“Not all those who wander are lost.” – J.R.R. Tolkien
I'm all for itineraries. Making sure you list and understand what it is that you want out of a trip. What are the "must see" and "must do" events and sights that will let you look back and appreciate what you've done. What you've experienced. No question.
And you've also got to insert some time for the unexpected, the unplanned. A trip somehow goes awry, and you've got to build in a bit of a buffer to make sure that once something goes sideways, the rest of the trip can proceed from that point. We've encountered numerous challenges ranging from simple transport cancellations -- I say simple, but this can have a significant impact on schedules -- to medical emergencies. None of which you want or expect, but you need to be prepared, and also take the steps to make sure you're covered when all Hell breaks loose.
Okay. Enough about schedules and plans and contingencies.
What happens when you get to a day you've reserved, and you've got time to play? In some cases, it's just a pleasure to grab your towel and head down to the beach or pool and stop for a while. We did this in St. Barth, spending a full four hours sitting on our bungalow patio enjoying the tropical breeze blowing across our faces and watching the various people come and go on the beach. Not too often you get an opportunity to stop and just enjoy a place (though some people make this exactly the sort of trip by design). But when you're on an adventure, and most trips are an adventure of some kind, people like me want to fill it up with as much activity as possible. (What's the point of going somewhere if you're going to sit and stare at the wall?)
So. Last year one of our destinations was Hawaii. I've noted several of the highlights in previous essays, particularly those which were on my NOW list or were in some other way a special event. We visited Maui and the Big Island, and for the most part had things planned out and with specific activities along the way.
But one day we found ourselves with limited plans, mainly involving the evening. No sailing, no snuba, no tours, lunches, shopping, gallery-hopping, beaches, etc. So what do you do? We rambled a bit, met our friends for a late breakfast. They mentioned that on a previous visit to Maui they had driven the north coast of the island.
|A place where the "honor system" still holds true|
Now, anyone who has ever rented a car on Maui will tell you they got maps and other things that suggest that the north shore of Maui is reportedly offroading, and not permitted by your rental contract. (This is one of the reasons we usually rent Jeeps when in Hawaii.) Our friends insisted that not only is the route passable, but it's paved the entire way. Narrow in places, and steep inclines down to rocky shoals in others, but for the most part a relatively smooth and passable road. Plus there are a few galleries and towns that are off the beaten path, which, of course, immediately got our interest peaked.
So, unplanned, uncoordinated, here are shots from our little journey into the parts of Maui most people never go. Most tourists avoid, in fact, but most travelers seek out. Away from the resorts. Away from the shopping. Away from the four and five-star restaurants. It's not quite as remote as Hana, but it's just as fun and just as interesting.
BTW - A couple of things you should absolutely do...
|Rolling into town|
In the small town of Kahakuloa (roughly half way between the north end of Kaanapali and the eastern side of the mountain Kahalui) is a small fruit stand right next to the side of the road at a curve. It's strictly a shack, but it's usually teeming with visitors. The fruit is fresh, and the snacks are perfect for a mid-point stopover along the trek.
|Kahakuloa from the roadway up the hill|
STEVE AND CHRISTINE TURNBULL SCULPTURE GARDEN AND STUDIO
|Steve Turnbull working on a dragon|
|Sculpture in the garden|
Take the time to get out and get away from your formal itinerary. Get some time to explore, to get off the beaten path. See things as they are. Not as the tourists are shown, but as the locals perceive their world. It's amazing how rewarding even a brief afternoon out on the open road can be for giving you a better feel, a better understanding of where you are and what kind of place it really is.
|Off the beaten path|