I'm waiting on some pictures from my brother, before I put up the link to all the photos, but in the meantime...If you ever make it to the Island of Maui, I highly recommend checking out the following:
1. Snorkeling. Having never snorkeled, much less snorkeled in Hawaii, I didn't know what to expect, but I was blown away. Depending on the time of year, the clarity of water and plentifulness of fish will vary on different parts of the island. Summertime, the snorkeling is better in the upper west coast and north coast. These are the hot spots: Molokini Crater, Black Rock (Ka'anapali Beach), Turtle Town and Honolua Bay
2. Surfing. It's been a desire of mine for many years to give surfing a go and I never made it happen in South Africa, so I was determined to do it this time. All three of my siblings and I took a long surfing lesson and it was totally kiff! All four of us stood up nearly every time we tried to catch a wave. If I lived closer to a surfer's haven, I would definitely want to spend time getting better at this sport. Lahaina has many different beginner's surf schools and beginner waves. We did Maui Waveriders and were pleased.
3. Sunsets. Watch as many sunsets as possible. Being on the west coast of Maui offered the advantage of enjoying many gorgeous sunsets.
4. Beachtime. Duh. Ka'anapali beach is where we stayed and it was hoppin. Lots of activity on this 3 mile stretch of beach, but it is a bit narrow and has a steep grade at points. On West Maui, for a bit more secluded feel, check out Napili Bay and Kapalua Bay. In the southwest, Wailea and Makena have great beaches. If you make it to the east coast, check out Paia (they hold many surf competitions) and Hamoa Beach. Hamoa was rated one of the top ten beaches in the world, but it is not easy to get to. The sand isn't the pertiest, but the waves are incredible and the setting is very secluded.
5. Polynesian culture. Try and experience some of the local music, arts, festivals, food. Every Hawaiian native I spoke with was incredibly friendly and they give off an aura of peace and joy that is quite noticeable. We did a luau and it was great for the food and entertainment, but it didn't feel that authentic.
6. Calvary Chapel, Westside. The church meets outdoors, right on the coast in Wahikuli Wayside Park, Lahaina. I can't imagine a more beautiful setting to gather together to worship God. The pastor, Steve Santos, is this laid back islander who teaches from the Word for 45min to an hour. It feels long if you're not used to it, but I was really encouraged by his messages.
7. Flora. The flowers and trees of Maui are breathtaking. I have never seen so many different colored flowers, without being in a botanical gardens. You don't have to go far to find the diverse plant life.
8. Food. The fresh fruit is absolutely delicious, but not as cheap as I anticipated. Pineapple, passion fruit, guava, mango, papaya, bananas...mmmmm. Meals are about as twice as expensive on Maui as in the Midwest, unfortunately, but the food is incredible. Three of my favorites: Aloha Mixed Plate in Lahaina (get the Mixed Plate or Kalbi ribs), Hula Grill on Ka'anapli (check out the coconut creme brulee), Old Lahaina Fish Company in Lahaina.
9. Photography. THe whole island is one big postcard, so take a big memory card for your digital camera!
10. The Road to Hana. The so-called "Most Beautiful Drive in the World" is a windy, narrow passage along the lush eastern coast and it doesn't disappoint. One piece of advice, all of the best stuff is at the end, so make sure you allot enough time to enjoy the stops near Hana. Allow an entire day, literally 12 hours. The most beautiful stops are Wainapapana State Park (black sand beach and brilliant blue water with camp sites), O'heo Gulch (aka, Seven Pools, a series of waterfalls and pools that you can swim in, right on the coast) and Hamoa Beach. Make sure to stop at one of the remote coconut vendors and instead of turning around and driving the road to Hana in reverse, take the 7 mile unpaved road around the southern coast and drive back up Route 37 to see the sunset. The drive after Hamoa beach was nearly my favorite part, because you feel like you are the only person on the island and the road is so narrow and all you see are cattle grazing on the Haleakala foothills to your right and the endless Pacific ocean to your left.
11. Haleakala summit. The crater looks like the surface of the moon, or so they say. Take a short hike down into the crater, bringing plenty of water, and get a closer look at the diverse colors of the crater's surface. It's so different than anything I've ever seen and so dry, but so beautiful.
12. Entertainment and the Arts. I totally dig pacific islander music and you can find some great venues to hear local artists. Kimos in Lahaina was a great find for listening to live music on Friday nights. Maui is a great place to find some beautiful artwork. Lahaina has myriad art galleries to peruse and on Friday nights some of the artists show up to paint.
13. Last, but not least, Hiking. I'ao Valley is a lush green, rainforesty, mountainous area to hike. Hiking on Haleakala or at certain points along the Road to Hana are beautiful as well.
I'm sure I am forgetting some obvious things, but then again, I doubt anyone made it all the way through my list anyways :) THe proof is in the pudding, so you'll just have to wait for my photos to be uploaded soon.