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MAUI: FRIENDCATION

After our first week in Maui, we picked up our friends, Kristin and Chris from Kaliluhu. Two years ago, we were lucky to have been gifted a time share stay in Kaui and Kristin and Chris joined us for our first Friendcation. This time around, they were gifted a time share stay and we were going to bum with them for a full week. That means we got a bed, walls, and AC! Oh what luxury it was.

However, we had to wait two nights before the condo was open to us, so we continued camping, and stayed for the first time at Camp Olowalu. Eric and I planned to tent camp there a few nights later in our trip too, as it was the only legit camping available towards the west side of the island, and was convenient to adventure out from. When planning a trip from across the country, it is difficult to know exactly what you will want to do and what a place actually looks like, even with the internet commentary. I was prepared for an overall ok experience at Camp Olowalu, and that is pretty much what we got. They did have tentalows as well, which were cheaper than other accommodations on the island, but still about $90 a night. Eric and I stayed with our tent, and Kristin and Chris stayed in a tentalow, since they did not pack camping gear, and it worked perfect for all of us.

Compared to the nice campsites Eric and I had had by this point, Camp Olowalu was a bit of a let down even though we knew to expect the conditions and price. At $40 a night for a tent site, we were close to other campers, the ground was nothing but dusty red dirt (and inch long thorns), the 'beach' was just a rocky entrance to coral, and roosters crowed right outside our tent from 4:00am – 8:00am. Even that was fine. The worst part was the first night. A bunch of ass holes camped in the middle of the whole tent area and were up until 3:00am partying. With close together campsites, even with earplugs, they were impossible to block out. Because Camp Olowalu is a private campground there was no on site security unless you called 'Tim' which at the time I did not have Tim's number.

The second night I actually got some sleep and we were able to joke about the group of idiots who were up all night drinking talking about how they 'dropped acid and went to see the Grateful Dead in '93 and it was way better than the '94 show!'. People were telling them to shut up all night, and they just kept saying 'Oh, Soooorrryyy! Anyway my buddy had a party.....' etc.

Another instance to add to the list where people become the worst thing about camping.

During the day, we started the friendcation out with our favorite activity, snorkeling! Maui has a crap load of great places to snorkel, so we started driving west, and stopped at a few different stops as we made our way around the entire west side. Unfortunately, I had two more days to wait until my ear healed completely and I was not able to swim. I watched the stuff and got some extra beach time while Kristin, Chris and Eric scouted for the best snorkel spot. On our way along the coast, we stopped for lunch in the Napili shopping plaza. This is where we discovered the Napili Market. They were awesome because Eric could eat their spicy musubi and I was able to get the best poke bowl for super cheap. We ate there a few more time on our trip it was so good.

The last snorkel stop we explored was Honolua Bay. This place was a dream. There was a short hike to get to the beach through a jungle, and the snorkeling was top notch. Chris and Eric couldn't see it all with the time we had, so this was the area we decided to come back to at a later time (yay for me!).

We continued our drive north around the west side of the island with a few stops for views and ambling hikes. Right around Kahakuloa the road turns to one lane and winds along the cliff side of a more remote part of the island. Thankfully there was not a lot of traffic while I was driving because on the one million blind turns, only about two of them were close calls with another car. The locals who live around these areas on the west and east side drive like a bat out of hell, and the tourists drive like they all are in a giant boat that can only go 10MPH. I drive somewhere in between, but I can see how frustrating it would be to drive these roads daily.

Not to many people drove past Honolua Bay, but we wanted to make sure we circumvented the entire island. On our way back to camp, we grabbed dinner at Da Kitchen, and were all pleasantly satisfied by delicious Hawaiian style cuisine including macadamia nut crusted Ahi Tuna sandwich, a whole heap of Kahlua pork, and kimchi crab cakes.

The next day we were able to check into the condo, and oh was a relief it was. Although we had had decent luck with weather and campgrounds, we had been sleeping on our backpacking 'beds', which is basically a foam pad with a wool sheet. As soon as we turned on the A/C and laid on the lumpy pull out mattress, we smiled from ear to ear, knowing we were going to finally get a full night sleep.

And then I got sick.

Well, like most things along this trip, with the good must come a minor inconvenience. We did get a nice beach day boogie boarding and swimming while drinking homemade cocktails out of water bottles before it really hit. It was a bit of a bummer, but we all still had a good time. I was going to be damned if I let a cold hold me back from much needed friend time.

Over the next few days we snorkeled, swam, sunned, drank, and putzed all around the south side between Kihei and Makena. We also stopped what ever we were doing to play the daily lottery at 4pm to get the last minute tickets to the Haleakala Sunrise. Luckily, we 'won' everyday, and finally used them on Thursday to make sure I was feeling at least ok. (Secret: I was dying the whole day)

We started Thursday at a reasonable 2:45am to drive two hours up a mountain. Then, we donned extra layers and blankets to stand outside in 40 degrees to wait for a big ball of fire to breach the horizon over a 2 million year old volcano. It was glorious, yes, but crowded my goodness. Kristin and Chris were smart and ran up a hill for a more secluded experience. I was struggling just to even talk at this point, so Eric and I crammed ourselves up among the masses. The sunrise was beautiful, and we were glad to do it, but it confirmed that mountain sunrises are only fun when you can just walk outside your tent and enjoy them in peace (at least for us.) It now takes the pressure off the tons of other places that have the “oh you HAVE to see sunrise on such-and-such mountain!!” off our backs. Though, a Hawaiian native did share a traditional song to welcome the sun and give thanks to Pele, which was chilling. Hawaii always makes me wish I had a stronger pull towards an older culture.

After sunrise, Kristin and I parked the car and hitched back up to the peak to start our 12.5 mile hike down through the crater with Eric and Chris. To me, the hike topped the sunrise tenfold. It was eerie, quiet, beautiful and awesome in the full sense of the word. We had a blast spending the day gallivanting through cinder cones and along moon-like landscapes. I loved watching Kristin freak out over the colors of the sands and Chris fighting back the urge to run ahead and hike ALL the trails. Both of them were in their element, exploring something new and different in nature. We were all exhausted (I'm pretty sure I sleepwalked all the way to bed) by the end of that day but very happy. And we saw Nenes!

This friendcation also included the quintessential Luau! I had been to one before during our wedding trip, so I knew it was a tourist fest, but not to be missed. We went to the Old Lahaina Luau, and it met every elevated expectation we could have had. Top-notch food, graceful hula (with gorgeous dancing ladies and gentlemen,) and tons of weak pina coladas. We walked in, immediately received a flower lei and a mai-tai, and watched the most perfect sunset while enjoying Hawaiian culture, or a version of it anyway.

We finished out this portion of the trip with a drive around the east side of the island, again for us, first time for Kristin and Chris. I was so happy we were able to grab a sea side campsite again at Haleakala, and Kristin and Chris were able to enjoy the cliff side sunrise right out of their hammocks. Unfortunately, we had to rush through the waterfalls along the road to Hana, but were able to chill at Wianapanapa and Hamoa beach before their flight left.

The time spent with friends is irreplaceable, and I am so grateful Kristin and Chris spent their vacation with us in Maui. Friendcation 3: The Florida Keys!!

Love you guys!

15/10 would friendcation with Kristin and Chris again.

Song: Haleakala Hula – Uluwehi Guerrero

Click here to view the entire Hawaii photo album.

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