From the Land to the Ocean to the Sky
Want to experience city life, the beaches, and a volcano all in one day? It’s totally possible in Maui, and was in fact what we did on our last full day on the island. We stopped by the Maui Tropical Plantation in Central Maui the day before; our destination for this day was Haleakala, a volcano that takes up more than 75 percent of the island and is a dream come true for those who love the great outdoors. (As long as I won’t encounter or be bitten by insects, I count myself among this group.) But first, breakfast!
The Gazebo Restaurant in Napili, which is literally a gazebo, ranks as one of the best places for brunch in Maui, according to the five-second research I did on Yelp. It explains why we waited for almost an hour and a half in the sun for a table. (Thankfully, the restaurant was humane enough to provide umbrellas for those in line.) Almost everyone raved about their breakfast fried rice. Having grown up in an Asian country, I am used to eating foods that would be considered weird for a morning meal in Western culture like pan-fried noodles and sticky rice rolls. But even I was taken aback when I read about this famed breakfast fried rice. Well, when in Rome…
Since our first day in Maui, I have fallen in love with coconut syrup, the Hawaiian equivalent of maple syrup. The white color threw me off at first. I was also never a big coconut fan (I would never go near an Almond Joy). But as soon as I took a bite of pancake with the syrup, I knew we were a match made in heaven. So besides the fried rice, I ordered some macadamia nut pancakes to go with my newfound love.
The verdict? We. Loved. Everything. I want to give a special shout-out to the staff at this restaurant because even though they were insanely busy (the line was about the same when we got there and when we left), they never rushed us. If you’re in Maui, you have to go to the Gazebo. Another wonderful thing about the restaurant is it’s located right next to Napili Beach, so you can stroll down to the beach after breakfast to admire the unique view there.
Let’s stop for a second to talk outfit. I went for a simple, layerable outfit for today since we were going on an outdoor adventure. I paired the dazzlin t-shirt from summer 2017 with some mercuryduo jeans from the same season. When I think outdoors, I think of sneakers. I took this opportunity to show off some cute gingham tutuanna socks from this year’s spring collection with my Adidas sneakers, a staple that should be in everyone’s wardrobe. Summer clothes stay largely similar year to year, and you can rejuvenate an old outfit with some new accessories. It’s a cheap and fun way to spice up an outfit you have already worn a couple of times.
Napili Beach, which contains a stretch of hardened lava, reminded us that Maui is indeed a volcanic island. The ragged surface of these “rocks” made it very difficult to walk. The various holes in these rocks are filled with sea water and marine life. We actually saw some pretty cool sea urchins! This beach is much less crowded compared with Kaanapali Beach, which I introduced in part two of this series.
Fueled up with food, we were ready to make our way to Haleakala. I was pretty excited about our adventure given that I had never seen a volcano before. Little did I know that the journey to Haleakala itself would be an adventure all in itself. I don’t drive, so my husband usually does all the driving and I do all the navigating (mostly, because sometimes I confuse left and right). The ride was close to two hours in total to get to the visitor’s center at Haleakala National Park, the first stop after entering the park. My eyes nearly popped out when we were 30 minutes away.
I could see into the abyss below as we climbed higher and higher. Whenever we made those hairpin turns, it felt like our car could just fly over the edge. I normally don’t get carsick, but that day I felt it, big time.
We were both worse for wear by the time we arrived at the visitor’s center at 7,000 feet. To my chagrin, the way to the summit would be another 30 minutes of those hairpin turns. We decided to take a break and poke around the visitor’s center, which displayed helpful information about the island, Haleakala, and the wildlife and plants found in this area.
I mentioned in an earlier post that I was impressed by the ubiquitous environmentalism on the island, from renewable energy to the ban on plastic bags to the general cleanliness of the island. It was here at Haleakala that I came to understand why Hawaiians care so much about protecting the environment. According to an information card we saw at the visitor’s center, Polynesian navigators who traversed the Pacific in canoes (an incredibly brave thing to do) introduced the concept of kuleana to malama aina, the responsibility to care for the land. The card ended with “We all share this kuleana and can respect the land by staying on trails, taking nothing, and leaving nothing behind.” This inspiring message would stay with me long after I’ve left the island.
After resting for a while, we felt human again and began our ascent to the summit of Haleakala. And how glad I was that we stuck it out! As we reached the top at 10,000 feet, the landscape quietly drastically changed from lush green land to a barren desert. The sandy and stony terrain plus the low, dry shrubs and cactus-shaped plants made that area resembled what Mars looks like. The observatory which looked like a space station completed the imagery.
I could feel how high up we were because we were standing among clouds. When the wind picked up, the clouds rushed towards and passed through us. The cloud cover cleared for a couple of minutes at one point, and we saw our far away we were even from the visitor’s center. My legs trembled a little, and I am not even acrophobic.
It truly felt like an accomplishment to have gone all the way up to the summit. Perhaps that’s why they offered certificates at the visitor’s center for those who conquered the carsickness and height to climb to the summit.
And with that, we have come to the end of my first Kawaii Life series. It was a lot of fun and refreshing to depart from my regular fashion-focused content. I hope you were able to learn a little about the beautiful island and got some ideas for what to pack for your next trip!