I spent the week before Christmas 2006 on the island of Maui in Hawaii. My wife was attending a conference at the Sheraton Maui and I tagged along to keep her company and to get a much needed break from work. The Sheraton turned out to be at one of the nicest locations in west Maui - just north of Lahaina on Ka'anapali beach. The snorkeling around Black Rock in front of the hotel was great.
I had never been to Hawaii before this and, to be honest, I never really thought much of it. My image of Hawaii seems to have been formed from 1970's TV shows and I was picturing something like the Brady Bunch vacation with Don Ho and tacky Luau's. Sure, there was a lot of that sort of thing there, but the natural beauty of Maui overshadowed all of that. I've never seen such an amazing environment and diversity of life. If you can ignore all the resort stuff around you, it's a pretty cool place.
In any event, I didn't do much adventuring. The goal for this trip was to sit on the beach and relax. I had been putting in some long hours at work and I was burned out. I spent the week relaxing, swimming, snorkeling and reading. With nothing to do but sit on the beach and read, I managed to get through two books: The Future of Life by E.O. Wilson and I Have Landed: The End of a Beginning in Natural History by Steven Jay Gould. I recommend both of them. The Future of Life is about biodiversity, why it's important, and what the future holds for us. The Steven Jay Gould book is another compilation of his essays mostly themed around topics in evolutionary biology.
Here some pics from the week:
This was a beach near Wailea. I forget the name of the beach, but it was pretty nice.
This was Oneloa (aka Makena aka "Big") Beach in south Maui. It was pretty spectacular.
Ka'anapali beach looking towards Molokai. I saw several whales from this beach. Humpback whales travel from Alaska to spend the winter season in the waters around Hawaii. The shallow waters between the islands of Maui, Lanai, and Molokai apparently have the largest concentration of these whales.
This one is in the Maui aquarium, but I saw a few sea turtles while snorkeling in the ocean. There are a few different kinds of sea turtles in Hawaii. I'm not sure what kind I saw. I think at least one of them was a Green turtle.
Christmas time in Hawaii was great. I'll be back.