Hello, Mr Sunshine?
I arrived in Maui, Hawaii in America expecting warming sunshine rays to envelop me but instead I was hit with buckets of rain, then fierce tunnels of wind, then more rain. Living life on the move isn't always going to go as planned, especially when Mother Nature is involved. But when you're travelling, you soldier on and take situation by the horns – a little rain and wind shouldn't dampen your experiences on the road, in fact, you could end up having a really unique experience and an interesting story to tell. In the end, it wasn't all doom and gloom, but a memorable, albeit wet, stay.
'It can't always be sunshine and unicorns' I thought to myself (as I secretly wished a unicorn would appear one day). I arrived at my hostel around midday after some luck in getting onto an earlier flight from Waikiki and I hadn't really planned anything for the day – I like to arrive at a place and take my time soaking in the surroundings before booking anything (unless it's a place I'm going to specifically for something). I grabbed out my waterproof jacket and went for an adventure. I quickly discovered that my hostel was pretty much in the ghetto as I feared for my life walking into the main strip to find some lunch. Derelict surroundings and rubbish strewn along the sides of the roads were inescapable. Sometimes a place isn't exactly as advertised as it is in the brochure. I was hoping for lush green forest on endless rolling hills surrounded by deep blue ocean. I also found out that buses are not as abundant as they are in Waikiki so it made getting around not as easy. Traveller tip: I think you need to hire a car in Maui to get the best out of the island. The beaches are a fair distance away from the main strip in town and it's quite hilly so it's a bit tougher to walk or bicycle around. I suppose anything can be an adventure if you're committed enough though!
Searching for Turtles
I booked myself onto a boating and snorkelling trip for Molokini Crater and Turtle Town for the next day. The crater is a beautiful crescent shape with an abundance of sea life. I wanted to get amongst the salty ocean surrounding the 150-thousand year old volcano and swim with the marine animals. Friends of mine had recommended snorkelling around the area to swim with the turtles in the aptly named Turtle Town. The weather was looking decent in the morning, not exactly fantastic, but I was hopeful that it would clear up as we approached the docking area. As we cruised along in the boat heading towards Molokini, the weather was wickedly wild. The strong winds battered our boat, splashing high walls of water onto the decks. Everyone moved inside the cabin, awaiting further updates to our trip and I was holding onto my stomach trying to not throw up my breakfast. We were very close to the volcano area until the Captain decided to turn the boat around. It was all for the best, I was bummed but I preferred to be safe. Day 2 on Maui ended with me having lunch at a Dennys Restaurant with a fellow Australian traveller who was my roommate. The only upside to not swimming around with cute turtles all day was that I was given time to do my washing. As we all know, it doesn't wash it self – especially when you're travelling!
On day 3 and I begged the universe for the weather to clear up. I signed up for a hike through the Haleakala National Park which is basically a huge and officially still active volcano. Hiking a volcano was definitely an item on the bucket list – it is as fun as it is crazy. The Haleakala Volcano hike really punishes you. Well, me at least. It was a 6 hour, 19 kilometre hike through valleys and craters in the volcano. Firstly, you start off at 10,000ft and at that altitude, it is bloody cold. But the scenery is just breathtaking. I felt like I was on a whole new planet. I learned that scenes for the landscape on Mars in many science fiction movies are filmed here. It was an eerie extraterrestrial dreamscape with the beginning of the hike being vast stretches of red dirt and boulders. This turned into dessert-like landscapes with strange dry plants dotted everywhere. Then came forest-like surroundings.
The first two thirds of the hike were relatively easy; mostly downhill or straight and narrow. The national park has various wooden cabins which people can rent that sleep up to 12 persons which I thought was pretty cool. We stopped at one to check out the digs and take a break. The weather during the hike was temperamental. Because we were so high up in the clouds at one point, it was windy and then it would sprinkle a bit and then a lot. As we moved on, it would quickly become dry and hot. And repeat cycle. The conditions did not help much when we arrived at the last third of the hike, the switchbacks. If you can imagine a couple of rocky, wet and muddy pyramids where you criss-cross up and around them at a 45 degree angle for 2+ hours – those are the switchbacks. I was sure I was on the brink of death or something. I kept trying to tell myself that it was training for Machu Picchu in Peru which I was going to conquer in a few days. At the end of the hike, we drove the van up a little higher on the volcano in time to witness an absolutely beautiful sunset. Some people believe all sunsets are the same, but not me. Each sunset fills my heart with a new memory or thought. It The hike was punishing but it was also rewarding. The stunningly beautiful sunset made the hike and the last few days on Maui all totally worth it.