Maui Dreams—Swimming in a Winter Wonderland
Even though I’m fourth-generation in the Pacific Northwest “4th Corner,” I get grumpy with the cold gray drizzle by December. Thor, from sunnier climes, experienced a weather meltdown in November and booked us a Winter Solstice vacation on Maui. So, up late the night before our flight finishing grading student creative-writing portfolios, I surrendered to Maui Dreams. Christmas with my extended family could wait until our return.
Maui Dreams: 1. Our favorite dive shop on Maui. 2. Our vacation drink: Throw into a blender your desired proportions of pineapple juice, coconut syrup, local mango ice cream (not sorbet), rum, squeeze of lime, and ice. Whirl into a froth and consume, preferably on a lanai looking over the blue Pacific Ocean.
On arrival, we jumped in our rental car and drove to our favorite beach in Makena Park near Wailea, where every Sunday evening those who feel the call of the wild assemble for drumming, dancing, fire-dancing, hula-hooping, surfing, or whatever rings your holiday chimes. This year Sunday fell on the Winter Solstice, so it was an especially primal celebration. If you’d like to see a brief video, check out this YouTube link: http://youtu.be/egSUBhcOTU0
The fire dancers and propane cannon came later that evening… But first on the video you’ll see a bit of me snorkeling with a puffer fish and a large sea turtle, through the shimmering clear shallows along the lava and coral reefs. We love the turtles, who are very mellow and unperturbed by respectful divers. If you listen carefully to the video as the turtle swims, you can hear the calls of humpback whales swimming offshore. This year, as we sat on the beach in front of our rented condo watching the sunset, we were treated to the sight of a humpback repeatedly surfacing close in to slap its long front fins on the surface. (Sorry, no photo of that one.) And we got to swim this year with a large manta ray, who circled around us several times as we snorkeled along a reef.
Options for a sunburn day or if you ever get tired of the beach: Drive around the famous Hana Highway on the rainforest side of the island. Too many waterfalls to count, black lava-sand beaches, the quaint oldest general store on the island, and so many amazing vistas your camera will get tired.
Or make the twisty drive up to the top of Haleakala mountain and hike into the volcanic crater, like walking on a strange planet with little growing but the unique silver-sword plants.
Wailea resort area is a bit too swanky and crowded for us, but in the evening a stroll among the gracefully spreading trees wrapped with thousands of tiny white lights is a magical experience.
However long we stay, it never seems quite long enough to bask in the luxury of winter sunshine, play in the waves, and soak in the clear waters shimmering with light. So we make a promise to return next year, and seal it with a kiss. Mahalo, sweet Maui! And happy New Year, everyone.