Aloha dear readers! I’m sure everyone already knows that this beautiful word means both 'goodbye' and 'hello' in a common sense, but it has many meanings beyond that too. Its literal meaning is the “presence of breath” or the “breath of life,” and it also means 'love,' 'peace,' and 'compassion.' This lovely, all-encompassing word comes from the vivacious, young, land of Hawaii, but before we get to that, a quick update.

I may have mentioned previously that I have begun the arduous task of building an entirely new home for Adventures of an Aquaholic. Since 2007 I’ve brought all of my content to you via Blogger, one of the earliest blogging platforms available online. Back in those days it was pretty cutting edge stuff to just post a story online with a couple photos, email the link to your friends and family, and voila! That was about all a blog needed to amount to.

The blogosphere is a very different place today. I see other travel bloggers making it big time, and no offense to any of them, but I find the majority of writing out there to be at a level that would make my fourth grade composition teacher cringe. What they do possess however, is a flair for online presence and social networking. So I’m attempting to teach this hopefully not-too-old dog some new tricks, starting with a shiny new website. I was hoping to have it ready for you before posting my Hawaii content, but it turns out that there is even more to re-building a blog than I had anticipated. So bear with me here, and thanks for the patience. In the meantime, let me tell you about Hawaii…

Here's a sneak preview of a page on the new site!

As long as we’re in blast-from-the-past mode, let’s go back to Honduras, six years ago where this story began. I went to Honduras to learn how to become a dive bum, and met some pretty cool people there. One of them of course was Fletch, who was one of the most generous persons I had even met, and an all-around stellar example of the kind of outgoing person one should aim to be. We became friends and a year later he chased me halfway across the country and I eventually decided to keep him for good. We fell in love and moved to Thailand and the rest you can find in the past six years of posts.

I also met Matt, who arrived a couple weeks after I had begun my training. He was from Louisiana and had been working in Alaska on zip-lines previously. This was the guy who showed up to the dive shop all clean-shaven and presentable because he thought that our “internship” was going to be something that required one to be presentable. We were all ignorant at that point in our beach-bum careers, but for those of you still unfamiliar with the industry, let me tell you, dive shops on the beach are where people turn when they’re done with office life and ready to look like a grungy hippie from here on out.

Six of us piled into a dinghy six years ago...

Fast forward a year and Fletch invited me to visit friends of his in the Virgin Islands. We both met a new friend there, Boston Dave, a Bostonian with an endless array of jokes that weren’t really that funny the first time around, but for some reason got funnier each time he told them. The heavy Boston accent probably had something to do with that. And now six years later we still quote the punch lines.

So Matt moves to Hawaii, sometime after Roatan, and has been inviting us to visit ever since. Then in 2016, Boston Dave visits Hawaii, and Fletch, the ultimate friend matchmaker, tells him that he should meet up with Matt. Dave and his girlfriend ended up staying, and then we had two friends to go visit in Hawaii. And now I’m finally catching up to the present day. (I take back what I said earlier about everyone else’s writing; maybe I’m the one making my fourth grade composition teacher cringe).

Fletch and I have been meaning to visit Hawaii for a few years now. A happy coincidence bumped us into Matt in Shreveport, LA of all places, and inspired us to put the trip on the front burner. Then thanks to my sister being a flight attendant for United, I was able to fly the entire way for free. Thank you, Annie, for choosing a career with benefits so well-suited to your sister’s wandering lifestyle. I know it was all for me.

It's serious planning time when the whiteboard comes out!

The journey, despite being halfway across an ocean, felt deceptively quick after the long hauls we’d become accustomed to. We just nodded politely though when people commented on the long journey as part of their obligatory small talk. Matt picked us up at the airport in his pickup truck decked out with surf racks, and fulfilled his role as dutiful host by bringing us straight to the bar where his girlfriend worked. We met the lovely Molly and downed a refreshing pitcher of Mai Tai, then piled back into the truck and ambled on to a beach.

Reunited, six years later!

Matt gave us the tour as we drove towards the beach and I realized that Maui was way more laid back than I had expected. That made me happy. I had been worried that it was going to be a tourist trap for a bunch of wealthy Americans, all vacationing in their time-share condos. I know that group was still hiding somewhere, but the people we saw were your average surf bums, working 3 part-time jobs to afford the lifestyle. Where I had expected to see Hawaiian shirts and fanny packs, I instead saw long, unkept hair and ratty old tshirts. That was more my kind of vibe.

When we made it to the beach, there were signs to keep at a distance if any turtles were present, and sure enough, there was a green turtle as we peeped through the trees. I’d never known turtles to crawl out of the water except when they lay their eggs, but apparently Hawaii is one of the few places in the world where turtles do exactly that. Matt called them lazy turtles. As I gawked, I realized that I’d never actually seen a sea turtle out of the sea. It looked very out of place, and like gravity had had more of an impact than it should have on something with a hard shell. Personally I would think floating along in the buoyancy of the salt water would be more restful, but what do I know; I’m not a turtle.

Lazy green turtle, probably singing, "I want to be where the people are, I want to see, want to see 'em dancin'..." 

We spent the evening at a bar called Moose McGillycuddy’s, drinking and playing trivia. Apparently this wasn’t the main trivia on the island though, no, that would be at Dog and Duck on Thursday nights. Matt seemed to know at least half the people at the crowded bar, and introduced us accordingly. Some of those people’s names I’ve already forgotten. Sorry, but I’m terrible with names. And some of those people would become our friends for the next three weeks.

The following morning Matt continued on his tour by bringing us on a drive through the lava fields. He gave us a wonderful lesson on the geology of Maui, but I have never been a geology person and so am unable to replicate it here. Basically the Hawaiian islands are very new as far as landmasses on Earth go, and so on this area of the island, the lava that flowed less than 500 years ago had not yet broken down into the soil that allows the lush green vegetation covering other parts of the island to grow.

Lava Fields of Maui; you would never know you weren't looking at dirt. 

The lava fields looked like massive chunks of turned up dirt. You’d never guess it was lava at a glance. You would think you were looking at a field of freshly tilled soil. Except those giant clumps of soil were actually rock solid. There was a whole trail you could hike through the lava fields, but today wasn’t a day for hiking. Today was a day for sightseeing.

We drove through a wealthy part of Kihei, the part where all the multi-million dollar homes of celebrities were; the part I had been afraid all of Maui would be like. We looked up one of the houses for sale on Zillow and decided we should all move in. It was a jaw-dropping 6-bedroom, 9-bath, with its own waterfall, aquarium, movie theater, gym, open-air bar and wine cellar; yours for the low price of 22.8 million dollars. We jokingly referred to the mansion for the rest of the trip as “our new home.” That much luxury isn’t really my style, I’d be happier with a shack on the beach, but who doesn’t love entertaining the thought of so much extravagance for a second.

This photo is brought to you by Zillow. See the full listing here. You know you want to...

After finding our new home, Matt brought us to a picturesque beach where three people were out trying to surf. All the colors looked unnaturally vivid. One dude was trying his best to catch every last wave, while his two friends just sat out there waiting for the perfect one. Then a guy on a boogie board tumbled in which caused the lifeguard sitting down the beach to announce over his loud speaker in a scolding voice that the waves were not suitable for beginners - an abrupt reminder that we were still in the land of rules and regulations and safety precautions.

Surfer catching a wave in Maui. Check out those colors!

So in one morning we managed to see barren lava fields, multi-million dollar neighborhoods, and colorful beaches full of surfers, all without leaving the 12 square miles that made up South Maui (ok, the lava fields might have been a little beyond those boundaries, but not by much).

We breakfasted at Matt’s favorite bar, Fred’s, which we would come to know very well over the following three weeks, and then wandered around some of the open air markets. Matt looked at a wooden-carved tomahawk a moment too long and the lady who owned that stall took her cue to try and sell it to him. Fletch and I walked away quickly before she might catch on that we were the real tourists here.

We returned to Matt’s place to pick up the paperwork we needed for our Jeep rental, a Jeep that was outfitted as a camper and would bring us around the Road to Hana. That is all I can tell you for now though. The Road to Hana was a magical adventure and deserves its very own post. So stay tuned until next time!