One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.
This birthday trip to Hawaii was meaningful and remarkable for me, not only because my whale dream came true, but also because I learned what happens when I travel and seek a new adventure. During this trip, many of my original plans were interrupted due to the coronavirus outbreak, but I am proud of myself that I made changes and had amazing experiences. When your plans are interrupted, what do you do? For me, I will always find a way to learn about new places and have new experiences. It proves the outcome can still be wonderful even when your plans change.
People often say “It is the journey, not the destination” to describe The Road to Hana in Hawaii. The journey includes 600+ turns, 50+ one-lane bridges and occasional rock or mudslides. There is breathtaking scenery and amazing stops along the road: its cliffs are cloaked in green, and lush valleys burst with waterfalls; curves hug the coastline and you gaze over an ocean that stretches uninterrupted all the way to the Alaskan coastline. It is all coupled with black, red, and white sand beaches, a multitude of trails and beautiful gardens. So I put this at the top of my top to do in Maui, and I was very excited, anticipating the drive to Hana to see the rainforest beauty and inspiring coastal views.
Unfortunately, due to the coronavirus outbreak, the parks on the island were closed and the tour was canceled. I was not surprised that this would happen, however, and I immediately changed my plans. I instead chose to take a helicopter to see Hana instead. I was lucky to take the last helicopter tour before it shut down. I indeed experienced an even more epic sightseeing and thrilling adventure from the sky, revealing why Maui is continually rated “The world’s best island”. Now let me help you witness the unique Hana and Haleakala from another angle.
When I rode in the helicopter, a sea of clouds, green mountains and blue ocean came into view. I could not believe these things were real in front of my eyes. It is too incredible to describe and very close. At that moment, I truly felt that I almost could touch this unbelievable scenery. I could feel that Maui is truly a magical place.
Soar thousands of feet above the immense, moon-like crater of Haleakala — the world’s largest dormant volcano! My original plan was to drive to watch the stunning sunrise over the crater walls at the Haleakala summit at 5:30 AM. Although it did not happen, I still witnessed its impressive views from the sky: the clouds above the crater, along with beautiful reds, yellows and grays of volcanic soil.
The highest point of Haleakala is 10,023 feet high. Although I did not hike there and see blankets of clouds below my feet, I saw another unique view of Haleakala. At that moment, I felt so appreciative that I could have this incredible life experience.
The helicopter allowed me to gaze down at the beautiful Hana Rainforest Preserve on my way to the famous Seven Pools of Oheo Gulch, where bamboo trees line the forest and dozens of waterfalls cascade into the tiered pools below. I could see the Alpine-like vistas of upcountry to the lush landscape of the Hana Rainforest Preserve and the rugged beauty of East Maui shoreline.
As you might know, Hawaii is known as the “Rainbow State” because of the many brilliant rainbows that often appear, arching over valleys or beaches. At the beginning of my trip, I expected to see double rainbows across the ocean. In fact, during the whole trip, I did not see it happen. However, the magical thing is that when I rode in the helicopter, through the Hana, the rain drizzled, then transformed to sun, and Wow, I was lucky that I then saw a rainbow in the sky above the Hana Forest Reserve! The rainbow seemed very close to me, as if just a few feet away, so close I thought I could almost touch it.
I knew that the rainbow primarily represents transformation in Hawaiian culture. It is believed, too, that those who can connect to the spirit and “upper” world will live abundant lives as humans. This new experience taught me that the world will present you with opportunity and wants everyone, not just the brave people, to achieve success.
As you might know, I enjoy snorkeling to meet varieties of marine creatures in the ocean. Maui is home to a multitude of amazing snorkeling locations to explore, full of interesting reef formations and lava fingers boasting remarkable ocean wildlife. So when I planned this birthday trip, I decided to do snuba on March 20th, which is my birthday. I wanted to see the most striking marine species and beautiful coral reefs at Molokini Crater, and swim with turtles at Turtle town, experiencing world-class ocean wildlife in Maui. I was looking forward to this special experience to celebrate my big day.
Again unfortunately, they canceled my activity due to COVID-19. Although I was disappointed, I made another, even better decision instead. I thought this would be an amazing opportunity to sunbathe and get to know nature and reflect upon myself, to relax and see the natural beauty around me. So I decided to enjoy this precious solo time on the beach. I went to the Ho’okipa Beach, and life yet again let something magical happen to me: I enjoyed the breezes of the ocean, witnessed professional windsurfing there, and all worries melted away. The most surprising thing is that I got to meet my other special guests: turtles. Once again, life used another way to help me to achieve my wishes.
Another part of my original plan was to go to The Big Island (Hawaii Island) after Maui. Due to all activities canceled at this tough time, I decided to cancel The Big Island trip in the end. Hey, The Big Island, it is not goodbye, it is see you soon, instead!
Travel changes everything! Many people travel and only look for the familiar. However, life does not always follow your plan. Travel is not always perfect, either. This is a good lesson because learning happens when you travel and seek out what is different. Sometimes, a new experience is even better than your original plan, it just makes the experience that much more amazing. Life begins at the end of your comfort zone, so push yourself out of your comfort zone. I hope you can seek out the difference and enjoy new experience, too, in your future travels!