Saturday, November 3, 2012

Adventure Maui

Lulling ocean waves, umbrella drinks, and serene sunsets. Those are just a few of the things that immediately come to mind when thinking about Maui. While entirely accurate descriptions, there is another side to the island that makes this paradise an even greater wonderland of enjoyment. Above, below, or on solid ground, adventure in Maui awaits. There are things to do here that are impossible to imitate elsewhere in the world because of the absolutely natural splendor of the island. The incorporation of adrenaline inducing activity into the laid back vibes of the island mix effortlessly. During our time in Maui, we went powered hang gliding, zip lining, and offshore snorkeling. 

When I first read about powered hang gliding I had no idea what it was. Wow, was this some of the best money ever spent! The hang glider needs an engine to bring it to maximum height, but once in the air, the power is cut and the remaining time is a silent glide until landing smoothly back on solid ground. This felt like the truest sense of soaring through the sky like a bird, scanning the beautiful lands and coast of Hana.
Hang Gliding Maui
Steering the glider over the ocean!
Hang gliding Maui is a business run by Armin, who is sensational. We arrived at the airport early for our appointment and about five minutes later, here comes Armin commuting to work from the other side of the island in his small plane. He was so friendly and engaging that any nervousness dissipated immediately. While in flight, Armin explained how to fly the glider and instructed us to steer for a short time. We were able to hear him communicate with other pilots in the area and learned about some of the aerodynamics of the glider. Coasting over the beaches and waterfalls in the area is beyond any more description I could write. This does requires a drive to Hana if staying elsewhere on the island  (which just gave me another blog post idea for the Road to Hana), but it is well worth it.

Flying Hawaiian zipline takes you careening through the west Maui mountains, a landscape that showcases the natural diversity of the island. Traveling over 2.5 miles on 8 unique zip lines ranging from a 250 ft. training line to the 3600 ft. finale, it is hard to determine if the exhilaration comes from the speed of the zip line or the encompassing panoramic views. The guides are phenomenal, providing excellent assistance to feel 100% safe and educating the group about the history of the island. This is a five hour event with some hiking, so I recommend coming hydrated and doing the morning tour when it is cooler. Though they give you a souvenir canteen (which we use all the time) and refill your water supply throughout.
Having a blast!
As you zip through the marvelous Hawaiian landscape, the tour takes a stop to recognize the importance of preserving this exquisite land. Guests plant and water endangered Hawaiian plants that the company is working to keep alive. Part of the cost for booking goes toward ensuring Flying Hawaiian can keep the license required to plant these rare flowers. This is an invigorating and environmentally friendly activity.

The final line - About to reach 50 mph!

Snorkeling options are everywhere on the island. We rented gear for a week and went almost every morning on the beach near our place and at Black Rock on Kaanapali beach. This awarded us a plethora of colorful fish, and even encountered a sea turtle and sting ray. However, there are  ultimate snorkeling adventures waiting offshore. We chose to take the Four Winds boat to the sunken volcano location of Molokini. This excursion takes you to Molokini only, whereas other options may split the snorkel trip up between two sites. Recommendation after doing this is stick with Molokini only. The sea life is phenomenal and you can leisurely enjoy the swim. Food, drinks, and all snorkeling gear is included.

Maui snorkeling
Picture of the crater from
Molokini is a few miles off the coast of Maui. A sunken volcano crater, the waters are incredibly clear with visibility up to 150 feet. The crater is a carefully protected marine preserve and a Hawaii State Bird Sanctuary. Its crescent shape protects the inside from the waves and currents, making it a haven of water that is clear and calm. The extreme variety of fish pretty much round out every part of the color wheel. Molokini is home to at least 250 distinct marine species.

Molokini snorkeling
One of many schools of fish at Molokini
Maui's landscape allows for all of this and more. We turned down options for surfing and paddle boarding, and fantastic hiking brings you to some of the secluded wonders of the island. An aspect of these adventures I can't speak to highly enough is the people coordinating them. Infusing the Hawaiian spirit with each activity takes the overall experience up several notches. When you visit Maui, be sure to relax and refresh, but know that energizing activities are prevalent. Relaxing on the beach is easily a favorite of mine, but I challenge anyone coming here to sit idle and not seek adventure in Maui.

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