The beautiful Hawaiian islands of Maui and Kauai are breathtaking not only in their appearance and natural landscape, but also in their tradition and culture. The concept of aloha and ohana holds precedent in the lives of Hawaiians as they demonstrate that love and respect flow through the roots of their customs.
Aloha, which is used as a greeting, a farewell, and an overall expression of respect, compassion, peace, and mercy, is prominent in the daily routines of the locals. Aloha creates an island vibe that reverberates a message of love throughout the islands.
“Ohana means family, family means nobody gets left behind or forgotten”
– Lilo, ‘Lilo & Stitch’
Ohana is an expression of connection, a bond between individuals both blood and otherwise; it is a reminder to never forget those you hold dear and that cooperation is necessary in maintaining a life filled with aloha spirit.
The lands, waters, and spirits (animals, plants, and persons alike) are respected and honoured through different Hawaiian rituals, some of which I was blessed enough to experience firsthand with my ohana.
First stop on my Hawaiian adventure was Maui. We rented a 2 bedroom unit in the Honua Kai resort overlooking the ocean and rolling landscape. The beachfront at our resort offered a safe haven for sea turtles and seals. The sea turtles swam closer in to the beach alongside the swimmers from the rocky cliff edges where the seals lounged. A gentle reminder to all those who swim alongside them to please avoid touching these gentle creatures and to simply observe them.
Although more tourist orientated and built up than Kauai, Maui still embodied a very au natural feel rather than that of a typical modern American state. Our trip was filled will Hula Pie (a Hawaiian dessert), sunshine, and oh so many adventures.
We signed up for a catamaran and snorkelling excursion via Maui Adventure Cruises. The boat sailed us away to the island of Lanai where a pod of spinner dolphins swam alongside us. We docked for lunch and ate barbecue in a beach hut. We danced to salsa music as we geared up and headed to our snorkelling spot. The location was perfect as schools of colourful fish swarmed us and wove in and out of the coral reefs. Right before swimming back to the boat, our guide called to my brother and me, gesturing us to follow him. As we swam away from the crowd, I could begin to see why he was bringing us further away. The pod of spinners was approaching, dancing through the hues of blue in the most majestical manner. They danced all around us effortlessly and free, playful and curious – a truly unforgettable moment forever engrained in my memory. Kicking off our flippers we put on our figurative dancing shoes and celebrated our day cheers-ing with rum punch as we headed back to shore. En route our captain spotted three whales breaching. The powerful and majestic creatures jumped through the surf and flapped their tails in play. Our guides explained that we were lucky to see this family of whales as it was off season for the humpbacks and they’d be headed towards warmer waters. The tour was absolutely outstanding and our guides went above and beyond to show us a good time.
The Road to Hana is a day long (if not longer) road trip through the lush landscape along the highway to Hana. We drove ourselves in our rented Jeep using the Road To Hana guided CD as reference, stopping along the way at different mile markers that intrigued us; our pit stops included the Twin Falls, Garden of Eden Arboretum, Waikamoi Ridge Trail, Upper Waikani Falls, Kahanu Garden, Koki Beach, Wailua Falls, wai’anapanapa State Park, ‘Ohe’o Gulch, and the backside of Haleakalā. From the beautiful greenery and colourful plants that adorned the trails to the ever flowing waterfalls, the road to Hana was filled with miles of nearly untouched beauty. The ‘Ohe’ o Gulch, also referred to as the Seven Sacred Pools, was my favorite stop on the tour. The freshwater pools cascaded down in a stream which flowed directly into the ocean. We took a refreshing dip in one of the pools before starting our journey back to our resort. The Road to Hana is beautiful and if you choose to explore it you must be ready for an abundance of hiking and the long winding roads along steep mountainous regions. Drive slow, stop and smell the flowers, and take in every beautiful moment. Don’t forget to pack yourselves some snacks and lots of water, the trip is a long one!
At 3:00 a.m. my dad and I drove out to Haleakalā to watch the sunrise over the crater and national park. The sun’s rays illuminates the abyss, turning the darkness into light, and thus summoning a new day. Watching as the sun paints its colourful brush over the fading night sky from the highest point in Maui is awe-inspiring. Haleakalā, which means house of the sun, is considered sacred to Native Hawaiians and if you look closely enough you can spot cultural artifacts adorning the area. The Summit, top of the crater, is nearly freezing especially right at the crack of dawn so remember to bring warm clothing and blankets to truly enjoy the sunrise – and trust me the early morning wakeup call is well worth it.
To cap off our time in Maui we attending a luau – a traditional Hawaiian celebration and party. We feasted on a pig roast, enjoyed a traditional hula dance (participating in it as well), and were mesmerized by the acrobatic fire dancers who set ablaze our night.
Kauai is the eldest of the Hawaiian islands and is home to lush jungles, coastal landscapes, white sandy beaches, cascading waterfalls, and an underwater world tucked under the tides and hidden within coves.
We stayed at the Grand Hyatt Resort and Spa; this resort was luxurious with upscale amenities, immaculate gardens, and delicious on-site restaurants. The pools are kept at a refreshing temperature, providing a cool oasis from the sun.
My cousin Bryan, his wife, and their baby, Maya, live on Kauai, and were kind enough to act as our tour guides.
As siblings are, my brother and I are naturally born competitors and we couldn’t wait to hit the waves and learn to surf. We took a lesson at Poipu beach before venturing off with Bryan at Hanalei to continue to test our new skills. We picked up the standing part fairly quickly, but got thrashed and tossed around like laundry in a washing machine once up. My brother and I kept at it until we were able to balance and master the smaller waves. We didn’t dare test our luck with the larger ones but watched perched on our surfboards as experienced surfers carved in and out harmoniously.
My dad and I ventured to Waimea Canyon, nicknamed ‘The Grand Canyon of the Pacific’. Through the winding roads we drove for hours stopping at different lookout points to take in the colossal canyon that lay in front of us. It is in moments like these, standing at the top of a ridge, looking out at vast pure nature that I realize just how magnificent our world is and how much of the earth I’m still waiting to explore.
The 12 day trip gave me merely a taste of what Hawaii has to offer and I cannot wait to explore the other islands of Hawaii and discover the lands of Maui and Kauai further.
Aloha and see you again soon,
**all photos taken by me, video edited by me**