Arriving at Maui International Airport, feels like travelling back in time to the 70s. Vintage may be au courant but the charm of this dated vacationist decor is questionable. I’m accompanied by my beautiful spine adjusting, flamenco dancing Brazilian friend Patricia. Like troubadours, with our instruments and backpacks, the two of us begin our journey with no agenda and plenty of spirit.
We waste no time renting wheels and leaving the sunburnt tourist traps in search of the real Hawaii. According to Hawaiian mythology the cultural hero and ancient chief Maui pulled the Islands from the ocean floor with his giant fish-hook, Manaiakalani. You don’t have to look far to see the rich natural history that is abundant in Maui. Like the bosom of the fire goddess Pele, the land rises out of the sea in two volcanic mountain ranges connected by a rich valley.
After dancing all night to funk music among a crowd of surfers and sun-kissed hippies in the cowboy town of Makawao, we rise early, sleepy-eyed, for the long and legendary drive to Haleakala National Park. We stop for lunch in the little town of Paia on the way. Apparently, this is where all the yogi-kombucha-drinking haoles are living. We enjoy a farm-to-table lunch and stroll the boutique and art gallery lined streets. It’s the last we’ll see of much civilization before the winding route around the windward coast of the Island begins.
Every bend in the road presents a stunning scene that my clumsy camera happy fingers can barely keep up with. I surrender the need to digitally capture every picture and let my mind etch it’s own memories instead. ‘The land of the waters of Kane’ reads a sign as we drive through a lush rainforest fed by running rivers and waterfalls. We eventually reach the small town of Hana and pick up a young backpacking American couple who are looking for a ride to the farm they’re working and living on indefinitely while they ‘figure things out’. I giggle in reply thinking that they’re not the only ones … aren’t we all just ‘figuring things out’? We drop our fruit-picking wayfarers off and finally reach the park that holds the seven sacred pools.
After hours of twisting and turning on the jungly mountain pass we are happy to stretch our legs and hike alongside more than two dozen pools on the Pipiwai trail to Waimoku Falls.
It’s a two mile hike up the mountain to the falls. I feel like a child again as Patricia and I make our way through the wild trail. The sun barely reaches us through the thick arms of the bamboo forest and when we finally break through we are rewarded by the 400ft cascade of water. It is below this awe-inspiring cathedral of rock and water that I can hear the hum of the earth and see the smile of God. We strip and step into the cold pool and silent prayers escape my lips as the water falls on our backs and upturned palms.
Wet and rejuvenated, we race back down the trail, exchanging words of praise and thanks for our encounter with what was one of the most spiritual experiences of my life. As we continue our drive around East Maui, we are reminded of Hawaii’s endless beauty at the sight of a double rainbow ending in a peaceful bay.
Curiosity and adventure plagues us as we spend the next few days exploring every inch of unauthorised road Maui has to offer; the historic whaling turned whale-watching town of Lahaina, the lost villages of West Maui and the land of low-lying clouds that wraps around Haleakala, the house of the sun.
Across the Pailolo channel the island of Moloka’i begins to beckon. Hearts full of mana, we board the ferry to the friendly isle. Mele Kalikimaka. Merry Christmas.
Natasha Kozaily is a local singer-songwriter and painter. She released her debut album Between Shores and followed it up with the EP Tales of One Fish. She resides in San Diego where she continues to create and perform. Natasha completed her bachelor’s degree in music from Cardiff University, where she wrote her thesis on Caymanian folk musician Miss Julia Hydes. You can reach her at natashakozaily.com