My grandparents used to have an apartment on the beach in Maui.
They sold it shortly before my grandfather died. My brother and I were horrified by their decision to sell but mollified by the opportunity to go and pack it up for them in preparation for the sale. It was July in 1998. We had 8 days. And we had a plan.
We arrived in Maui in the morning. Early. That’s what I remember anyway. I turned forty and stopped caring about what people think about me, whether or not anybody knows about my constant (losing) battle with chin hair, and having a constantly clean bathroom, but I can’t remember a damn thing. Everything in life is a trade off.
So. Thus arrived in the fragrant and mellow Maui, we went straight to the grocery store and loaded up on supplies, which in this case means cardboard boxes from the produce section, tape, markers and whatever food we could afford. In Hawaii everything is so bloody expensive we probably ended up with a box of saltines and some expired 2% milk. No matter. We were on a mission.
We didn’t sleep for the first 36 hours. But we packed that place up and we packed it up good. What didn’t get packed, labeled, and shipped was picked up by Goodwill or donated immediately. Our reason for being in Hawaii addressed, the vacation commenced.
When we were functional, we rented a jeep and struck out on the road to Hana, the scene of Great Parental Humiliation some years earlier on a family vacation when someone tried to sell us a certain kind of herb and my mother misunderstood the word “buds” for “floods” and flew into what can only be described as a full-on hystericalbatshitpanic and tried to make my dad pull over on a heavily trafficked one lane highway fearing for our lives and an imminent deluge of water on an otherwise totally dry day. Good times.
If you have never either driven on or heard of the road to Hana, you should. Hooray. All kinds of awesome. For lots of reasons. And I’m not talking about the floods.
We had no destination in mind, but we’d read about some place called Blue Angel Falls, otherwise, or more accurately, actually known as Helelel’ike’oha Falls. But for reasons which should be fairly obvious, we called it Blue Angel Falls.
The directions to get to Blue Angel, or dakfldj aeioa eahfdjhfdk ajf, Falls, were something like this:
Drive for a really long time over spine compressing and kidney jarring dirt highway. Yell at your brother to “keep your damn eyes on the road” after he nearly drives off the cliff for the sixth time checking out spectacular view but whatever, you’d like to live to see another day. Bear left at the stand selling bananas, but the not the one that has the blue sign, the one with the yellow sign with the blue flowers on it. At mile marker 35.6 stop and pee by the side of the road. Wave at tourists passing by honking at you. Turn down the fourth dirt road on the right past mile marker 41. No. Not that one. Not that one either. Realize after travelling down the third one for fifteen minutes that you are, again, on the wrong dirt road and back track. Bingo! Right dirt road. Consult map, which says nothing about fording a stream en route to ComeOnIWannaLayU Falls. Wonder aloud if rental car contract covers “jeep swept away by stream.” Decide to risk it. Abandon jeep.
To get to the falls and the pool, you clamber over the rocky shoreline a ways. The ocean is rough in this spot, and the rocks are sharp and forbidding; nobody comes here for a casual day at the beach. The falls feed into a pool that is separated from the rocky shore and ocean by a natural wall of smoother, friendlier rock. The pool is pretty deep but has a sandy bottom. It’s a freshwater pool and is not icy but cold enough to be refreshing in Hawaii’s summer heat.
We were the only people there. For the entire afternoon. In paradise. The ocean roaring in at our backs, trade winds, because this is June in Hawaii, blowing, but not too hard, and about 100 feet of waterfall in front of us. As my brother says, it is, simply, the most beautiful place in the world. Shangri-La.
The falls have become a bit controversial of late, I gather, because getting there requires crossing private property, so as of now, they are off limits.
The rest of our vacation in Maui was also spectacular. We went snorkeling in the Molokini crater (which, if you know me at all is a huge deal bordering on the unbelievable, but it’s true, there are witnesses), spent a hilarious day at the mostly nude Makena Beach* with a colleague from work, and had an unforgettable day body surfing during which I ended up with so much sand in my bathing suit that I frequently found myself inadvertently sinking to the ocean floor ass first.
We haven’t been back to Maui since the apartment sold. My kids should see it, though. Probably with their Uncle Booger.
*The answer is NO. I was on vacation with my brother, for heaven’s sake, and with a colleague from work? I think not.