Last summer I participated in a 33 day Environmental Science trip along with 59 other students in four islands of Hawaii. It was the best experience of my life and I can't begin to describe it in 600 words, so to give you a snapshot I'll describe my experience at one of the islands, my personal favorite Maui.
On June 20th, 2010 we arrived in Kahului, Maui. We ate lunch in Paia, definitely topping my list of one of my favorite cities on the planet. The atmosphere was so relaxed and welcoming and we had lunch a beautiful cafe called Cafe Mambo. While in this part of Maui we stayed at the Keane YMCA. Not the nicest dorms.. but they definitely facilitated team bonding with the community showers and community bedrooms. But to make up for the lack of hot water and air conditioning, the place had amazing views and tons of beautiful fields for playing volleyball and relaxing. While at the YMCA we hosted our own luau with a talent show, helped the taro farmers pull weeds (which turned into a mud fight ) and hung with the locals who they taught us how to cliff jump at the Keane Arboretum.
Next we departed for Hana, we traversed the sometimes treacherous Hana Highway but all made it in one piece. While in Hana the group split up into three rentals, some of us were at Jo’s Place, Some at the Aloha Cabins and some (including me) at the Hana House. Again, nothing luxurious but these had comfy beds and kitchenettes meaning we didn't have to spend a fortune eating out and we could cook our own food! My favorite part about staying in Hana was Wainapanapa beach, it was an incredible pebble beach with UNDERWATER CAVE TUBING! This is both the scariest and most amazing thing I've ever done. We waded into cold fresh water into a cave and followed the locals through “birth canal” sized tunnels. It was so invigorating!!
After Hana, we took a long van ride to Lahina, where we stayed in the ultra luxurious Pioneer Inn. It was located right in the middle of downtown Lahina and was so accommodating for us. As a group of 60, many hotels became overwhelmed by us but they kept a cool head. In Lahaina we took an cruise with the Pacific Whale Foundation that took us snorkeling in Lanai. Lanai had such beautiful reefs and on the boat ride out we saw SO many dolphins. That Saturday, we awoke at 2:30 am to muddle into vans to drive up to the top of Haleakala. The most impeccable sunrise any of us had ever seen. I would never trade that experience for anything. At Haleakala we also did a very difficult but very rewarding 11 mile hike! The Maui Ocean Center was our last stop in Maui and the most educational of all of the aquariums we went to in Hawaii.
With three islands I left out of my blog, and all the side stories left out, I could have written 12 times this much, but I hope more than anything that this gave you a decent snapshot of the best summer of my life. I recommend this trip and all the things accompanying it to anyone and everyone. If you're ever in Maui, please, keep my suggestions in mind. Find the 11 mile Haleakala Trail, find Cafe Mambo, find the Keane YMCA and most of all find Wainapanapa and try the cave tubing! Go out and explore the magic, beauty and enchantment of the Hawaiian Islands.
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