Moon Staff Blog
About this blog
The Moon Water Cooler is a place for Moon staffers to share what's new in their world. Check back often to hear about author events, book releases, travel trends, and maybe even some staff recommendations for what part of the world to explore next.
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- The Glory, the Groundwork, and the Grind of Travel Writing
- Finding Pizza Nirvana in Nashville
- Guest Interview: Exploring Offbeat Mexico with Churpa Rogers
- Guest Interview: The People's Guide to Mexico Authors Carl Franz and Lorena Havens
- Guest Post: Top 10 Gifts for Road Trippers
- Hawaii Giveaway Winner Announced
- Win a Round-Trip Ticket to Hawaii from Moon and Hawaiian Airlines!
- Why Moving to Belize Isn’t as Hard as You’d Think
- From Dosas to Dumplings: My Eight Favorite Toronto Restaurants
- Guest Post: At Least We Have Pizza – The Cost of Living in Mexico vs. New York City
- Hawai'i: A Foodie Paradise — Part Two
- Hawai'i: A Foodie Paradise — Part One
- Exploring California via Road Trip with Moon California Road Trip
- Enjoying the Outdoors in the Black Hills of South Dakota
Moonrise Over Magical Maui
By Eva Zimmerman
We’re still not sure exactly how we ended up picking Maui as our vacation destination. Looking back, it feels almost like it picked us.
Thanksgiving weekend, it was decided: We are booking a proper vacation. No less than 10 days. And I wanted to have to get on an airplane to get there. My boyfriend, Noah, had just finished a big move for his business, Dr. Shen’s, and we were both ready to get away and relax. Our destination had to be within the U.S. because both our passports are expired. We wanted warm weather and cocktails on the beach. Hawaii called our names, and I started researching.
We decided we wanted a little taste of resort life—and a longer taste of non-resort life. Formed by two large volcanoes merging and overlapping, Maui is unique in geography, weather, and landscape. The various coasts of the island are vastly different. The west side is a drier and sunnier side, with white-sand beaches and sunsets. The east side is a tropical rainforest, dense with green vegetation and wet with sporadic downpours. The south side is almost desert-like. We wanted to see it all.
From the airport in Kahului, we rented a Jeep and drove to our resort in Kaanapali. It’s true that the warm air hits you and embraces when you arrive. With a long stretch of beach, and a famous snorkeling spot called Black Rock just steps away, we were happy to get acclimated to warm-weather. The second morning, we went out on a sunrise whale watching cruise with Pacific Whale Foundation, where we watched as the sun and a number of humpback whales greeted the day—Maui is a leading whale watching destination from January to May. That evening we went for a walk along a beach trail and found a spot to sit and watch the full moon rise over the volcano and through the clouds. It was the brightest moon I’d ever seen.
On day three, we were ready to explore and it was perfect timing—Hana was our next destination. Reached mainly by driving on a winding, 52-mile highway, Hana is one of the most isolated communities in the state. With dozens of one-lane bridges and narrow roads, Noah was tasked with driving, and I was happy to sit in the “pathfinders’ position,” not really navigating, but sitting in awe of the scenery. Lush forests lined the roads, vines hung low, and waterfalls took us by surprise around the bends. One of the few signs on the side of the road was a smiling man saying: “Pull over for locals!” (And we did!)
I fell in love with our vacation house the moment I saw it online. Called Kawika’s Hill, it’s located on the Hana Highway, but has 100 acres of land behind it. With ocean views, a hot tub, and a grill, we were sold. We settled in quickly to the life there and the creatures that surrounded us. A woodpecker-like bird lived somewhere in the roof or ceiling, wild boar screamed and rustled around us some nights, cows mooed, and we walked in on a family of little lizards in the kitchen having a reunion (thankfully discovered on the last night!).
We visited many amazing spots in Hana, like the used-to-be-undiscovered Red Sand Beach, the Lava Tubes, and Black Sand Beach. With only one or two stores, The Hasegawa General Store is absolutely worth a visit because of its history. We scheduled a horseback ride with Maui Stables in Kipahulu. Our guides, Kioni and Joe, took us on an amazing four-hour journey. Beginning with a Hawaiian prayer, our horses hiked up a trail to a high peak above a lush valley with waterfall views in the distance. My horse supposedly knew I was a gentle spirit and took advantage, stopping to eat everything like she was on a snack expedition. Noah’s horse, Kona, was a beauty but not especially quick, which is perfect because Noah’s spirit animal is the turtle.
We were interested in snorkeling again, after trying it briefly at Black Rock. Hana Bay was a perfect location and Kevin Coates—who has led a kayaking/snorkeling tour for close to 20 years in Hana—was recommended. Launching from the beach, and with the help of BJ, a Hana-native and Kevin’s assistant, we kayaked to a small coral cove where we suited up with snorkel gear and dove in.
Under the water, the world opened up, revealing colorful fish and reefs. I became very aware of my stillness—if I was still, the fish and creatures would appear. Kevin called for us to follow his kayak out to a deeper area, quickly. I went under right in time, just as a sea turtle was swimming deep under and away. I took a couple of pictures (using an under water camera rented directly from our guide). After our excursion, Noah and I met BJ for lunch at his aunt’s snack bar. Spending time with him and his family, seeing just a piece of their lives, was a highlight of our trip.
We’ve been back for over a week and I’ve worn the clip-in, plastic, Hawaiian flower in my hair almost everyday. Noah thinks I’m holding on to a piece of the trip for as long as possible. He’s absolutely right.