By Jordan Heide
The supple white sand caressed my bare feet as I approached the turquoise sea, vast in size and beauty. The sun beat down on my pale skin while a soft breeze whisked through my weather-torn hair. I placed one foot in the water, pleasantly surprised by its warmth. Captivated by the allure of the ocean, I knelt down and grazed the water with my hand, following the soft ripples I created as they slowly drifted away and dissipated into the immense sea. There was nothing I didn’t like about this moment. I closed my eyes and let myself be consumed by the tranquil atmosphere; I was immune to external stimulation, enveloped in the placidity of the environment. Small waves crashed against rocks in a rhythmic manner, giving life to the calm ocean. I breathed deeply, exonerating myself of stress and anxiety. This must be bliss, I thought.
Indeed, many have referred to it as the incarnation of bliss; however, it’s more commonly known as the island of Maui, one of five belonging to the state of Hawaii. Known for its picturesque scenery and care-free culture, it’s no wonder that Maui attracts close to 2.7 million tourists each year.
I spent the majority of my vacation soaking up the rays on the banks of Napili shores, located in the Northwestern corner of the island. It was secluded enough that the beaches offered ample room for lounging, but not so isolated that I felt as if I were the only occupant on the island. I was able to interact with locals and tourists alike, all who possessed the same glazed-over look, indicating that they had been indoctrinated by the same serene environment as I.
My favorite activity to partake in while on the island was snorkeling. The sea was incessantly scattered with awestruck tourists face down in the water, observing the majestic aquatic life that resided under the surface. I never grew tired of studying these foreign creatures; I watched with glee as a mother sea turtle carried her two infants upon her sturdy shell in search for nourishment. It seemed each critter I laid my eyes upon was adorned in brilliant, vivid colors, exuding a myriad of pigments I had never encountered before.
The local cuisine was as equally heavenly as the scenery. A particular favorite of mine was the macadamia pancake; a featured specialty of the island, the pancake is a luxurious culmination of Maui’s globally renowned macadamia crop imbedded within a buttery soft flapjack and doused in maple syrup. The contradictory textures of nuts and dough made for an exciting and tasty oral adventure.
Maui comes alive in the nighttime, with luaus and barbeques in abundance. You can’t travel more than a hundred feet without hearing the familiar hymn of ukuleles or smelling the enticing aroma of Mahi Mahi grilling in the distance. As Rupert Holmes notoriously inquired, “If you like Piña Coladas,” then luaus are your haven; the cocktail is served with bottomless refills (a perk certainly worth exploiting).
Parasailing is a must when visiting Maui. Soaring 800 feet above the glistening ocean will leave you breathless, and it only costs $75 for a 10-15 minute ride. From fifty stories high, you can be one with the rolling green hills and snow-topped peaks. A note to my fellow pale-skinned: Make sure to wear your sun screen, otherwise you might be surprised with a rather unpleasant burn.
The vibrancy of the tropical island is manifest in its horticultural magnificence. The Maui Nui Botanical Gardens offer a visual brilliance that simply cannot be matched. Iridescent Hibiscus and Plumeria flowers radiate a lustrous hue reminiscent of a rainbow; the sight is positively paradisiacal. Most fascinating is the fact that the garden possesses close to 1,000 indigenous species, none of which can be seen anywhere else in the world; it truly is a one-in-a-million opportunity to peruse Maui’s botanical collection.
Maui is also home to the Seven Sacred Pools, which are a series of waterfalls and small ravines located on the Southeastern corner of the island. The beauty of the scene is profoundly awe-inspiring; the water illuminates the reflection of the sun, emitting an incandescent orange-like glow. Cliff-jumping is an option for those willing to accept in the risk; it’s quite the adrenaline rush and a perfect afternoon outing for the adventurous soul. Yet, just simply viewing the scene will leave you content- feel no need to fling yourself off the edge of an enlarged rock to get your kicks in.
While in Maui, I partook in whale watching. The experience was simply astounding; I saw humpback whales leap above the ocean with the grace of a ballerina and reenter the water with the subtly of a champion diver. Most humpbacks that occupy the seas of Maui are approximately fifty feet in length and close to 80,000 pounds; one certainly feels dwarfed in comparison. The majestic and enigmatic beauty of the whales is profoundly remarkable; I had never witnessed the existence of such a paradoxical mammal- one that is immense yet elegant, intimidating yet inviting.
Horseback riding along the sandy shores of Lahaina is a fitting activity for the romantically inclined. Fixed against the backdrop of a pink-infused sunset, one may feel as though he or she was projected straight into the set of a movie. The view is absolutely spectacular, emanating shades of rose, tangerine, and copper in a magnificent storm of color; to say that it is entrancing would be insulting to the intensity of its allure.
Maui offers all the accommodations of the quintessential tropical getaway but is unique in its divine scenery and variety of available activities (not to mention its close proximity to the continental United States), making it conducive to an assortment of travelers. The landscape flourishes with luscious horticulture, supple fruits, and extraordinary marine life. One simply cannot go wrong by indulging in Maui’s magnificent culture.