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.
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).
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.
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.
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?
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