A plate of food at a luau

A Few Firsts in Hawaii

July 30, 2012

in beach, Hawaii, hiking, Kaui, Maui, snorkeling

Unlike many other travel bloggers, I have never kept an official travel bucket list. This doesn’t mean there aren’t experiences I hold in my head as possibilities each time I venture away from home. I was able to have a few random “firsts” once I was already in Hawaii – here’s the skinny on how they went down.

First luau

We went to a luau as the rehearsal dinner for the wedding I attended in Kauai. It started with a tour around the luau grounds, which contained gardens, a little lake and peacocks, roosters and other birds strutting their stuff. We then heard about how the food, which included a whole pig, was prepared before feasting on an all-you-can-eat-and-drink buffet. It was here that I had a second “first” — poi, a purplish paste made from taro root (this is how it’s made in Hawaii – versions from other Pacific islands may contain bananas or pineapples).

A plate of food at a luau

The show following the feast included young girls in elaborate, colorful costumes performing dances from Hawaii in addition to Tahiti, New Zealand, Japan and the Philippines. We were also treated to a poi (this “poi” is a Maori term referring to a ball made of woven flax) fire show, where a man set fire to balls attached to string and then swung them around in intricate circles. Unfortunately, we weren’t allowed to use flash photography and my camera takes crappy no-flash pictures, so I have no photos to share.

First swim in a waterfall

It’s really ridiculous that waterfall swimming has been so elusive for me. I took a tour in Cairns that I didn’t realize included a dip in a lovely fall — I was the only one in the group who forgot her bathing suit and, thus, had to stand to the side and watch everyone else splash around. I’ve been to the Caribbean and Fiji in the last 18 months — both places are rife with waterfalls, yet I didn’t encounter them in either place. When we decided to drive the road to Hana in Maui, I realized that it was basically a waterfall tour.

Waterfall in Maui

The first few we saw were a bit treacherous to hike to and had slippery rocks lining the water beds. I stupidly wore thin flip-flops instead of sturdy sneakers, so I decided to skip wading into these falls out of safety concerns. We decided to take a detour into a lush little village about 10 miles from Hana. The guidebook told us to hike a bit and we would find a small waterfall pool overlooking the sea. We stumbled upon a family enjoying a dip in the small fall and I made up my mind that this was the one. I eased into the icy cold, yet refreshing, pool and doggy-paddled my way to two jets of water spilling over the rocky ledge to make my waterfall christening complete.

First red sand beach

Our guidebook told us about a slightly treacherous, cliff-side trail to a red sand beach in Hana. Again wearing my inappropriate flip-flops, Brendan and I followed other visitors along the slippery ledge lining the ocean. Five minutes in, we rounded a bend and saw swimmers bathing in seawater only made bluer by the red sand behind it. The sand — really a mix of dark orange-red and black rock — looked like a martian landscape.

Red sand beach in Hana, Maui

First sea turtle sighting

A day before arriving in Hawaii, Brendan’s sisters went diving off Kauai and saw seven turtles. As we wouldn’t be diving, Brendan and I tried to find these gigantic, gentle-seeming creatures while snorkeling. On our last beach day in Hawaii, after about six hours of swimming on and off and snorkeling at four different beaches, we finally got our prize just before sunset. Brendan raised a snorkel fin to indicate his find and I sped toward him and glimpsed a baby sea turtle floating feet away from us. We swam a little farther along the rocky ledge and found his parent feeding on some sea grass. Her stubby legs struck out as we took in her massive shell. In a few minutes, she was on her way out into the watery abyss.

What are some of the “firsts” you’ve had on recent travels?

I had the fortune of staying with family and a friend for most of my visit to Hawaii, but if you’re looking for some fast, last-minute budget accommodation, try out Quickbeds.com.

16 Comments - Add Yours!

  1. Terri

    I am loving this post because when I went to Hawaii on a school trip (seriously!) when I was 14, it was my first time on a plane, first time away from my family … AND I had all the same firsts as you did above!! One difference — my waterfall and red sand beach were the same place.

    Now I feel like I could also write a whole post about firsts, but I’ll share my most recent: On vacation in June, I had my first happy tears on a trip, flying in a helicopter (first time for that, too!) into the Grand Canyon. When the trees end and you first hit the canyon, nose down … truly amazing.

    Reply
    1. Lauren Post author

      Wow, that is amazing! Where are you from that Hawaii was your school trip? Were your red sand beach and waterfall in Maui?

      That helicopter ride sounds incredible. Were you scared at all or just completely captivated?

      Reply
      1. Terri

        Haha yes my “Hawaii school trip” is not always to be believed 🙂 I was involved with a high school student-run program called Youth to Youth and we did a lot of programs for kids via the DARE program. We were asked to present at a conference in Honolulu! Our advisors were the best ever, they turned it into a 9-day trip for us and we fundraised for a year! It cost me $400 total. We were only on Oahu, though … and I totally don’t remember where my red sand/waterfall was. I will have to break out the album!

        As for the helicopter ride, that little 6-seater airplane in Alaska somehow prepared me … that said, I totally never need to go on a helicopter again. I’m good! But the views and feelings made it all worth it.

        Reply
    1. Lauren Post author

      Ayngelina, your posts on Maui really helped me in figuring out what I wanted to do — it was on your site that I first really read about Hana. Thanks for writing about it so extensively!

      Reply
  2. Pingback: Hawai waterfalls | Puisernu

  3. Melissa

    I don’t know much about Hawaii but reading your post makes me want to visit the place. I’m actually interested in seeing the red sand beach.

    Reply
    1. Lauren Post author

      Awesome — let me know if you go! The red sand beach was near the end of the main road into Hana. You go to the left past a Japanese cemetery and then take a 7-minute hike around a cliff.

      Reply
  4. Erik

    I haven’t been to Hawaii. Along with Alaska, they are the two states i have not been to. I’ve also never seen a red sand beach before either. Looks too cool.

    Reply
    1. Lauren Post author

      To be honest, I’d never really heard of this kind of beach before HI. Perhaps there are some on other islands or the Middle East/Asia.

      Reply
  5. Idun

    I was in Hawaii a few weeks ago, and even though I didn’t have time to go to Hana (I wanted to), I did have a first of seeing sea turtles, I think I saw a total of 15-16, and I think I fell in love a bit, they are such cool creatures! Another first I did in Hawaii was zip-lining, kinda scary, but so much fun. Or watch the stars through a telescope 3000 meters high up on a volcano. Or even to be on/near an active volcano.

    Reply
    1. Lauren Post author

      Wow, 16 sea turtles?! Did you see them all in one outing or over the course of your trip? That is pretty amazing. And the zip-lining must have been incredible with all that lushness. I considered it doing it there as well but didn’t really have time. It seems like an awesome place to do it.

      Reply
  6. Ivy @ Pathway to Asia

    Wow! Hawaii is really beautiful.. I can only see the place in some popular movies and TV shows which feature the country’s beaches and resorts with lots of people dancing merrily. But I really do think it is so much fun visiting that place.

    I really wanted to go see that amazing red sand beach personally since I’ve never seen anything like it in other countries.

    Great post by the way! 🙂

    Reply
  7. Pingback: Where Puff the Magic Dragon Almost Lived | The Life That Broke

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *