Big Jackson Cameleon (4)

Went to the island of Maui in Hawaii for this first time a week and some ago, this is what I recall.

Hard Not To Say “Yes!”

It was early December, and the weather had been quite cold. I hadn’t seen my friend Chris for a while, so we met up at Huber’s in downtown Portland for Spanish Coffees…which are the best ever. His wife was around six months pregnant at this time. After some time catching up and now starting our second drink, he tells me that he’s going to Maui for his sister’s wedding. Afterward, he looks at me, jokingly hits my arm, and says “You, should totally go!” I thought about the fact I hadn’t been to Maui yet and that the weather was bringing me down, so I quickly replied, “I should totally go!” Whether he was joking or not, it didn’t take long at all before I was looking to see how many points it would take to get there. I had just over 35,000 with Hawaiian Airlines from a couple credit card offers a while back, so I moved some points from my American Express Membership Rewards account to my Hawaiian account, booked a flight, and I was set to go.

Who Needs Planning!?

Coming up to the trip, Chris and I chatted a bit about where exactly we were going, but we didn’t really have any set plans outside of renting a jeep to do some off-roading. It’s the kinda travel planning I enjoy. We had our accommodations and rental planned, but outside of that, we were just going with the flow. It wasn’t until we met for the flight that I really even knew how we would go from Kahului Airport (OGG, main Maui airport) to Aloha Aku Inn in the town of Kihei.

Getting to Kihei, Maui
Windy Maui

I got picked up by Chris and dropped off at the Portland airport a couple hours before our flight, and since earlier this year I got a card that granted me access to club terminals, we lounged up and enjoyed some complimentary drinks and food before heading out. Our flight to Maui was pretty nice as we upgraded to the extra leg room seats and it was one of those where it was just him and me sitting next to one another. That flight took us for a quick stop in Honolulu. We missed our first connection (which most of the Portland people going to Maui also did), but we only had to wait around thirty minutes before the next. Even though we didn’t get our planned seats for the flight to Maui, it was short and sweet so no worries there. The weather when we arrived Maui wasn’t as stellar as I was hoping, the clouds were dark and the trees were blowing hard. Thankfully, this was just today.

I forgot to mention that before our flight from Portland, we met up with Chris’ grandparents Burt and Nonnie who at first were a bit quiet and reserved, but they eventually opened up throughout the trip.

They ended up being our ride to Kihei, as they were renting a car from another spot and the place they rented from picked us up as a courtesy. Saved me and Chris a long cab ride to our home for a week.

Aloha Aku Inn, Kihei
Aloha Aku Inn (5)

The place we resided for the next week was quite an amazing place. A large group of us stayed above the garage in a two bedroom room with a kitchen and living space. Chris slept on a futon couch, and I stayed on a couple mattresses on the floor. Not a big deal, cause the price was right and I have slept on a lot worse.

The the main “house” had a large suite upstairs where the owners lived, and four private rooms below with a central shared area that had some complimentary food and drinks and a shared room that worked as a library and a workout room.

The side of the place facing the ocean had a pool area centered with the main part of the house. In the middle was a hot pool that overflowed to heat the pools on the right and left. From there it was a grass lawn that dropped to a lovely beach and into the ocean.

The Reason We Came: The Wedding
Megan and Daniel Wedding

The day Chris and I arrived to the inn, we were greeted by his aunt Nancey and her friend Kristin, both from LA. We were explained that the flowers arrangements that were for the wedding weren’t in fact arranged. So we all put our florist hats on and worked together to create some lovely center pieces for the tables. Pretty stellar job for a bunch of people who just had a picture and a bunch of flowers.

The following day, Friday, we spent the majority of the time setting up the back yard of the inn with tables, chairs, and everything else for the reception. Thankfully we were blessed with some amazing weather, but it wasn’t easy to not just want to lay down at the beach.

Later that afternoon we got cleaned up and headed out to Lahaina where the wedding was happening at a park. When we arrived, we were greeted by a number of the groomsman and soon found Daniel, the groom from Maui, a bit heated. We found out that there was a “resort” sort of place a few places over that had “view” of his wedding, and the manager, or whoever he was, came over and started telling Megan (the bride) and Daniel that they’re going to have to go somewhere else. Thing is, Megan had lived here three years and knew the rules, so she got her permit early for the place and quickly told the guy off. That’s the gentlest way I can put that, but none-the-less, we stayed, and they had a beautiful ceremony.

Soon after the wedding we headed back to the inn to party all night with a number of their friends and family from both the main land and Maui. There was drinks galore, great food, hula dancing, a photo booth, fire dancing and so much more. It was awesome.

Getting Wet and Dirty

Chris and I tried out paddle boarding, but found it to be more difficult than we thought with the wind, so we spent some time kayaking instead. While out and about I saw a whale far off in the distance breach. It was rad.

The following few days Chris and I explored a large chunk of the island with the jeep we went and picked up. Joining us in their jeep was Nancey and Kristin. To get some killer views of the island, we went towards the top of the Haleakalā National Park, we weren’t looking to go to the top, so once we got to the pay section, we made our way back and enjoyed the sites. From there we went through some cool small towns to our destination of the morning, Twin Falls. It’s a cool spot with a bunch of rolling waterfalls if you can navigate your way to the top. We however didn’t know about the other waterfalls, so we stayed at the lower one which was still pretty great and powerful. Nancey, Kristina, and I went through the water a ways to get there and had a good time going under the falls themselves. After some time we made our way to meet up with Chris’ family and his new brother, Daniel.

Daniel, from Maui as mentioned above, grew up skating, dirt biking, and surfing all over Maui. He was excellent to have as a tour guide cause he knew so much about his island. Chris, Daniel, and I separated from the rest of the pack and then we really got some use out of our jeep. Our first venture was towards the light house. The roads were made of mud and it had been raining the last couple weeks before we got to the island, so there were many deep puddles. Thankfully, our jeep was awesome and did just great. Only problem was a bunch of morons decided to take their front wheel drive truck through it all and got stuck blocking our way. Thanks guys. Though it wasn’t successful getting to the light house, we had a good time and found out what this jeep could do. So we went to something a bit more adventurous.

There is an old high school that closed down due to a fire in the seventies, and though the foundation and some walls were all that was left, it was a really cool site to check out. Next to that high school was a dirt road with a large yellow gate. Daniel reassured us that it’d be fine to go through this area as long as we were quick about it. So we went on in and stopped a quarter of a mile down the road, climbed on out, and over a hill to the old sugar mill. This place was built in the 1870’s and probably hadn’t been used in decades. It was overgrown with trees, and there was graffiti everywhere. The graffiti was excellent though and you can tell the kids around these parts spent a lot of time around here. I ended up climbing up a tree that had some plans nailed into it and got to see it from the top. Such a cool place that I wish was in my neck of the woods where I grew up. These are the places you go with locals and are just awed that you have this opportunity that not many people get.

We made our way from the sugar mill and back into the jeep to get out off this road, well what do you know…the gate is locked shut. Now I’m not talking about a small gate, if it were, I’m sure Daniel would have just told us to run it over, no this was one that would ruin your day. Thankfully, Daniel was from Maui and use to dirt bike all throughout these dirt roads around the sugar cane fields. He hopped in the driver seat and took off through the fields on the roads. I was stoked. I love this sort of stuff where you have no idea whether you’re going to get out of things. I’m sure I was beaming with a huge smile on my face. We eventually made our way towards the main road and there was another locked gate the same as the other. We rode along another dirt path that paralleled the road we wanted to get but was blocked by a dirt mound wall about five feet up with trees along it. What do we see, some tracks. We found that we aren’t the only person who has been in this position. Chris and I hopped out, not cause we were scared, but cause we wanted to film it! Daniel lined the jeep up along the dirt mound wall and floored the gas to get the jeep over the mound and onto the road. It was epic!

I remember saying that I want to do some real off-roading if we’re getting a jeep; this curbed that desire.

New Animal Companions
Big Jackson Cameleon (2)

Along with my time in Maui, I found a whole bunch of little critters that I picked up and enjoyed. Frogs, lizards, birds, and more. Maui is quite the place of animals that I don’t see every day, so I was glad to get some good pictures and make some new little friends.

Relaxation and Answered Questions
Ocean Views (1)

The trip wasn’t just weddings, off-roading, and picking up animals. I also spent a lot of time relaxing in the hot pool, the cold pools, and the beach and in the grass. The sun there was warm and felt amazing on my skin. Got some reading in, and did a lot of soul searching. I even was able to answer some questions that I was locked up on while back home. More to come of that later.

One of Chris’ aunts, Julie and her husband, bought everyone entry to do some whale watching while we were there too. It’s my second time doing whale watching from a boat in Hawaii, and was lucky to see a couple more breeches, some tail slaps, and even got a nice wave.

Travel Home

Chris and I left on Wednesday pretty similar to how we arrived, except this time we stayed at a complimentary lounge in Honolulu. Not as nice as the Alaska lounge in Portland (no free food), but they had some free non-alcoholic drinks and a nice place to relax.

We landed in Portland after a long day of traveling close to 11pm and after getting home, I stayed up a bit, and went to sleep. I’d say over the trip was a major success and gave Chris and me a chance to hang out like we use to and that was quite a good time.

Good luck to Megan and Daniel with their marriage, hope it lasts a long long time. Chris, thanks for “inviting” me along and thanks to your amazing family for being so hospitable. Good luck with raising Leo, Chris. He’s gonna turn out great!

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Jason has been writing his adventures for a number of years now. This his stab at travel blogging. He's the main contributor for Jason Gets Around since it's him actually going places. He is a traveler, an adventurer, story teller, kickball player, a pool shark, a software engineer, and now most recently, a licensed pilot.