Went sailing for the first time! Me, Jason, Jeremy, Ruth, Ramona, Tristan, Nadine and friend saw whales and a spectacular Maui sunset, and Jason let me take the wheel!
Shoved myself into a miniature toy bus made for kids, at the Queen Ka'ahumanu Center
Revisited the town of Paia several times, visiting Paia Bay Beach (great surfers) and the Fish Market, where I tried the mahi mahi burger (well cooked and moist; no need to add mayo or ketchup, which says a lot from the sauce guy that I am) and juicy fish tacos, opah burger (think cut; moist, juicy, and plenty of flavor), and the Obama ono burger (heart-shaped cut, with a special wasabi sauce) - all were amazing! One day I got to ride Mike's scooter to Paia. Another day I went with my friends Xabier & Stefan, had amazing seafood and local Hawaiian beers :)
Became a first-time hitch-hiker! I told a couple of fellow bungalowers it was our stop, but they didn't believe me, and on the bus went for two miles down the road before we could get off. Within 5 minutes we were picked up by a lovely British woman. Of course, it helps when you're with two females! :)
Watched the Geminid meteor shower from Spreckelsville Euro Beach on Monday, December 13th.
Joined the bungalow's Road to Hana tour on Tuesday, December 14th, with stops all along the coast, including Keanae Park (jagged, black lava shoreline and world's best banana bread stand!), Wainapanapa State Park (legendary caves, a black sand beach, and I handled a banana spider!), taco lunch under a road-side tent, body-boarding at Hamoa Beach, "Seven Sacred Pools" of Ohe'o Gulch (fresh water pools and waterfalls that empty into the ocean), and a 4-mile hike on the Pipiwai Trail (above Oheo Gulch) through a bamboo forest past the impressive Makahiku Falls overlook, ending at the massive Waimoku Falls, falling 400-feet down a sheer lava rock wall (which I climbed under for a quick shower - hooray, I didn't die!).
Got naked at Little Beach several times, while swimming, sunbathing, body-boarding, and beholding breathtaking sunsets.
Sipped/gulped Happy Hour Mai Tais at Life's A Beach Restaurant & Bar a couple more times
Sang my guts out with good friends at two different beach bonfires on the dunes of Spreckelsville Euro Beach, the first bonfire (Thursday, December 16th) I even took over on guitar when Canadian Idol finalist Earl Stevenson passed out! "Baby Got Back" was a crowd-pleaser, lol. The second bonfire I slept on the beach - first time ever sleeping on the beach - thank god for the fire - brrr! The morning swim in the warm water was nice.
Friday, September 17th-Sunday the 19th, I, along with my new German friends Benno, Marius and Matthias, went tent-camping at a secret, secluded site on the edge of a cliff (awesome sunrise), and back-packing up the strenuous, 9-mile Kaupo Trail to Paliku Campground, up 6,380 feet (1,945 meters) at the east end of the wilderness valley at the base of a rain forest cliff inside Haleakala National Park. We had consumed most of our food and water by the time we had arrived, and the people staying in the nearby cabin must have sensed it, because they thoughtfully brought us drinking water and leftover dinner. They said the Kaupo Trail is used for going DOWN the mountain, not up, lol!
The next morning Marius and I were aggressively chased by protective Nēnēs nesting their young near the trail to the outhouse. We had to go completely out of our way, the long way around the cabin, to avoid getting our ankles bitten off by the damn things! It was a beautiful hike though, and with great company. The clouds and fog often roll over the top of the cliffs behind Paliku, creating extra moisture that makes the area exceptionally cool and lush, and because half the trail is located on private property used as farmland, we saw grazing cows and many goats. I could've sworn we were in the shire of hobbit-land! ========================================================
Ate at the lively Cheeseburger in Paradise in Lahaina a couple of times, trying the Maui onion rings (good, but nothing special), and taking in the mesmerizing sunsets out its oceanfront windows.
Tried Hawaiian "Shave Ice" at Lahaina Ice Cream Parlour. It's like regular shaved ice, but it's served atop ice cream, and you get to choose from several tropical flavors. I chose the Passion Fruit, Mango and Li Hing Mui syrups over Maui Mango Madness sorbet. MMM! And I walked next door to Tutu's Pantry and tried some free samples of sauces and vinaigrettes, including Pineapple and Guava flavors!
Spent a handful of afternoons, including Christmas Eve day with my good friend Merlin from Germany (after an unsuccessful attempt at running all over town in search of x-mas hats), at Puunoa Beach ("Baby Beach"), with excellent sunset views and conveniently located just a 10-minute walk up from the main strip of Lahaina (Front Street). One day I got to observe a romantic wedding ceremony from down the beach.
Hung with Keoni, a Maui native, and friendly couch-surfing host Merlin stayed with off and on. He took a bunch of us to karaoke at a Korean hole in the wall strip mall, showed us how to make "brass monkeys" (a 40-oz of Old English ale mixed with orange juice) at a cool spot overlooking the city of Wailuku, brought us to Pita Paradise for the world's best gyro, and introduced me to his friend Richard who he grew up with.
The crew and I rocked it out at the Banana Bungalow Christmas Eve Karaoke Party! My signature "Baby Got Back" really got the crowd goin, lol! And what about Isaac and I's "Sexual Healing?" Or Matt # 1 and I's "Don't Stop Believin'?" The "Yellow Submarine"-turned "We all live in Banana Bungalow" garnered the most participation.
Speaking of karaoke, I sang my songs ("Baby Got Back" and "Play That Funky Music") at Tiffany's Bar & Grill, a casual place where locals go (they asked me what I was doing there, lol), and this one table of Asian women behind me loved it so much they kept buying drinks for my friend and I!
Caught some sun on Christmas day at Kamaole Beach Park 2 in Kihei with my British bungalow friends Pete and Amy. Never wore a Santa hat on the beach before. Even the lifeguard was decked out!
Surfed for the first time! Manager Laina, tour guide Isaac, their dog Koa, and Laina's friend Tina, took Ken and I to "The Cove" (Cove Park), a popular beach for long-boarding and beginner surfing lessons in Kihei. The waves were perfect, only a couple feet high, and after a little observation and a couple tips from Ken and Isaac, I stood right up and rode the wave all the way to shore!
Masqueraded the night away at Banana Bungalow's 2011 New Year's Eve Masquerade Mask Party, featuring a make-your-own-mask decorating table, free keg, and fireworks!
Watched professional kite-surfers hone their skills at Kite Beach, "famous for being the World's best kite surfing beach, home to those who originated the sport." Ken got some practice in, while my German friend Hanna watched the action and got to know each other better.
Browsed through numerous art galleries along touristy Front Street in Lahaina. Did you know Anthony Hopkins paints? He was being featured in one of the galleries. His stuff isn't too shabby!
Joined my Finnish friends Tommi and Hannes for a day of exploring the beautiful beaches and hair-raising roads of Northwest Maui, visiting Ka'anapali Beach (cliff-jumped from Black Rock again!), Napili Beach (beautiful, fun, family beach), Kapalua Bay Beach (lovely, calm, quiet), D.T. Fleming Beach Park (gets thumbs down, since the beach was pretty much completely shaded by ironwood trees), we stopped the car on the bluffs overlooking Honolua Bay as we thought we saw whale spouts.
"From Kapalua to Wailuku you pass some of the most rugged coastline in the world and some very lovely beaches and bays which are not well known or frequented. The drive itself is absolutely breathtaking, in some ways more impressive than the Hana Highway, which gets much more publicity. The car rental companies restrict you from traveling around West Maui's rugged north shore, but we were rebels, lol. Although narrow and winding, the road is paved the entire way. Perhaps the rental companies' issue lies more in the fact that if you were to break down, getting service would be hard, plus the road can be dangerous in bad weather with flooding and falling rocks." It was one of my most favorite and most dangerous drives to date! ========================================================
Kicked back at the beach with bread, brie and beer a handful of times (usually at Ka'anapali), watching the waves, sailboats, sunsets, yachts and catamarans, with the island music of the live bands from Hula Grill in the background. One time I soaked in the oceanfront hot tub of Whaler on Ka'anapali Beach hotel. Another time I went with friends Matt #1, Heidi, and Uschi from Austria, and watched the sunset cliff-diving ceremony.
Swam with a school of wild dolphins in La Peruse Bay! A couch-surfing host I previously stayed with recommended it, which in turn I told Jason, who organized some trips out there. There must have been about 15-20 curious dolphins swimming around us. It was one of the most amazing experiences I've ever had.
Revisited Ho'okipa Beach to check out the world-class windsurfers and kiteboarders with coworkers Chase and Julia, and my friend Heidi from Iowa. Afterward, I took Heidi to Paia Fish Market to try their amazing fresh fish (and of course she loved it!)
Piled into the bed of a stranger's truck with four first-time hitch-hikers. They had their cameras out like Japanese tourists, LOL!
Rocked a toga at Banana Bungalow's "Anything But Clothes Party" on Saturday, January 15th, celebrating tour guide Nadine's birthday with fire-breathing, a free keg, party music, and of course, making a complete fool of yourself by dressing up in your very own custom creation, made of anything but clothes!
Did some awesome snorkeling at Palauea Beach (aka"White Rock") with fellow bungalowers Charlie (Montreal), Simon (Denmark), and Devin (Los Angeles). We saw amazing tropical fish and tons of giant green sea turtles (one almost swam me over!). Then we did a little exploring around the rocky outcropping at the north end. So glad I heard about this lesser-known locale from my friend Dirk, because it wasn't in my guidebooks!
Smelled the paradise (or poop, rather) at Kahekili Beach Park (aka "Airport Beach"), or as I named it shortly after arriving: "Poopy Beach," lol. It looked nice and had free parking, but we obviously didn't stay long. I just googled "Kahekili Beach Smell," because I knew we couldn't have been the only ones who smelled it (though there were plenty of other people on the beach that day), and sure enough, I got plenty of search results indicating there's a sewage treatment plant just up the road.
Attended the Old Lahaina Luau with my friend Douglas from Brazil. The food, the cocktails, the dancers...it was an amazing night.
======================================================== Swam with sea turles at a secret snorkeling spot when I was spending the day with a bungalower from South Korea. We were swimming and sunbathing at beautiful Napili Beach, and saw people exploring the reef at the south end of the beach, apparently trying to see sea turtles, so we thought we'd check it out. We didn't see any turtles, but we followed the reef around to a bay, where there was a handful of people snorkeling.
Before we could even get our masks on, snorkelers were indicating sea turtle sightings. We carefully got into the water (the lava rock shoreline is pretty sharp) and saw a big turtle within seconds! In addition to turtles and all the beautiful fish, I spotted my first eel! It appeared to be a zebra moray eel, and I certainly didn't get too close! We exited the water in front of a condominium complex where there was an outdoor shower, and before leaving the grounds I grabbed a brochure and found we were at Honokeana Bay. ========================================================
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