Sunday, June 26, 2011

Five Days Of Tropical Bliss

Have you ever dreamed of a Hawaiian vacation?  Perhaps you’ve been there many times.  My husband and I went to Maui in February of this year and it was even more magical and wonderful than I had imagined.  I loved Maui so much that I have not been able to stop talking about our trip since we came home and I truly believe that once you’ve been there you take a piece of it home with you that stays forever in your heart.

We decided to take our dream vacation after a very tough year.  2010 brought the passing of my father and a very stressful administration and closing of his estate, on top of the fact that I have been unemployed since the spring of 2009 and we were feeling the financial crunch.  In January I had to make a trip to Montana to appear in court for the formal estate closing and when I returned home I realized that I was exhausted, drained and in serious need of rejuvenation!  I told my husband I wanted to go to Hawaii and, after some initial resistance, he agreed and we booked our trip.

We left Seattle near the end of February with snow on the ground and the excitement of small children in a large toy store for the first time.  Everything went smooth and easy at the airport and before we knew it we were in the air and on our way to Maui.

The flight itself was pleasant (Hawaiian Airlines makes the flight fun!) and went by quickly and when we stepped off that plane into the beautiful, warm Maui sunshine I truly thought I had died and gone to heaven!  To say we had arrived in Paradise was an understatement!

We quickly got our luggage, into our shuttle and were on our way to Ka’anapali Beach and 5 days of pure tropical bliss.  The scenery on the 40-minute drive to Ka’anapali Beach was stunning with turquoise blue waters and white sandy beaches, palm trees swaying slightly with the breeze, colorful tropical flowers and fields of sugar cane, all with the lush Maui mountains looming in the distance! 

We stayed at the Ka'anapali Beach Hotel, considered to be Hawaii's "Most Hawaiian Hotel."  The hotel and staff are committed to giving each guest a true hawaiian experience and daily classes are offered in hula, lei making, pineapple cutting, ukelele lessons and much more.  The views from the hotel are simply fabulous!

Once we were settled in to our lovely room with it's beautiful views we donned shorts and sunscreen and set off to explore the beach and resort area.  I felt completely carefree for the first time since my father died and when we hit the beach I just couldn’t believe how beautiful it was and how warm the water felt as I walked along the shoreline.  We had dinner at the hotel’s own outdoor restaurant and watched the free nightly hula show as we enjoyed our delicious dinner and mai-tai’s.  We sat on our balcony that evening and watched late night swimmers play in the whale-shaped pool while the live music still played in the background and hotel guests laughed from the outdoor bar.  It could not have been nicer or more romantic!

We got up on our first morning in Hawaii anxious to check out Lahaina.  We decided to forego cab fare and chose to walk the 3.5 miles into the historic whaler’s town.  The view along the way was fantastic!  

The long walk went by fast in the warm Maui sunshine and when we looked behind us the Ka’anapali beach resort hotels got smaller and smaller in the distance.  Very soon we reached Lahaina and headed towards Front Street, the heart of Lahaina.

We were pretty hungry by the time we reached town and I told my husband I wanted to eat at the first restaurant we came across, which, with luck, just happened to be the Bubba-Gump Shrimp Company.  We enjoyed a great lunch of mahi-mahi tacos with a seat along the beach and a great view of the boats in Lahaina harbor.  We then made our way through the many stores and vendors and managed to spend a lot of money on fun hawaiian souvenirs.  We walked along to the end of Front Street and under the world’s largest Banyan Tree, which covers a whole block and is adorned with artists who sell their crafts and wares beneath it’s hanging limbs.  That stroll led us to the famous Lahaina harbor; a very busy place full of tourists waiting to sail on romantic dinner cruises, to Lanai and other wonderful Hawaiian destinations.
After our long walk and all our shopping and traversing around Lahaina we were tired and loaded down with goodies so we opted to ride the bus back to our hotel.  I was very pleased with the great transit service in and around the Ka'anapali Beach Resort area and Lahaina.  It is very convenient to get around if you don't feel like walking or renting a car for the 3.5 mile trip!  We got back to our hotel, admired our finds and set out to find some dinner.  We had a fantastic dinner at The Hula Grill in their sand bar, our toes wriggling in the soft Maui sand as a lively hawaiian band played a fun mix of traditional and modern hawaiian music along with some classic rock and a bit of alternative thrown in for good measure.  We sauntered back to our hotel along the path that connects all the hotels in the Ka'anapali Beach resort area and fell into bed full of anticipation for our trip up to Mt. Haleakala early the next morning.

By 7am on our 2nd day we were up, dressed warmly as recommended for the mountains, fed and eager to set out on our volcanic adventure.  AT 7:15 am we were on our way and picked up fellow tourists as we made our way out of the resort into the heart of Maui.  It was a beautiful drive full of hawaiian lore provided by our tour guide and as we made our way up the very long, steep and winding road to Mt. Haleakala the veiws were simply astounding!  We made stops along the way to take pictures because, as our guide explanied, the valley would fill with clouds by the time we would be making our way back down, leaving little to photograph.  Finally we arrived at the summit of Mt. Haleakala.  We were above the clouds!  The views into the crater were breathtaking.  The raw beauty of the rough and desolate land was a striking difference from the lush green that covered the rest of the island.  There is no vegetation or insects that high up, just cool crisp air and clouds!

 After we got back down off the volcano we stopped for lunch and then headed to the Iao Valley and the famous Iao Needle.  The tour guide told us of a great battle that was fought there and when the fighting was over the hills ran red with blood and the stream that runs through the valley was packed with the bodies of hawaiian warriors.  When we stepped off of the tour bus I was taken back by the lush jungle and beauty of the valley.  It was as though I just walked into Jurrasic Park and feared that at any moment a dinosaur would come crashing through the dense brush and carry me away.  We climbed around the trail and scenic areas and took pictures of this rich and lush valley.

Back at the hotel we rested from our tour, refreshed ourselves with a drink at the Tiki Terrace open bar and grill and took the short walk to Whaler's Village, a plethora of shops, souvenier stands, galleries and, of course, the Whaler's Museum, a fascniating place full of whaling history, lore, artifacts and pictures of the old whaling days in Lahaina.  We ate what was the best meal I've ever had at Leilani's, an open air restaurant right on the beach.  What could be more perfect than eating a wonderful meal to the sounds of waves gently caressing the shore as the sun sets over sparkling blue waters?

Our 3rd morning found us eager to play on the beach.  We hit the water like a couple of children, laughing and floating as the big waves carried us to the shore and back out again.  We played and swam and lounged in the Maui heat all afternoon.
After frolicking in the waves and sun we found some dinner and took a late night swim in the whale-shaped pool while the music from the nightly hula show wafted across the evening breeze.

On our 4th morning we slept in and caught a late breakfast at the hotel.  We wandered the resort that day, enjoying the view, the sights and each other.
After spending the day around the resort we finally got to go to our Luau at the Royal Lahaiana Resort, just a short walk from our hotel.  The luau was a spectacle of dance and music and fire with delicious food and a great crowd who were really in the Aloha spirit!

We even learned the hula and entertained the crowd while the pig was being served!

Our final day was a day spent finishing up our souvenier shopping and getting in one last swim in that wonderful warm Hawaii ocean.  We had a magic dinner show to attend at the hotel that evening and waited anxiously in the lobby for the show to begin. 

The show was amazing and mystifying with a great dinner and autographs and pictures at the end.  If you go to Hawaii both my husband and I highly recommend the show.

Waking up on our last morning was a bit depressing I will admit.  I didn't want to go home...can you tell by this picture?

It was hard to face leaving the beauty and warmth of Maui to return to the cold dreary wet of Seattle. 
Our trip to Maui will live forever in our memory and hearts!

See more about the wonderful Ka'anapali Beach Hotel here:


Sandy said...

WOW, it sounds like you had a wonderful time!
Very nice blog and the pictures were beautiful.
It makes me want to go like "right now", sigh.

Mary said...

Too cool!
Looks like a wonderful vacation.
You two look so great together it must be love!