If you’re reading this blog it means that we made it to Maui without any hospitalizations (honeymoon hospital stay). This time, we were able to have our honeymoon in Hawaii and it went much better than the first attempt. Before I go on, let me just thank everyone who made Michaela and I feel so special on our one year anniversary celebration both in person and from afar. It was a perfect day and one that we’ll never forget. The remainder of this blog will be pictures, the occasional video and me writing about our time in Maui. I hope you enjoy!
It was an early start (for Michaela at least) with a 4:00am wake up for a long day of travel. Following two plane rides, over 16 hours in transit, a few coffees and overpriced airport food, we made it to Hawaii around 3:30pm local time (9:30pm EST). We picked up our rental car (a convertible of course) and headed off to Target to get some groceries for our stay. By the time we made it to our Airbnb, it was about 5:00pm local time (11:00pm EST) and we both felt like zombies. We cooked some eggs, toasted some waffles (I took pictures of Michaela that she wan’t thrilled about) and then headed right to bed. Even though it was a long and tiring day, I wouldn’t have wanted to spend it with anyone else and it got us to Maui!
With some strategic planning, Michaela and I booked a sunrise tour of Mount Haleakala for our first morning in Maui. We woke up at 1:30am local time (7:30am EST) and took an hour van ride up to the top of the dormant volcano. Upon reaching our destination (over 10,000 feet in elevation), we stepped out of the bus and soon realized that although we were in Hawaii, it was 35 degrees outside. With the others in our group, we stood outside in the cold and watched the sun rise over the clouds (below us). It was a spectacular sight and I got plenty of pictures (at the expense of annoying my wife). Following the sunrise, we took a bike tour down the mountain and it was incredible. The ride was all downhill (I only had to pedal for about 30 seconds) and it took us through some of the most eclectic and beautiful terrain that I’ve ever seen (not pictured because we were going fast – 40 mph at times). The time difference still has us feeling disoriented at this point but we were still able to get in a walk on the beach, do an outdoor workout and cook a delicious dinner.
We were able to get a good night of sleep before heading out on an all day adventure to the north side of Maui. This was the day that I wore a bucket hat (in preparation for being a dad someday) and Michaela was not the biggest fan. Our first stop of the day was at Waihe’e Ridge Trail (4 mile loop with 1,600 ft elevation). It was incredible how lush and eclectic the terrain was. It felt like we were hiking through the rainforest but with views of the ocean (when clouds allowed). The trail was wet and full of mud but we made it up and down without any falls. Next (against guidance from online sources), we took highway 340 which runs along the north coast of Maui. It’s a road that runs along the side of a cliff with very few guardrails and hosts two-way traffic even though it’s only wide enough for one car. The drive wasn’t as treacherous as it sounds but it sure was beautiful. With constant views of the ocean on one side and rock of all color on the other, it was well worth it. We spent some time hiking the acid war zone trail on the north shore (not sure about the name) and it felt like we were in a desert surrounded by red rock (but also next to the bluest water I’ve ever seen). While looking out over the ocean, we spotted a potential way down the 100+ foot cliff and decided to go for it. We carefully traversed rock and ladders to get down toward the blue tide. The water was rough so we just watched but it was well worth the climb. To finish off the adventures for the day, we stopped at the Nakalele blow hole (an opening in the rock that ocean waves force water through). We drove about an hour back to our Airbnb and then cooked steaks on the grill before heading to bed.
This was a more relaxed day for us (with few pictures) spent on three different beaches. The first, right behind our Airbnb is quiet, small and where we spent the morning watching the waves roll in. In the middle of the day we went to Keawakapu Beach to meet up with a friend of mine (Danny Gevirtz) and his dog, Sanza – we caught up, had a football catch and got a little sun burn but it was worth it. From there, Michaela and I drove to Makena (Big) Beach to go snorkeling. The water was rough when we got there, so instead of snorkeling, we walked along the coast, found a hidden cove and it was beautiful. We ended the night with dinner at a local restaurant and then saw the most beautiful sunset we’ve ever seen.
This was the day that we adventured through the famous and highly anticipated Road to Hana. To make a long story short, we saw a few cool things (see pictures below) but spent the large majority of our almost 9 hour trip in the car on less than ideal roads. To be more specific, the Road to Hana felt underwhelming compared to what we had heard from others. By the middle of the day Michaela and I were both tired and a bit nauseous from the winding roads (600+ curves). We decided that it would be fastest to continue home along the southeast side of the island on the Hana Highway (against advice we had received) and looking back, that wasn’t our best decision. Not only were the roads unpaved, uneven and close to the cliff, but it was raining (heavy at times) and there were moments were it felt like our car wouldn’t last the trip. Following the difficult car ride, we drove through some beautiful landscapes and then made it back to our Airbnb in one piece before calling it a day. This wasn’t our best day of the vacation but we got through it and even had some laughs.
Following a morning workout (for me), we headed off to the north side of west Maui to visit the same cliffs that we had on day three. However this time, we were strategic with our timing; we went in the morning to avoid the rough tide so that we could climb down to the still pool of water right next to the ocean. With some careful maneuvering we made it down to the water and it was hands down one of the coolest things I’ve ever done. We swam in a pool of still, clear water right next to the rough blue waves of the pacific ocean with steep black lava rock cliffs to our backs. It was just us and it was perfect. When it was time to go, we climbed back up and drove down to Honolua Bay where we walked through the lush forest to get to the hidden cove where we snorkeled. We saw plenty of fish and colorful coral before heading off to the adjacent cove where we snorkeled again and saw sea turtles up close. On our way home we stopped in the small town of Lahaina to check out some shops and then we stopped on the highway to get fresh pineapple and a smoothie. Today was a full day filled with adventure and even though I’m feeling tired, we’re both feeling very grateful to have experienced it.
Unlike our other days, the plan was to spend this one at sea. We spent the morning on a boat that took us to two different snorkeling spots (we almost didn’t get there on time). The first spot (Molikini) was a volcanic crater off the coast of Maui with super clear water and colorful coral. The second spot was part of the Maui shoreline called “turtle town” and as you might have guessed, we saw many large Hawaiian sea turtles. The entire experience was awesome, but while Michaela could have snorkeled for hours more, five hours out on the water is a bit past my limit. We were happy to be back on land and we spent the afternoon watching the first cut of our wedding video, hanging on the beach behind our Airbnb and then eating sushi dinner. I didn’t get a whole lot of pictures today, but it was a good one!
I made it eight entire days without a gym but this morning at 4:00 am local time (10:00 am EST) I broke down and went to Planet Fitness to workout. It felt great to be back in the gym and it started the day on a great note. When I got back to the airbnb, Michaela and I watched the final cut of our wedding video before heading out on a hike to the Lahaina Pali Trail which was a steep 5 mile loop on the hot, dry and windy side of the west Maui mountains. We had some beautiful views along the way but were definitely happy to be out of the wind and heat at the end of the hike. We went to the town of Lahaina to walk around, get some food and enjoy the nice weather. I took a few pictures of the colorful roosters that roam the streets of Maui and then we headed back to the Airbnb to sit by the pool, eat dinner and get some sleep. It was good day!
On our last full day in Maui, I once again worked out in the morning (a stranger got me into the gym for free as a guest) and then we spent the day at Makena Beach and the lava fields on the south side of the island. There was nothing too special about this day but it was a good one. We ended the day with a stunning sunset on the beach and we started feeling a little bit sad that we would be leaving tomorrow not knowing when or if we will ever be back in Maui.
This is a bittersweet (and long) last day. We will soon pack up, return our rental car (so worth it but also such a rip off) and then get on our first of three flights that will span 24 hours and land us back in Philadelphia in the middle of Friday (May 14th). The vacation went so slow but also so fast. It felt great to explore a new place together and to recharge but it will also feel good to be back home at the place where we get to share great moments every day of the year!
Because I don’t have any pictures for this last day, I wanted to leave you with something extra special. Our wedding videographer (Luke O’Brien) did an incredible job capturing our special day (he also sang this song for us). Here’s an eight minute video that I will watch thousands of times in the years to come.
This trip was one that we waited over a year for and it was well worth it. We had so much fun and made some great memories, however, it also made me realize that special moments don’t have to happen in special places. Some of the hardest laughs and biggest smiles happened in the most common places doing normal things (driving in a car, cooking a meal and walking in a store). I’m so grateful for our time in Maui but I’m just as excited to be back home where the laughs, smiles and love will continue. I’m refreshed and so thankful to be where I am with who I’m with.
Now back to Philadelphia!
Joe Rinaldi, PT, DPT