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Just Get Me to Maui, Hawaii!

Author: Suzanne S.
Date of Trip: June 2006

My husband, teenage son and I flew out of LAX on a warm June afternoon. Visions of clean sandy beaches and cool drinks on the lanai in our heads. The flight, crammed to capacity, was running late. We squeezed into the seating provided, and watched as parents with toddlers filled the remaining seats — screaming kids on their laps for 5+ hours to Honolulu. It reminded me of a scene from some third world country. Only things missing were a crate full of chickens and a roaming pig.

Food? What’s that? The poor quality snack box and inedible sandwich would send the food police into fits. Beverage service? Surly at best. My son had to beg for a glass of water at the mid-point of the flight.

The seats we were assigned were lacking air vents above. Not sure I have ever seen this on any flight since the beginning of my travels. Needless to say, we were roasting. At one point the attendant walked by and said, “It’s hot in here.” My husband pointed at the lack of vents and said, “Ya think?!”

We were never so glad to be off of a flight!

The inter-island flight on Hawaiian Air was a pleasure. Clean seats, fresh fruit drinks within minutes of take off and big smiles from the crew. Finally some Aloha spirit!

Maui

Our stay was a fun mix of relaxation and adventure.

My husband, an avid diver, experienced the Shark Dive at The Maui Ocean Center. The knowledgeable dive master explained that he would be diving with hammerheads, reef sharks and one very big tiger shark. My son and I viewed the entire dive from the safety of the “Acrylic Tunnel” and viewing room. It was an awesome experience. And yes, the divers are actually in an open tank with lots of sharks. This is no cage dive!

Another excellent adventure was the drive around the north end of the island. This is a more harrowing drive than the Hana Hwy. Be warned to allow for rural driving rules, and yield on those unmarked one lane roads. We came around a blind turn to find three vans full of tourists in a panic. They had not allowed enough space, and found themselves stuck on a narrow cliffside one lane with oncoming traffic. No where to go?? Try backing up at a snails pace for 1/4 mile until you can allow the oncoming traffic to pass. While it is not a drive for the anxiety ridden, the scenery and banana bread found on this route make it a must do at least once.

One of the best experiences we have had on any visit to Hawaii was the catamaran sail to Lanai. Trilogy out of Lahaina is an amazing 60 ft. cat with a friendly crew and captain. We left port and began our earlymorning trip with fresh Kona coffee and cinnamon rolls. As we arrived in Lanai, we were met by pods of spinner dolphins. The “ohhs” and “ahhs” and laughter of everyone on board set the pace for what would be a great day on a unique island.

We were treated to a personal tour by a wonderful local named Mypuwana. She could trace her heritage back to the original Hawaiians. Her father was one of 15 kids born to parents who were also native Hawaiians on the Island, and reveled at showing us the hickory split rail fences that her dad and uncles had placed years ago. There were miles of them. As we traveled the long main road into the former pineapple growing region, we saw wild turkeys and pheasants flying up from the grass. We were delighted to see a small herd of axis deer as well.

We returned to the beautiful beach and relaxed with diving and snorkeling. We even hada tasty lunch cooked by the captain herself!

Returning in the afternoon to Lahaina , we arrived in time for happy hour and artist’s night at the local galleries. That’s always a fun event!

We stayed at the Kuleana Villas near Kahana in a nice low rise condo in a busy section of Maui, but not so crowded that it was a hassle. We were close enough to walk to some nice restaurants, pretty parks and beaches.

One gem of a find was the Okazuyo Deli, located in a tiny strip mall near the villas. The best take out on Maui!! Of course, it doesn’t hurt that the head cook is a former chef of Momma’s Fish House! And, yes, Momma’s Fish House is a must at least once per visit.

We had many lazy perfect days on the beach, as well as a fun day trip to Upcountry to see the Surfing Goat dairy. Great fun for kids and even better cheese for that evening glass of wine at sunset!

Regretfully, we knew our stay in paradise would have to end.

We tried to brace ourselves for the return flight on AA. We found a good restaurant and ate before we flew, brought a water bottle for thirst and a good book for entertainment.

Couldn’t believe the return flight could be worse! Twice as many babies on board and now our teenage son had a mom with toddler on lap next to him. And my husband and I had one behind us. I love kids, but this was a disaster in the making. As I went to seat myself, I felt little fingers grab my hair and…yank! I asked the Mom if this was going to happen all the way to LA. No, “I’m sorry,” just a blank stare. As the flight took off, I prayed for the kids to calm down and soon they did.

The in-flight entertainment was to be the “Pink Panther.” Okay, some mindless humor. The DVD promptly scrambled and after 3 retries was dumped, for yep, you bet, the same lame film we watched on the trip over. Some mindless teenage mermaid flick. Tried reading, and then just gave up and slept. My husband, who is a patient man, looked at me at the midway point of this return flight and said, “I am so over this flight!”

Finally, the lights of LA could be seen. LAX never looked so good.

We will return to Hawaii again next year, as we do every year. I will definitely bring a sense of humor, but at this point, I think rowing in the boughs of a slave ship would be better than American Airlines.

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