stayed at the Westin which wasn’t the best hotel I’ve stayed in, but it was nice enough. The property itself, including an artificial waterfall that housed five flamingos, a black and white swan, and a bunch of coy fish, was nice. The room wasn’t the nicest but luckily we didn’t spend much time in it.

On our first day in Maui we justrelaxedat the adult pool all day. There were a lot of families with young children, so I was very glad that there was a cleaner, quieter adult pool to swim in. OnTuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday morning we woke up very early to drive 45 minutes south to Kiheito go scuba diving. We dove with Mike Severns diving company all three days. The dive instructors were fabulous. They were really friendly and knowledgeable about each of the dive areas. Before each dive they did a ten minute education session during whichthey’d bring out a book to point outthe kind of things we should be on the lookout for at the dive site.

Diving was the highlight of my trip. We did two dives each day, and while they now seem to have all burred together, we saw new, cool things everyday, even on some of the dives at the same dive sites we had been to the day before. Each day we would do the first dive at Molokini whichis a crescent-shaped, partially submerged volcanic crater (pic below).Its crescent shape protects the coral from waves and the channel’s powerful currents which makes it an idea scuba diving spot. After the first dive we would go to another spot closer to the Maui shore.

One of the dive sites we went to was St. Anthony’s Ship Wreck. It was me and Kevin’s first ship wreck dive so we were excited about it.Even though the St. Anthony’s Wreck was intentionally sunk in 1997 as an artificial reef, it was still cool. The wreck is 65 feet long.There is also a tire reef just off the wreck which consists of groups of old tires stuck to concrete blocks. The wreck reef does attract a lot of different sea life. One of the fish we were briefed on beforehand was the frogfish which is a fish that looks like a blog and is spectacular at camouflaging itself, and I was lucky enough to see it during my dive…well, actually, I would have missed the little blob if our instructor hadn’t pointed it out.

Some other cool stuff we encountered was aa shrimp eating a starfish and a starfish eating an urchin. The shrimp had tackled an entire starfish and when our instructor tried to take it from the shrimp to show their behavior, the little shrimp held on tightly and didn’t let the starfish go even though we are so much larger than the little guy. It was impressive to watch. On another dive we were all admiring a beautiful, large starfish and then when it started swimming/drifting away it left what looked like a bloody rock behind. It was the craziest thing. Afterwards I asked our instructor what the heck it was and he explained that the starfish eats sea urchins by basically swallowing them whole, and what we saw was the starfish disposing the rest of it. So cool.

My favorite sea life we saw on the trip though were sea turtles and whales–yes, whales! Apparently late April is late in the season for whales to still be hanging out, but I’m glad they were. We saw a mom,her calf and an “”escort.”” We saw them pretty clearly on the boat but hearing them underwater was even more spectacular. I have never experienced anything like it. When you’re underwater you don’t hear a lot. I mainly hear the sound of my regulator/equipment as we’re breathing underwater, any boats driving by nearby, and sometimes a crackling noise which is actually the sound of a tiny shrimp. The whales however are super vocal and while seeing them from the boat was neat, I think hearing them communicate underwater was even better. I didn’t see them while I was diving but for how clear I could hear them it felt like they were a few feet away rather than a few hundred feet away.

I am also obsessed with sea turtles so I told our instructors that I really wanted to see some. On the last day of our last dive we came upon a little cove where three were hanging out. At first I wasn’t really watching anything underwater because I was busy trying not to breathe/make too much noise so I could listen to the whales, but then I saw the turtles. One of the male turtles was cozying up to another turtle (i’m assuming female) and another male turtle tried getting closer to them to turtle #1’s dislike, so turtle #1 nipped at turtle #2 until he swam away. Then Turtle #1 and #3 kind of just laid there. I was so giddy at stumbling across not one but three turtles. I wanted to take a million pictures but I also didn’t want to get too close and scare them away. Sea turtles are really beautiful creatures and it was the perfect way to end our last dive of the trip.

As far as food, there were two places we liked. We loved Star Noodle. Kev and I split several things from the menu and loved everything. Friends and co-workers also highly recommendedMama’s Fish House, so I made dinner reservations there for my birthday that Thursday.Mama’s Fish Housewas tight on reservations so we weren’t able to get in until 8:30pm but we got there a little early to have drinks at the bar first and we ended up just eating at the bar. The bartenders kept talking to the elderly couple sitting next to us and it wasn’t until they left that our bartender informed us that that was actually “”Mama”” herself and how she is still very active with the restaurant and has to approve any new menu additions or changes. The food was okay as far as vegetarian options but I liked the ambiance and the cocktail menu.

On our last day in Maui, since we spent a lot of time in/underwater, we planned a land activity. I wanted to do the Road to Hana but I read that the narrow roads were a little scary so I decided to do a tour rather than have Kevin drive us. Kev and I ended up being the only ones on the tour that day, but we didn’t mind because it was like our own private tour van. First we drove to Haleakala Crater whichlooks like another planet and apparently astronauts have been taken there for training because the surface does resemble that of another planet. What is interesting is that Mt. Haleakala is not actually atypical crater formed by volcanic activity. Haleakala Crater was formed over eons as the result of erosion of the entire volcanic mountain top. Over time, smaller lava flows back-filled the eroding valley, building up the floor of the Haleakala Crater.

We were at 10,023 feet at the Haleakala Crater Viewpoint literally above the clouds which was a stark contrast to the 100 ft. we were below surface the day before while scuba diving. Being so high in the sky, it was also quite windy. I actually felt afraid of heights at that altitude. After checking out the crater we drove back down the mountain and toHo’okipa Beach for lunch.Ho’okipa Beach is right by Mama’s Fish House, but since we went there for dinner and it was already dark, we didn’t see the beach. I’m glad we stopped there to have lunch because I was able to see a bunch of sea turtles swim up to shore to nap. It was cool seeing them close up on the beach but I have to admit that I got a little more satisfaction seeing them in their primary habitat in the water.

After lunch we continued on to the rainforest part of the tour. While driving the Road to Hana it’s easy to not realize that you’re driving through/around an actual rainforest. Throughout the tour our guide told us a lot of interesting things about native Hawaiians and the importance of preserving their ancestry as well as the history of how the road to Hana came to be. Although…Kevin was probably a bit more interested in that stuff than I was. I was glad I got to see more of Maui butI didn’t love the full day-long Crater and Rainforest tour nearly as much as the diving. It probably had to do with the fact that we were stuck in the car driving the majority of the time and I would have liked to be out of the car walking around and exploring more.

Our trip to Maui went by extremely fast, but I had a great time and I was really anxious for a tropical vacation. The trip was also about a month after me and Kev’s engagement, so it kind of felt like an engagement-moon 😉