Sure, it isn’t the shortest flight in the world (like the bizarre 90-second flight between Westray and Papa Westray in the Orkneys), but it comes close – the plane doesn’t even put the wheels up during the 20 minutes between the Honolulu and Kahului airports!
Maui… a familiar name evoking girls with white flowers in dark hair and wearing palm-leaf skirts, or a shampoo line with volcanic ash and crushed lava for more shine. It’s the sound of exotic distances and tropical hideaways.
Couldn’t be further from the truth – people look and dress normal here, and a large part of the island is dry and flat, so unlike the lush Hawaii you expect.
As soon as we get out of the airport, a 32 mph wind is on us, trying to rip our clothes off, turn our hair into bird’s nests and chase us back onto the plane.
Not the kind of aloha you expect.
The car rental office is empty with no lines in it, their park packed with cars – tourists being a rare sight these days, we get upgraded to a cute, black Benz convertible! Now, all we have to do is to figure out the metaphysics of the tiny trunk and our 5 bags in it, and we’ll be all set.
Our first stop is at a supermarket, where we get a $5 elephant-trunk-sized ham and cheese sandwich (sometimes, food is really about just killing your hunger). A blond, ripped homeless guy with a guitar over his shoulder smiles at us and gives us the proper warm-hearted Maui welcome you see in movies. We’re so moved by it that not only we spend the next 15 minutes listening to his life story (San Francisco musician), but also sharing our sandwich with him. Never mind he just nibbles on it – probably saving it for later.
South-west Maui, where we’re staying, is the sunniest and driest part of the island. That’s because it lies in the rain shadow of the Haleakala Volcano, dormant and silhouetting on the horizon.
Kihei, the town, lies 25 minutes from the airport and has plenty of accommodations; it also features 6 miles of beaches where the trade winds are so strong they’re blowing people across the water back to States! No, they don’t … but you get so sandblasted it stings!
Our condo is a nice one-bedroom place; we’ve decided to splurge a bit on our lodgings as we go to guarantee we always have something to look forward to on the next island. This place is much better than the last one – it even has a washer and a drier, an amenity lacking in most American condos! We’re so delighted, we don’t even mind it doesn’t rinse.
My first impression so far? Spoilt by Oahu and its natural diversity, and misled by all the people raving about Maui online, I’m still not giving up on the heaven on earth, the land for dreamers Maui is supposed to be. Where are you hiding, luscious paradise with vast sandy bays and a glimmering ocean?
Honestly, what can you expect from a place where even the homeless are picky?!
More on Maui read https://bohemianhag.com/hawaii/maui/