This is part two of my blog posting on our trip to Maui. The first part can be found here
It says something about this enchanting island that after 4 days we hadn’t partaken on a ‘beach day’ yet; added to Han’s need for surf, sea and sand, this was doubly surprising. However, in a sun soaked snorkel swimming way, her wait was soon to be over.
We had reconnaissanced the original debaucherous whale hunting turned touristy town of Laihana the previous evening, so wasted no time on our 5th day as we found ourselves walking in the early hours to the main beach strip a couple of kilometres away laden with the beach necessities; towels, frisbees, books, sun tan lotion, snorkel gear, snack food, juggling balls and a hope of swimming with turtles.
We had heard a rumour that turtles prefer the early morning for their leisurely eating from the sea floor greenery (presumably they’re hungry after a good nights sleep), and so it was only a mere 5 minutes of setting the towels out in regimented British fashion that Han announced it was snorkelling time.
I tried to warn Han that we should snorkel for the sights of the wonderful pacific fish and a sighting of a turtle would be a bonus, but I could tell she harvested ideas that turtles would come to her with gifts of exotic fruit and a pennant for conversation, and so it was after try one I could sense an emotion of disappointment that the turtles had not turned up to welcome us to their underwater domain.
However we didn’t have to wait long, and a few hours later in the 75-80 degree Hawaiian heat on another reconnaissance mission, we finally swam with a turtle we named Timmy who was, in Hannah’s own words ‘just chilling. It was just the two of us chilling out together’. I breathed a sigh of relief and felt a weight lift of my shoulders as Han’s mood perceivably brightened up to one of a 5 year old that realised Christmas had just come early.
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And just like England’s busses, you wait for one then three come at once. Indeed over the next 3-4 hours, in fact over the next 2-3 days, every time we went snorkelling turtles were abound, relaxingly swimming by tourists and locals alike as they lazily searched for the elusive green seaweed that seems to be their main diet. Being so close to such large creatures (the turtles here average 1m in length and weigh around 115kg) that are so indifferent to the human presence carries with it something quite spell bounding. Growing up where wild animals have a natural instinct to run away from human closeness, and then being allowed to be so near to them here, really captivates and entrances you as they allowed us to be part of their day for a small amount of their long and elusive lives.
Along with the turtles we also got to experience an auditory feast while we snorkelled and swam off the pacific coast. Whales singing. Such was the abundance of whales so close to the shore (we viewed many splashing their tales, breaching and using their blow holes, while we were simply reading our book on the beach), and such is the potency of sound to travel through water, that as we stuck our heads under the water we could hear the music of these immense creatures as they sang to one another, delivering the enchanting notes that bring with them a sense of calmness and relaxation.
The next couple of days ambled along in the same vein, as we found ourselves taking some well earned beach time while being happily distracted by whale sightings off the coast, and turtle time in the ocean.
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As well as the glorious foot burning beaches we also had time to explore the small town of Laihana and marvel at the continents largest Bayan Tree. Not knowing much about this visually-alien tree, I was surprised to learn that it had aerial roots, meaning that the main branches it produces grow and spurt off new branches that search towards the ground. These branches, when reaching the floor, take root and grow themselves to large intermingled trunks. The final visual spectacle is, at first glance, tens of trees all intermingled, but after closer examination you see that it is actually just one giant, multiple trunked tree. The twisting, turning low hanging branches, all intermingled, coming off at strange angles had me entranced for quite some time as I tried to follow and discern some pattern in its wanderings.
Beyond the bird chattering Bayan Tree, Laihana’s main drag was a quaint, pleasing, small-shopped tourist town, where ice creams, Hawaiian t-shirts, board shorts, surfer gear and coastal art were in abundance. Apart from an attempt at a few historical junctures the town doesn’t have much sight-seeing fair though, and we were happy enough to not have to wander in search of a monument or historical notable building in the burning midday sun.
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One notable story of Laihana though did interest me, and gives a small preview to its history and evolution. Early in the 19th century the then mayor got converted to Catholicism from the British missionaries who were traipsing around the Pacific at the time, and banned alcohol and prostitution from this prolific whale hunting mecca (indeed whale hunting was the number one industry in Laihana until around 1860 when sugar cane took over, being replaced by Tourism recently in the 1970’s). Not happy at returning from months at sea and wanting a ‘good time’ tensions were high between the sailors and the government at the time, and when a captain allowed women on-board his ship one evening the mayor took the executive decision and arrested him. Not happy at this the sailors of his vessel decided to open fire upon the prison building. The captain was returned, and shortly after, when the mayor resigned, the worlds number one profession and alcohol were restored to their usual business.
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But history aside, our holiday ambled along nicely for our final few days. We topped up our tans, relaxed, caught up on sleep, sipped Mai Tais and Pina Coladas overlooking the Pacific Ocean and found ourselves subconsciously re-enacting ‘wish you were here’ style magazine photos. Unfortunately our time on the island had to come to an end, and so it was on the last night, as we cooked steaks at sunset at our condo, making our way through the final few beers (and congratulating myself at putting on my final pair of clean boxers on the final evening), that we viewed our last few turtles and said goodbye to this wonderful island.
Maui had proved to be a visual and sight seeing feast, one that we’ll both look back on with great memories. We enjoyed our split-personality break, the first being an energetic blend of sight seeing, driving, early mornings and backpacker energy, the second being the beach combing, Mai Tai sipping, wildlife spotting rest that I had originally envisioned when we first played with the idea of this getaway. I’d love to come back to Hawai’I and see what the other islands have to offer, if they’re anything akin to Maui, then they’re high up on my wish list.
The photos shown here are a small subset from our fantastic holiday. To view the full gallery visit out Maui set on Flickr here