(except for the spills and thrills of trying to scuba dive and embarrassing
'Dont do this and you could die, do that and you could die, do this
like that and, well, you could die.'
from the crystal clear water crawling along the sand, desperate
to take off the heavy equipment, I felt physically exhausted and
emotionally exhilarated. I had just survived my first scuba dive
at Ulua Beach, a 10-minute drive away from where we were staying
in Kihei, on the Hawaiian Island of Maui. It was the finale of a
17-day holiday that had taken myself, my mum and sister and my best
friend Paul and his parent across three states of America.
After experiencing the thrills and spills of life in LA and doing all
the touristy things of going to Disneyland, Universal Studios and the
famed tour of the Hollywood Hills, as well as a whistle stop tour of the
glitz and glamour that is Las Vegas; staying in the Luxor Hotel, it was
a great to be able to relax and chill for a week.
It is a four-hour flight from LA to Honolulu where we spent the first
night of our Hawaii experience. A lively place reknown for the famous
Waikiki beach that I had to check out, along with the malls, whilst the
men went to Pearl Harbor, an experience Im told I should not have
Maui is more laid back and less commercial than the fashionable and extravagant
Honolulu in Oaho. Pulling on a wetsuit was about as energetic as it got
Diving is one of the most popular activities in Hawaii and I was persuaded
into getting up at 5am to give it a go. After the initial shock of realising
that 5actually had an am I was then in fear of the actual activity!
Paul and I sat perched on a log as our instructor Gerry went through the
basics highlighting the dangers, which did seem quite a lot! Dont
do this and you could die, do that and you could die, do this like that
and, well, you could die. Be under no illusion, it is a scary but Im
told a reassuringly safe activity.
Doubts crossed my mind even as I took that first breath under the water.
I guess I didnt take to it like a duck to water, spluttering away
as my head was immersed I did feel like I could, yep, youve guessed
it, DIE! If Paul had said there and then we didnt have to do any
more Id have been out of that water as quick as my little legs would
take me whilst carrying what felt like a rocket on my back. But he didnt
so we carried on. Time to do that thingy where it helps you sink down,
unfortunately, my body didnt want to sink to the bottom of the ocean
how clever and sensible of it. Yes I thought, no
more for me. But Gerry had other ideas and I was chained to several
weights that really did give me that sinking feeling. Relaxing into the
moment, and after calming down, it was a memorable experience. The area
is popular for snorkeling and diving with a varied marine life and it
was amazing, we even saw a turtle. For $110 (approx. £65), we had
the full attention of a PADI qualified instructor for the morning dive
and that included two tanks. I could quite easily have given up but it
is definitely an activity to try.
Exhausted and probably still in shock, we headed back to what was our
home for the next week - the Aston-Maui Banyan Resort in Kihei, named
after the Banyan tree. The three bed roomed three bathroom condominium,
overlooking Kamaole Beach Park, was a perfect base whether wanting a relaxing
holiday soaking in the sun or being more adventurous and exploring what
the island has to offer.
After a hard day doing nothing we took advantage of the BBQ area and cooked
up a feast! Paul and I left the parents to continue eating and guzzling
wine while we headed for the Jacuzzi and started making conversation with
another family there. Now I love the Americans, I love their lifestyle,
I love their accent and I love the way they have such a profound and serious
interest in us British folks! After listening to what their life was like
in Las Vegas it was pretty hard to make home back in England sound in
the least bit attractive, but even so, they were just as enthralled at
listening to us as we were to them. I was all ready to suggest we have
a big house swap when the mothers from hell come stumbling over, rather
loud and rather drunken.
It seems they were having a good old chat with an American family over
the BBQ, discussing his sprawling Malibu mansion that Brad Pitt had recently
visited filming a TV ad! Yes Mum, that is pretty amazing, but we were
trying to make polite talk and establish a bit of respect to these nice
people who had by now quickly escaped the Jacuzzi from the mad English.
Just how much had they had to drink? I have no idea but I do know that
they both felt very poorly the next day, Paul and I were brutally embarrassed
and scarred for the rest of holiday. Clearly there was no house swapping
in Las Vegas and my mum still wanders why Mr Rich never did keep in touch
like he said!
Anyway, apart from drunken embarrassing parents, Kihei is a natural vacation
spot with the ocean on one side and the lush green Haleakala on the other.
It is a growing area with over 100 condos, hotels, shopping complexes,
food stores and restaurants lining both sides of the Kihei Road. In spite
of its growth its still a fairly quiet area being popular with honeymooners
and families with perfect safe beaches that are lined with parks that
have facilities for volleyball, basketball, tennis and football, as well
as picnic areas.
Tearing myself away from the beach we ventured to Haleakala National Park.
It was here, according to Polynesian legend, that the demigod Maui captured
the sun and held it captive to give his people more daylight hours. Haleakalas
last eruption was more than 200 years ago. A public observatory stands
on the rim of the volcanos crater, giving amazing views over the
No trip to Hawaii would be complete without experiencing a bit of Polynesian
culture Luau style. On arrival at nearby Outrigger Wailea Resort we were
lavished with flowers and leis in the beachfront setting. It was
a chance to taste some traditional Hawaiian cuisine, including the more,
erm, unusual, specialities of baked Mahi Mahi, Lomi Lomi salmon (salmon
bits with tomatoes and onions) and sweet potato milk. Dancing was the
main form of entertainment with Otea telling the story of early
migration of Polynesians to the new islands of Hawaii,
to the dance of Auana; the modern hula influenced by immigrants
and tourism. It was now my turn to embarrass the family as I was whisked
away up stage to be shown some basic dance movements an event that
was unfortunately captured on video camera!
As the sun set, food and drink abundant our attention was drawn to the
ocean as a whale and its mate decided to entertain us, their relaxed,
carefree attitude felt by every guest and a reason why guests return year
after year to Hawaii.
© Gemma Quinn 2002
Gemma is a journalism student at University of Lincoln
More vacation journeys in HACKTREKS
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