What My Soothing Maui Holiday Instructed Me

Don’t hate me, but I just got back from a really relaxing* Hawaiian vacation. *Let’s be clear — “relaxing” probably doesn’t hold quite the same meaning for me as it does for a lot of other people. This was pretty clearly evidenced by the fact...

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Don’t hate me, but I just got back from a really relaxing* Hawaiian vacation.

*Let’s be clear — “relaxing” probably doesn’t hold quite the same meaning for me as it does for a lot of other people. This was pretty clearly evidenced by the fact that every time I met someone and talked about what I’d done that day, I’d get the same reaction: “You’re so … active!” Sometimes it was said with admiration, often with a look of confusion, like they really wanted to ask me whether I was aware that I could have fruity frozen drinks delivered to me poolside. (Oh, I’m aware. Don’t you worry.)

Now, this wasn’t my usual active vacay. Normally, I do massive amounts of planning (as you may recall) — I love finding the best places to hike or run trails, and I’m always seeking out adventures that test my limits. But this trip was different. I went with my husband because he had a few days of sales meetings in Maui and the company offered to fly out spouses and partners, too (score!). We had several days to ourselves, and then I had a few days when I was more or less on my own, and we were doing the whole thing on a budget — so no car, no guided tours, no pricey adventures.

Or, at least none to which I couldn’t walk or take the local bus. Happily, it turns out that an FBG can still find plenty of ways to get active (and get her adrenaline pumping) in and around Lahaina. I surfed, I paddleboarded, I swam, and I jumped off a really, really big rock. It was hard! It was terrifying! It. Was. Awesome.

Over the course of my Maui adventures, I learned a few lessons that I thought were worth sharing. And I’d love to hear whether any of them ring true for you in the comments! maui oceanFile this one under “Things I maybe should’ve read before doing 18 different types of ocean-related activities and getting knocked on my ass repeatedly.”

Patience is seriously a virtue. I learned a lot about surfing on this trip, but the biggest lesson was to be patient. Be patient entering the water (because otherwise you will get knocked on your keister over and over and that’s how you end up with huge, hideous bruises all over your legs. Ask me how I know.). Be patient getting out of the water (because getting beached and thrown off your board due to poor exit timing has the same result as entering the water at the wrong time). Be patient choosing your wave (because otherwise you’ll wear yourself out by paddling after every wave that looks surfable, and by the time a decent one comes along, you’ll be too tired to do anything about it).

Can’t see the photo above? Click here.

You can do just about anything with the right support. I have a crippling fear of heights. Like, I have trouble climbing step ladders. Going out on certain balconies take real effort. But our hotel was right down the beach from the world-famous Black Rock, and while I knew it would be really frightening, I also knew that jumping from the top — which many people do, every single day — was something I wanted, or maybe even needed, to do. maui black rockSkeptical AF. Jared’s all, “Smile for the camera!” and I’m just like, “Yes, yes, I’m smiling. BUT WE ARE VERY HIGH IN THE AIR AND ALSO DO YOU SEE THOSE PEOPLE JUMPING FROM THE TOP OMG I WILL DEFINITELY DIE UP HERE BECAUSE I CANNOT MOVE.”

Jared, my husband, knew how hard it would be for me and, since he’d done it before on a previous trip, he told me right off the bat that he would do whatever he could to help me (including supporting me if I chose to back out). We snorkeled first (and saw turtles!!!), then he led the climb up, waiting patiently every time I got stuck and took five minutes to take a single step, and once we reached the top, he literally held my hand and helped me with my balance prior to the jump. Leaping off that cliff (yes, it’s totally a cliff) was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, and I don’t know that I’ll ever do it again, but I’m so, so glad I did it — and I don’t think I would’ve been able to alone.

Can’t see the video above? Click here.

When you’re open to new possibilities, you get so much more out of any adventure. My plan was to learn to surf. I figured, hey, I’m athletic and I’ve got a week. I’ll rent a board for a few days, maybe take a lesson or two and be killing it by the time I left. Well, spoiler alert: I’m not good at surfing. I caught some waves, was somewhat able to stand up a couple of times, but between my lack of experience with any board sports (I don’t ski, skateboard, wakeboard, anything) and having less than stellar knees, it never completely clicked. I’m great at paddling and rather adept at falling, though, so if you want a lesson on any of that, you just let me know.

However, I still loved it. I loved being out on the water. I loved watching (and reading) the waves, paddling around and looking at the sea life swimming around below (I saw turtles, guys!), and I loved the camaraderie I experienced with some of the other people out there learning to surf alongside me. And I realized that even though I didn’t exactly reach the goal I’d had in mind, I was coming away with just as incredible an experience. I’m so glad I didn’t let myself get too hung up on not being “good” at it, you know?

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Other important Maui lessons:

  • Save your frozen drink purchases for happy hour. You will save SO MUCH MONEY.
  • Always watch for rainbows. They’re everywhere.
  • POG is delicious. It has really has no redeeming nutritional qualities, but it’s so tasty in mimosas, as a splash with vodka soda, or just as a quick, sweet sip to start the day.
  • Seeing sea turtles swimming by your board or whale spouts off in the distance never gets old. At least, not over the course of a week.
  • There is a reason surfers tend to be hella fit. Like, I’m still sore and I haven’t been out in days.
  • If you ever have the option to do an unlimited board rental (ours was through 1-800-Snorkel, FWIW), do it — it really made a huge difference to be able to go out at my leisure vs. feeling like I had to get as much as I could out of a two-hour rental.

What do you prefer on vacation? Do you like to have activities scheduled out when you travel, or does this type of trip, where you make decisions on the fly, appeal more to you? —Kristen

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