day 1 :

monday, 4 february

It's been well over a decade since we've traveled to Maui, or to any tropical place, for that matter. But it seemed high time to finally take advantage of Seattle's proximity to the islands and flee the gray, wet winter for some warm weather relaxation. We typically love to travel in spring or fall to places where we're immersed in unfamiliar cultures, so initially, we weren't sure if we'd enjoy a Hawaiian vacation as much. But any hesitation we'd had about spending our precious vacation time in Maui quickly dissipated as we headed to the airport on a gray overcast winter day, with a suitcase full of swim suits and shorts, and our Maui Revealed book in hand.

We had a great flight, despite the fact that our preschooler, Ian, barely slept. Just as he was drifting off for his typically two hour nap, the intercom announcing the last drink service woke him up (nobody realizes how annoying this is until you have a napping child), and he was giddy with excitement for the rest of the flight.

A direct flight was one reason we chose Maui, plus we also had fond memories of our brief trip here in 2000. Maui seems to have the perfect combination of lush paradise, small-town island feel, fun outdoor activities, and delicious food. Kauai was a close contender for us, too - perhaps we'll visit on a future trip.

We arrived and picked up our rental car with no problem. We noticed that a lot of the cars here, including our rental, are white or silver with light colored interiors, to help keep things cool in the sun.

First stop, groceries. The big grocery stores like Costco, Whole Foods, and Safeway are located right by the airport, and are a good place to stop before checking in at your hotel or rental, which are typically at least a 30 minute drive away. That said, if you're headed toward Paia, you should wait and go to Mana Foods instead.

On the short drive to the store, we saw a full rainbow to the east, hanging over the airport where it was drizzling. While we had pointed out rainbows to Ian in the past, this was the first time that he could figure out what we were pointing at. He stared for a while in silence at his first rainbow sighting.

It makes sense that we saw at least three rainbows in just the first couple days of our trip. The island is often rainy on the windward sides or on the mountains (one spot overlooking Hana claims to get more rain than any other part of the Hawaiian islands), yet there will be near-constant sun in the leeward parts of the island. In areas like the north shore, rain often spurts up without warning, even while the sun is shining, and disappears just as quickly. It's the perfect weather recipe for rainbows.

At Whole Foods, we bought provisions for our stay, along with a quick dinner of Kahlua pork sandwiches from the prepared foods section. We picked up some medium-roast Typica Maui Grown Coffee beans, local SoMoor pineapple passion fruit jam, and some Maui Brewing Company beer.

When we walked into the lush garden of the oceanfront property in Kihei where we were staying, a couple of guests sitting on the patio greeted us warmly. It turned out that the other two couples staying there were also from the Seattle-Tacoma area. I suppose we shouldn't be too surprised since we're all here for the same purpose: to escape the rain. The property is on the leeward side of the island, and indeed, there wasn't a drop of rain on this part of the island while we were there.

Then, Jackie, the owner, walked around the corner, with a beach bucket, shovel, and sandy tractor in hand. She welcomed us and handed Ian the toys, telling us that there are more toys around the side, but the tractor is most-requested by kids. Ian was immediately ready to move in. Jackie showed us around the suite where we'd be staying, and helped us feel right at home.

The best part about staying at Dolphins Point was the proximity to the ocean. A couple dozen steps from our room was the beautiful public Kamaole I beach. The house sits halfway between the public access points to the beach, so there are few people sitting on this part of the beach, and you have unobstructed views of Kaho'olawe and Molokini islands to the left, Lānaʻi to the right, and the sun sinking into the ocean between them in the evening.

We watched the sky turn colors as we ate dinner on our lanai (outdoor dining/living room), and then we all went to bed early, with the sound of waves crashing around us.


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