United States of America · 7 Days · 16 Moments · December 2018

24 December 2018

After completing the terrifying drive around the north end of Maui, we stocked up on food & beverages at a Safeway in Lahaina. Since it was the afternoon of Christmas Eve, and Lahaina is the epicenter of tourism on this island, it was a zoo. Empty shelves, people frantically grabbing what ever they could find, shopping carts piled high with only beer & potato chips. We got out of there with our booze & bacon as soon as we could. From there we went on to meet up with my aunt, cousin & her family who were staying in a resort nearby. Our visit included a walk down to the ocean to see a group of dozing sea turtles. They were so big and so close! From there we drove a little bit further south to check into Camp Olowalu.
Today we decided to tackle the Kahekili Hwy around the north end of Maui. To call it a highway is a joke. It’s basically a narrow paved path on the side of a mountain. It was a crazy idea but we had no clue just how crazy until it was too late to turn around. If the weather had been dry & clear, we could have enjoyed the many scenic over looks, waterfalls & beaches. But the fog, rain, falling rocks, narrow one lane “road”, washed out bridges, hairpin turns, blind corners, shear drop off cliffs, oncoming traffic, and 20 foot long camper van all combined to make an excruciatingly long & terrifying road trip. After 2 hours of white knuckle driving on a two way mountain road the width of a bike path, I’ve never felt so happy to see a yellow line on the road again as when we finally made it around the top and into the little town of Kapalua.
Last morning at our secret Maui camping spot on the land preserve. It was raining off and on, but we managed to get a few moments of sunshine to explore the beach in between rain showers. The resident peacock came to see us off as we headed out for the next adventure.

23 December 2018

Woke up this morning to the sound of wind in the trees, crashing waves & birds singing. We had a yummy breakfast at our campsite before heading into town for a day on the water. My parent’s friend Roger let us borrow his 3 stand up paddle boards for a morning lesson on calm water. Mom took a few initial spills into the ocean, but eventually we all got the hang of it & paddled around close to shore. Then it was off to the Pacific Whale Foundation for an afternoon whale watching tour leaving from Maalaea Harbor. The naturalist on board shared her knowledge & experience about these large mammals as we searched the ocean for their blow hole spouting. We were lucky to see the dorsal & tail fins of several humpback whales. At one point we were close enough to hear the sound of air blowing through their blow holes. 🐋

22 December 2018

Checked out of the hostel in Honolulu & flew to Maui. We got picked up by my parent’s friend Roger & hung out in Kihei while waiting for the camper van to be ready for pickup. After a great lunch of fish tacos & beer, we met our camper van contact through AirBnB at the Costco parking lot in Kahului. We are now temporary owners of a massive green GMC beast with all the amenities we need (minus a toilet) for the next 7 days roaming the island. Since Roger is a local, we’re able to camp for 2 nights at a secluded spot on an undeveloped part of the island called Waihee Coastal Dunes & Wetlands Refuge. It’s rustic & wild, with 3 random peacocks roaming the area.

21 December 2018

After swimming at Hanauma Bay, I quickly showered and jumped in a cab to meet Morgan, Josh & Benno at a pop up light show called Ward Light Garden. Little Benno danced his heart out, squealed with joy & rolled around in the grass to the amusement of everyone. Afterward Morgan & I headed out for dinner. Unfortunately I was too busy eating delicious sushi & drinking sake to take any pictures at this restaurant. But it was amazing! We had a feast of norittos (nachos made from fried seaweed chips), tuna sashimi, crazy over the top fully loaded calico sushi rolls, salmon roe, and unfiltered sweet house sake. It was a perfect end to the day.
After going on a morning hike & having lunch with Morgan & her family, I went back to the hostel to meet up with my parents. From there I quickly grabbed bathing suit & snorkel gear & hopped on a city bus heading to Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve. We arrived towards the end of the day but still had an hour to enjoy the stunning views & tranquil beach. The low water level, calm waves & vibrant coral reef make it one of the best beaches for swimming & snorkeling in the world. We were all in awe of such a beautiful location only 30 minutes outside of Honolulu via public transit.
Today was a great day! I was so happy to connect with Morgan, my friend from years ago in Florida. I met her adorable 1 1/2 year old son and we went for a quick hike in the Tantalus trails overlooking Honolulu & Diamond Head off in the in the distance. After the hike we went to Nico’s on Pier 38 for the best fresh fish, caught that morning & brought to shore by the boats docked right next to the restaurant.

20 December 2018

Waikiki Beach
Arrived at Pearl Harbor by 8am to get tickets to see the USS Arizona memorial by boat. Then headed over to the decommissioned battleship USS Missouri where the Japanese surrendered and ended WWII.

19 December 2018

Tasty lunch at the food truck area & then quick nap on the grass above Shark’s Cove. Then on to Waimea Bay, Laniakea Beach (aka turtle beach) and finally a beautiful sunset at Hale’iwa Ali’i Beach.
Walking the shoreline & bike path from Sunset Beach to Waimea Bay, with a stop for fish tacos at the food truck spot across from Shark’s Cove. 15-20 foot waves means no swimming for us today.
First stop on a day trip to the North Shore with a small group from the hostel - Dole Plantation. Super cheesy tourist trap. But the pineapple whip was delicious!

18 December 2018

Arrived in Honolulu just as the sun was setting. Found our hostel after a brief moment of confusion and settled into our private room a few blocks from the beach. We are exhausted from a long day of traveling, but still managed to stay awake long enough to enjoy pizza & wine on our outdoor patio table.
Quick stop in Seattle for an early lunch of delicious fish tacos & change of airplane. So fun to wander around this airport where we spotted Christmas carolers, Santa & an elf, someone dressed up as Rudolph & live local music around every corner. Next stop Hawaii!
First step of the journey to Hawaii. Stayed at a hotel in Schaumburg last night, where my parents can leave their car parked for the 17 days we’re gone. Now we fly to Seattle before heading to Honolulu.