Saturday 9 March 2013

Island Hopping, Camping Under the Stars and Swimming with Dolphins

We FINALLY used our trusty Timeshare for an island hopping adventure of a lifetime! For just $15 roundtrip for both me and my boyfriend, we took a ferry to a small island off of our island ;) and went camping for a night in Lana'i. We had our minds set on tents, hiking trails, and snorkeling, but the island had much more in store for us... it gave our lives a meaning!

Lana'i is quite the destination if you're trying to escape the busy tourist life of Lahaina's Front St. It's definitely a place where you can relax, rejuvenate, and unwind from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. From what we saw of the island, which wasn't much at all, I'd describe it as a vastly untouched tranquil piece of land, minus the construction workers. We set up camp by 8:30 AM on a beautiful camp ground right on the beach, after a 45 minute ferry ride from Lahaina, a gorgeous sunrise over maui, and tons of whales breaching all around us! As the ferry docked, all I could see were steep mountains and cliffs of lava like granite walls protruding out of the ocean like tidal waves. Approaching the campsite, bright banks of palm trees and perfect green lawns breathed out a heavy perfume of fresh cut grass.

We decided to throw on our swimsuits and make way for the beach... boy were we in for a surprise! Who would've thought we'd be swimming with pods and pods of spinner dolphins within the first minute of setting foot in this water?!? After watching their acrobatic displays, happiness rushed in like wind blowing a door wide open. I dove straight through that door and became a dolphin. And although our excitement only lasted a good 10 minutes this first morning, we spent a whole hour the next day swimming with these peaceful creatures! It was literally the most majestic, jaw dropping experience we have EVER had! I wanted to freeze that moment forever, the sounds of whistling, the slight splash of water, the laughter from Greg and I, the smell of springtime, the taste of salt water. I wish I could shut it in a locket, wear it around my neck, open it up and jump right back in whenever I could.

I spent that morning following the dolphins back and forth in the bay watching the reflections in the shimmering blue, thinking about myself swimming silently underwater like a fish in an aquarium. I drenched myself in their tenderness and serenity, as they circled me in the seamless blue sea, screaming. The ocean was like a white snow on a winter's day, one that I could go out and get lost in and forget the world.

Leaving the dolphins in peace was hard to do but all good things have endings. We were on the hunt for fresh findings! We climbed over lava fields, trekked through thorn covered sands and snorkeled tide pools and coral reefs, even swam in Mother Nature's hot tub, well at least I begged Greg to jump in and seize the treasures at the bottom! Finally, making our way around the corner, we discover a very distinct attraction rising from the seas off the coast of Lana'i, Puu Pehe, also known as Sweetheart Rock. We hiked below this massive lava boulder to an abandoned beach and were so in awe over it we later hiked it again! This time, to the top of the cliffs for a romantic sunset and dramatic view of Hulopoe Bay below.

Legend has it, this Sweetheart Rock got its name from two lovers, a Hawaiian maiden named Pehe from Lahaina, and a young warrior from Lanai named Makakehau. He was so taken with her beauty that whenever he laid eyes upon her they would mist up in tears. He was easily envious of the attention she got from other men, so he took her back to Lanai and hid her in a sea cave at the base of Manele’s cliffs. 

One day, while gathering supplies, he noticed a storm blowing in and decided to head back, only to find Pehe drowned by the surge of the storm waves. Stricken with grief, Makakehau gathered his beloved in his arms, cried out to the gods and his ancestors to help him climb the steep rock island where he eventually buried her. He then jumped from this 80-foot summit into the pounding surf below. 

That evening, in the long Pacific twilight, we were barefoot, on the edge of an island, in the middle of the ocean, drinks in our hands, taking in the moment, enjoying each others company, kneeling down trying to capture the perfect picture, with a slight breeze in our hair, watching the sun set, this time behind a different island. Then suddenly the moon rose, and we were back at the beach, under the stars, outlining our own constellations. There were so many that night, I identified mermaids and warriors, cave men and mythological creatures. The breeze came up making the palm trees flicker green and grey. The quietness, the solidness of the mountains, the scent of nature and the crackle of fire sweetened the air. It was as if I was living a dream, then I thought to myself, I did dream this, and I made every last inch of it a reality.

"Clouds don't come into our lives to bring rain or to usher storm, but to add color to our sunset skies."

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