March 17, 2020 / 6:33am HST: Woke to the sound of birds, but not the kind I wake to in Wisconsin. No, these birds are new, bright and sounding of joy that only a life on the ocean could bring. I sat there listening to them belting out their tropical tune for a good ten minutes and then I got up. I decided to catch the sunrise in a time lapse. Alone watching this sunrise is the perfect example of social distancing. I mean it, barely a soul was awake!
I made the most of the moment, standing there just reveling in it for a good hour. After the sunrise had done its thing, I trudged back to the rented Villa that we were staying at and quietly prepared my instant coffee and what I lovingly call ‘green sludge’ really its just a kale juice, but same thing. I enjoyed the early morning sun for a good half hour just waiting for the rest of the house to wake… my other friends preferring to sleep in rather than enjoy the beginning of the day.
After everyone got ready for the day we began our trek to Dragon Fruit Farms, for a historical agricultural tour all about Maui and a fruit tasting tour that followed. We decided to do this tour before COVID-19 took away our vacation. The tour was super cool and extremely informative. Fun Fact: Pineapples are not native to Hawaii. After our tour, the four of us drove up to Makawao, a village in the mountains of Maui to pick up some floral head leis (haku leis) that two of us had pre-ordered. Even here, in this rural mountainous town, the effects of COVID-19 hung. Stores were closed with big signs announcing to tourists and locals alike to steer clear. The little business where we had pre-ordered our haku leis had a sign that said “Appointments ONLY. No walk-ins Please!” the sign advertising the precaution people are taking during this pandemic.
We picked up our Lei’s at 3:30pm and with social distancing in mind, kindly thanked the woman who made them and made our way back to our Villa. We stopped on the way at a deserted grey sand beach. At the time I thought the lack of people was due to the weather (which was grey and overcast), but in hindsight it might have to do with COVID-19 (or a mix of the two).
March 18, 2020 / 6:45AM
Again being awoke to the incessant chatter of tropical birds I began to make my way out to the deck and my lawn chair overlooking the ocean. I drank my green sludge and waited again for everyone to stir. Once Emma made her way down from the second floor, we made our way down to the beach. Splashing around in the surf was the perfect start to the morning.
Amanda and Krissy found us soon after and we all came up with a game plan for the day. Krissy wanted some fresh sugar cane so we found a place called: Twin Falls. Driving through the winding roads of Maui was surreal: Today, the sky was so blue and the wind was so floral and fresh. We drove all the way there – two hours – only to find out that the lady at Twin Fall Fruit stand on Hana Highway had SOLD OUT! Amanda worked her magic and she somehow managed to find some for Krissy. Stopping for lunch was next on the To-do list.
Finding a place open due to COVID proved tricky. We headed to Jaws Country Store, where we found an assortment of merchandise and a food stand in the back. The food stand included smoothies, acai bowls, poke bowls, and burrito bowls with ahi tuna. All four of us ordered a Passion Dragon fruit smoothie and an assortment of food for lunch.
After lunch, the beach was on our minds. Finding a beach in Maui, is like breathing: You can’t go 400 feet without finding a sandy shore. Spending the rest of the day at the beach, we enjoyed our time in the waves.
March 19, 2020 / 4AM
This was it. This was the day we’ve been waiting for – the whole reason we chose Maui as the island of Hawaii to stay on. Hearing that there were black sand beaches that seemed completely out of this world, but we knew this was the place to stay. We drove the Road to Hana to find the alluring black sand beaches. All the colored beaches of Maui are owned by the state. There are white sand beaches, gray beaches, red beaches, green and black sand beaches. The red, green and black sand beaches are all kind of next to each other.
Driving the road to Hana was a heart attack to say the least. We started our trek at Four in the Morning to try to beat the traffic. To say that this road was treacherous was an understatement. It was like being on a roller coaster: Up at a 40 degree incline and then, plummeted down into the valley. The road hugged the cliff’s sides, and showed you just how far you had yet to go. Switchbacks lined the entire road making you blind to oncoming traffic.
After driving three hours, we found the beach we were looking for – almost. Maui State Parks closed that morning due to COVID-19. This information was not updated on the website so we drove on, oblivious to the fact that Waianapanapa State Park was was closing. The sign on the park gate was: WAIANAPANAPA STATE PARK CLOSED! ALL MAUI STATE PARKS WERE CLOSED DUE TO SOCIAL DISTANCING AND THE LIMITING OF THE SPREAD OF COVID-19.
Now what on Earth are we supposed to do? The whole reason we chose the island of Maui was to go to the uniquely colored sand beaches. Now, in one fell swoop, COVID-19 ripped that dream away. A Ranger approached and saw the distress on our faces. He offered to take my phone down to the beach and snap some photos. Even though we couldn’t see it with our own eyes we at least got some footage of the beautiful, Waianapanapa Black Sand Beach.
9AM – 3PM
Back down the Road to Hana, it was time to come up with a new game plan. Finding a beautiful natural coral hued beach, we stopped to reassess our day and game plan. I flew the drone and captured some great footage, determined to turn this day around.
March 20, 2020 / 10AM
This was a day solely dedicated to the private pool outside our villa. We did absolutely nothing besides splash in the pool, get some sun and enjoy each other’s company. Krissy and Amanda managed to get sunburned – in the shade – with sunscreen on! (Have no idea how, but they did.) Our vacation rental was becoming a ghost town that was deadened by the fear stemming from COVID-19.
March 21, 2020
Last full day on the vibrant, green gem of Maui. Emma, with me in tow, scurried down to the beach one last time to fly the drone, take some beach photos, and just say farewell to the calming waves of the Pacific.
Perhaps the universe gave us a boon – perhaps it was just dumb luck – but we were extremely lucky to have been at that beach at that time. Running down the beach was a man who stopped and began chatting. He, his wife and two boys were next door villa neighbors. We got to talking and found out that they had been scuba diving for the last three days. Fun Fact: I’m a certified PADI Diver for seven years. He invited me to join his dive. On the last day, this trip took a positive turn.
This was probably one of the best dives I’ve ever been on! We saw 12 sea turtles AND a white tipped reef shark. It was so surreal. I couldn’t believe that I got the opportunity to do it.
Grabbing lunch after the dive was also a super fun experience. The guy I dived with, along with his family, took Emma and I to lunch at a groovy local joint. Due to COVID-19 all food orders were carry-out only. We ordered and grabbed some shaved ice and began the drive back.
Back at the villa, some final exploration was in order. We began to hike around, and came upon a new beach: Kapalua Bay Beach. Known for its beautiful cove and landscape, it was the perfect end to the day for our the last sunset in Maui.
Stay tuned for part 3.
Story by Ari Dohr
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