From England to Maui
Growing up in a small village of rural England, hearing the words “Hawaii” felt more like hearing of some far away unreachable planet. This was how I viewed Hawaii, a tropical paradise of palm tress and white beaches that was so out of reach, it felt like fiction. That was until the travel bug truly gripped me. I feel that the moment you realise you can really do something, you tell yourself it’s happening and you get that burst of belief, that is the most wonderful moment. Last spring, I spent months debating where to spend my summer; after two summers of staying within Europe, I knew it was time to go further.
Led on by a friend with false hope that we could go to Asia, my plans were crushed when she bailed so I started to think of alternate options, within my budget. I decided if I was going to go somewhere, I was going to go all out. I thought why settle for Europe again if places you really want aren’t out of reach. Looking over my bucket list, locations like the Grand Canyon caught my eye and my head ran through a number of things: no language barrier, easy flights, and safe Western location. I thought, why had I not considered America before? Soon enough, I had set my sights on an American adventure.
When looking at my finances, I worked out I could do approximately three weeks in the States, with hostels costing around $40 a night. It was going to be an expensive trip. Yet, I had almost four months of summer break before university started so if I was flying all the way over there, why should I go back so early? I started looking for volunteering work in California and surrounding areas. I browsed WWOOF and other work placement websites with no luck. I found one charity I was interested in volunteering at but it didn’t fully make my heart jump.
I remembered a friend saying her friend ran a hostel in Maui that was looking for helpers for summer and I decided to search flight prices. When I saw they were just £400, it seemed so surreal to me! I didn’t think about my university fees or how I would eat for the next few months; I just booked the tickets to Hawaii! It seemed so alien and out of this world. Getting the approval to help out at the hostel was so much easier than I imagined and soon, I was packing my stuff and heading to the USA.
I try to think back to what I expected Hawaii to be like. I expected it to be more rural. While some places are like that, my area, Lahaina, was the perfect blend of rural and fun, with a good choice of bars yet surrounded by locals who got to know and befriend you. I don’t know where to start when reflecting on my days in Maui. All I think is how fast they flew by. I can’t help but think how fortunate I was. I was given morning shifts at the hostel; up at 8 am and done by 12 pm, with all that time left to explore everyday.
My first few days were spent lazing around, taking in the heat and the beauty and soon I started to make friends. I began to bond with other girls working at the hostel and that’s when the fun really started. We would work and then spend our days heading to the beach, going for happy hour and hanging with the locals. There was no shortage of local boys offering to teach us to surf, although I ended up more of a paddle board girl as the waves were vicious.
I can’t keep count of all the adventures we went on. The road to Hana was a personal favourite; a very long day but an amazing one when you’re surrounded by good people. The drive involves waterfalls, natural pools, different coloured beaches and a whole lot of beautiful green scenery. Almost every day was spent snorkelling. For me, seeing sea turtles had always been on my bucket list so it was surreal to see them everyday and be so close to them. Yet opposite to peaceful ,the Sunday beach parties deserve a shout-out. With entire afternoons dedicated to drinking, dancing and face paint, what is not to love?
My highlight experience of Maui was the Haleakala Volcano. We spent a day hiking it, which was beautiful but the real wonder were the sunsets and sunrises. One of the most surreal experiences of my life was going up there for a meteor shower. It was freezing cold and we all huddled under sleeping bags and blankets, watching the shooting stars above us. I have never seen anything so beautiful!
Maui didn’t come without any issues; from getting electrocuted on my first day of work, to some crazy waves attacking the beach (meaning we all had to evacuate and half our stuff, including my friend’s iPhone, getting washed into the sea). We all had summer romances, followed by summer heartbreak and many the drunken nights. I experienced so many new things and embraced new cultures. In England, you would not find one person hitchhiking yet in Maui, we did it every single day. You don’t need a car in Maui if you use your own initiative and find your own way around. Riding in the back of open top vans is so much more fun than it sounds! I got my first ever tattoo in Maui, a sea turtle, known there as Honu.
As I write this, more and more memories keep popping into my head. Too many to list but I will sum it up by saying that I cannot flaw Maui in any way. It was just as much paradise as I pictured. I miss eating sushi everyday and drinking pina coladas in the sun. What I would give for an authentic dish of Hawaiian poke and some fresh pineapple! I am waiting for the day to return to my paradise of Maui.