America’s Magic Isle: Maui, Hawaii

After coming across this article on how to live like a local in Hawaii, I decided it was time to write my Hawaii post, even though recalling all of my memories from there makes me miss it more and more! Maui is one of those places where I always dreamed of going, and finally had a chance to during the summer of 2011. Let’s back things up a bit, I got my palms read about a year before we went, and the psychic told me so many things that came true, one of them being she saw me going to Hawaii around that time next year. I thought: yeah, right. Hawaii. OK. And then my father found out one of his Toyota dealerships won an incentive trip through Toyota, and away we went!

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Maui was beyond picture perfect. It truly was paradise, and I literally miss it every single day. Everyone there was friendly, probably because the weather never got below the 70’s, and was never muggy or humid, and an agreeable mid-80’s. Not only was the weather perfect, but it really was just something in the air in Maui. Everyone was content with what they had, no one was trying to “keep up with the Joneses,” and they all just appreciate what they have.

Me in our Rental Jeep
Me in our Rental Jeep

Our flight there wasn’t as bad as a 12 hour flight from NY to Maui seems like it would be. It was broken up quite nicely, which made each leg bearable. We went from Syracuse, NY, to Charlotte, NC, and had a 45 minute layover to stretch out legs. Charlotte is also my favorite airport to have a layover in. They have the best restaurants, and I love the rocking chairs! We then flew to Phoenix, AZ with a 30 minute layover, and then from Phoenix to Maui. Breaking up a large trip like that (when possible) helped me a lot, especially with my nerves! I was very nervous hearing that it’s a 12 hour trip, but breaking it up gave me time to relax in between!

Image Courtesy of: http://www.news.com.au/travel/world/destination/getting-there/hawaii
Image Courtesy of: http://www.news.com.au/travel/world/destination/getting-there/hawaii

We landed in Paradise at 6pm Maui time, to be greeted with leis (yep, they really do that in the airports!) and found our transportation to the beyond marvelous, beautiful, breath-taking, and fabulous Four Seasons Hotel. I can’t say enough about the Four Seasons and how beautiful it was, and how accommodating and friendly the staff was. After we checked in to our respective rooms, we mingled with some other Toytoa dealers who won the Best Service contest (the contest was for Toyota dealers all across the U.S. Toyota chose one dealer from each region who, as a result of customer surveys, visits from the Toyota reps, and overall service, who had exceptional customer service as well as service in the service/mechanical department.)

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After only a few minutes, we exhaustedly headed back to our rooms to get ready for bed…yes, at 8pm! I woke up the next morning bright and early (7:30am is very bright and very early for me) refreshed and ready to go. After a delicious breakfast at Spago, courtesy of Toyota, I wanted to stretch my legs out. Since it was our first day, there weren’t any planned excursions except for dinner later, and I didn’t want to sit in the sun all day long (as fabulous as it sounds, I’ve had some cancerous moles removed, so I try to limit my sun intake!) so I decided to check out the open-air gym. It’s as wonderful as it sounds. I was able to take a jog on the treadmill while under a roof for shade, but with everything else open, and a view of the ocean.

The Four Seasons Maui
The Four Seasons Maui

I rinsed off and headed down to the cabanas where my family was. We walked along the beach, took a dip in the ocean and pool, and just relaxed on our lounge chairs. Now, when I said the staff at the Four Seasons was accommodating, I meant it. Every now and then, not only would pool boys/girls come around for drink or snack orders, but they would pass around lemon ices, rice krispie treats, or flavor-ice popsicles. Amazing!

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Later that day, we had a group dinner with all of the dealers at the Maui Ocean Center and Aquarium. It was a beautiful night, and the tables were set up to overlook the ocean. We were also allowed free admission into the aquarium, as well as a show with a diver who swam with sharks and sting rays like it was nothing! After we toured the gift shop, we all headed back to the hotel.

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The next day was when the activities started. My brother and father went kayaking with tortoises (I mean actual tortoises, not people who moved really slow,) while my mom and I chose massages and facials in the most relaxing spa I’ve ever been in. We were free to do our own thing that night, so we chose to grab some dinner at one of the hotels next door, at their restaurant that was entirely on the water. Literally. You have to walk on a bridge over to the restaurant! The restaurant was named after Hawaii’s state fish, Humuhumunukunukuapua’a. Say it ten times fast, I dare you. As it was named after their state fish, and located on the water, it of course had fantastic seafood. After that, we went back to relax in the game room at our hotel and played a few rounds of shuffle board, as well as guitar hero with my brother.

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My favorite memories of Maui would just be how relaxed I was there. I have literally never ever ever (getting back together…oh wait, wrong topic,) been that relaxed in my life before. I’m telling you, there was something in the air there (I’m not referring to anything illegal, either.) At night or in the early evenings, I would sit on my balcony, listen to the ocean, and read a book. That’s exactly what heaven feels like.

Reading & Relaxing on the Balcony
Reading & Relaxing on the Balcony

The next morning, my brother and my father tried surfing as another Toyota excursion. Unfortunately, too many knee injuries have left me incapable of even attempting something like this, but it was fun to explore the island a little bit more and go to different shops. Later that day, we rented a Jeep and drove alllll the way up, up, up the Road to Hana, to the Haleakala Volcano. Be careful if you do this, because I got hit with some altitude sickness and almost threw up during the car ride up! The volcano is amazing, and you literally are higher than the clouds up there. Naturally, if you go anywhere in Hawaii, I would of course recommend you see a volcano. The volcano is in Upcountry Maui, located near a town called Makawao, which is somewhere where I would absolutely live. Makawao is filled with small, locally owned shops, and is a little “hippie-ish” if you will.

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We had lunch in a cute, locally owned cafe, and explored the town some more. I found a beautiful bracelet that I still wear today and think of Makawao in one of the locally owned home and apparel stores. That night, we got some sushi at Sensei. The sushi was superb, but the freaking Macadamia Nut Fried Ice Cream dessert is something that makes my mouth water over a year and a half later. Oh my god. I just have no words for how delectable that was. Please get some if you find yourself anywhere that sells it!

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And now, for my favorite part of our trip: ZIPLINING at Skyline Eco Adventures. Please, wherever you readers are, go find yourself the nearest zipline opportunity and take it! If my mother can do it, I promise you all can. Of course, since I’m all about being eco-friendly, this company prides itself on it’s eco-friendliness, and also gives you a little educational lesson on the wildlife and animals that live in each course you are ziplining. It’s an incredible adrenaline rush, and will give you the best views of wherever you are that you will never see in your life. Ziplining, for those who are wondering what that is, is this: you get strapped into a harness, hike up some mountains/cliffs, go through some obstacles like shaky-wooden bridges, tree climbing, and trying to make your way over a net, all of which is located hundreds of feet above ground. The best course is always the last, which was over a giant waterfall. I’m not kidding. It. Was. AWESOME.

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Me and my Favorite Zipline Instructor, Sean :)
Me and my Favorite Zipline Instructor, Sean 🙂

Later that night was most of the dealers’ last night. My family extended our trip by two days because five days after a 12 hour flight wasn’t enough. To be honest, seven days wasn’t enough, I should have signed a lease! Toyota hosted a spectacular luau, complete with children and adult hula dancers, fire dancers, and a great performance by one of Hawaii’s favorite local bands. They also provided a photo booth, as you can see below, that one of the friends I made while on the trip and I took full advantage of.

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The next day we spent lounging by the beach, since we all had a pretty active few days, and wanted to enjoy some quiet time. After a million hours in the sun, (most of mine spent under the cabana) we headed over to outdoor mall, The Shops at Wailea, for some shopping. We had dinner at a Ruth’s Chris’ Steahouse, and ended up stumbling onto a concert in the middle of the mall afterwards. We enjoyed some authentic Hawaiian music, which was so perfect, and finally headed back.

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Finally, after another day of relaxing, we had to leave. Luckily, we had a red-eye flight, so we had the entire day to lounge around, and explore the island a little bit more. We rented mopeds, which was a lot scarier than I thought! My mom and I hopped off of them after a half an hour, while my brother and father continued to fool around on them. My mom and I walked to a bazaar in Kihei, which was the coolest thing ever. The bazaar looked small from the outside, but once you got inside, it was incredibly long and lined and zig-zagged with stand after stand of hand-made things like coasters, to jewelry, to those awesome carved wooden masks! I bought coasters for my apartment and a beautiful magenta leather bracelet, while my brother bought a wooden mask for his apartment.

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After a quick lunch, we said our goodbyes to the hotel staff that we grew to know and (seriously) love, and hopped into a car that took us to the airport, and away we went. I swear, getting on that plane was the hardest thing ever, and once we landed in Phoenix (at 6am,) a deep depression started to kick in. I love Maui, and hope that I will one day be able to get back there. Everything about it was just absolutely perfect, and I couldn’t have asked for a better experience. I’m beyond grateful that we got to take this trip, and hope that you all get to visit Hawaii one day, too.

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