Divine Daytripper Freelance Travel Writer


Maui, Hawaii

Maui Rainbow

At last I can see the island of Molokai.  The gentle rain left behind an arching rainbow as a gift for the inconvenience of drizzling on my Hawaiian vacation.  Still, the light showers cannot keep me from swimming in the warm, tropical waters of west Maui’s Napili Bay.  The sensuous nature of the undulating sea is like being in the womb.  Amniotic fluid.  Back to the egg.  I feel the release of tension on a cellular level.  Paradise.

The island of Maui holds seductive sway for me.  There is the delicate, musky scent of plumeria and pikaki.  The moist, humid air plumps up my skin.  I hold the vision of palm trees rocking back and forth in the tradewinds.  The sweet sound of musicians strumming a ukele and slack guitar reclaim lost love.

The last time I laid eyes on Maui’s sugar cane fields was 25 years ago.  My childhood friend and I worked as banquet servers for the now defunct Maui Surf Hotel on Kaanapali Beach.  When my friend Kim asked me to go with her to Maui, I jumped at the opportunity.  Armed with a bathing suit, the novel Bird of Another Heaven and happy memories, I am ready for a five-day vacation of swimming, reading and sightseeing.

Maui’s history is rich with tales of great chiefs and fierce battles; massive whales harpooned and brought into shore; and the missionary influence on ancient customs and beliefs.  The old town of Lahaina is the vessel that holds all these tales.  Ground zero is Lahaina’s Banyan Tree, more than 60 feet high and shading almost an acre.  This venerable tree is as important to the community as any church – strong and powerful.  It was planted in 1873, to mark the 50th anniversary of the first mission in Lahaina, a tale all of its own.

Missionaries both intrigue and repel me.  To work their Christian magic, they had to destroy the Hawaiian’s belief system and replace it with the concept of sin.  Shame and humiliation is a high price to pay for everlasting life.  I visit the Baldwin House, home to one of Lahaina’s first missionary families.  Even though I know that the lives of the Baldwin’s were hard, my romantic notion of what it might have felt like to receive members of the royal Hawaiian court, held.  Back in the 1850’s there were no other structures made of coral, stone and sturdy hand-hewn timbers like this humble abode.  Seeing the sewing kit of family matriarch, Mother Baldwin, in an austere, rustic home gives me insight to a more simple time of service, hard work and purpose. 

Puerto EscondidoKim, my traveling companion and cool surf chick, hit the waves for most of the morning at a great spot east of Lahaina called “Launiopoko.”  After her surf session, she picks me up in front of the old Banyan Tree. 

We tried to find the place where I used to live called Puamana.   It was built in 1923 as the residence for the sugar plantation manager. When I lived there twenty five years ago, it was on the edge of going to seed.  Now I can hardly recognize it, mostly because it is now a gated community.  Let’s just say it went upscale.  I try to wait long enough for another car to come through and offer the guest code.  The sign that says, only one car in through gate at a time scares Kim.  “Should I do it?” Kim looks at me and says.  “I won’t split the cost of repairing the rental car if you do.”  Okay.  Enough, already.  Walking down memory lane is not the reason for being on Maui.  Besides, I knew a great dinner was calling out to us. 

Saigon Café is off the main road of the little historic town of Wailuku. This Vietnamese restaurant offers creative, flavorful, fresh food.  We begin the meal with hot sake and an appetizer of green papaya salad and a fresh summer roll.  The combination of cilantro, ginger and a sweet and sour flavor does wonders for our already happy spirits.  The hot sake goes straight to my head and makes me dizzy – a delightful buzz.  Our main meal is a classic Saigon fondue of rare beef that we cook at our table over a Bunson burner.  Charming.  For desert we indulge in a tapioca pudding made with coconut milk.  Pure Hawaii. 

One of the greatest pleasures of being on vacation is free time in the morning to write in my journal.  I take a hot cup of Kona made by the Maui Coffee Company to the water’s edge and begin my introspection, analysis and request for guidance.  What better place to gain insight into one’s self than sitting under a palm tree and gazing over calm, aquamarine waters? Journal entry 117: The best work that I can do is to try and understand myself more so I can move on to the next level in life.  There is no way I can run, until I know how to walk.  I must do the work. 

Our next daytrip took us upcountry to Maui’s only commercial winery near the Mount Haleakala volcano.   Half the fun of reaching this historical destination is the drive.  Reaching 2,000 feet up the mountain, I see rolling green pastures with the Pacific Ocean as a backdrop and the crescent-shape of Little Molokini winking at me. 

The Ulupalakua Ranch, where Tedeschi Vineyards has a wine tasting room, is a 20,000 acre tract of land.  The serenity and tranquility of the land has a lot to do with its rich Hawaiian history.  Seems like my favorite Hawaiian monarch, King Kalakaua was a frequent visitor to this upcountry ranch.  The king was so enamored with the place, Captain James Makee, the ranch owner, built a cottage for him on the property.  The cottage remains, and is now Tedeschi Vineyard’s tasting room.  Sitting beneath hundred-year-old trees, I envision the Merrie Monarch enjoying a feast, watching a soulful hula performance then getting nicely toasted on champagne.  Oh the good life.

Inside the tasting room, the most impressive feature is an 18-foot serving bar cut from the trunk of a single mango tree. I met two friendly sommeliers who gave me four samples of their local wines.  I love champagne and am surprised at how fruity and light bodied the bubbly Tortilla Makerpineapple wine tastes. The crown jewel of the tasting is their raspberry wine.  It is sweet and dense, more like syrup than a wine.  I’d like to pour it over Sunday morning pancakes.  A luxurious item meant for savoring.

My last day on Maui is a slice of heaven on this earthly paradise.  I buy two green blow-up rafts for Kim and I to float on Napili Bay.  The waters are so calm, the only care I have is how often I should reapply my sunscreen.  Kim can’t believe that I only use a number eight to her 45.  “The equatorial sun can be brutal on your skin, sistah.”  Look at me Kim, do I care?  I think not my friend.

Later we barbecue ahi tuna for dinner.  Kim said “I feel so healthy when I am in Hawaii. I eat well, exercise more, and feel in touch with the world of natural beauty.”  I agree.  I love to be in beautiful places, it soothes my soul.  The connection to nature and her abundant bounty is an affirmation of the divine.  How do I take the little slice of Hawaiian heaven back to suburbia?  I have no answer.  For now, I am content to watch the sun, in its full glory, set behind Molokai.  The afterglow alights the clouds with a soft hue of pink and blue.  I take a deep cleansing breath, exhale and offer a prayer of gratitude.