We’ve finally come to the last post in my Maui series!
If you’re just catching up, here’s what you’ve missed:
Maui – A Hawaiian Newbie in Kaanapali
Maui – The Eats
Maui – The Feast at Lele
Maui – The Road to Hana
So how about we get on with the show?!? I do after all, have to finish packing for my trip this afternoon to Oahu!!! See, there’s a reason I’ve been trying to knock these entries out the last couple of weeks!
That Time We Took a Vacation and a Hurricane Came to Visit
When we first left Vancouver I was aware that there were some storms in the Pacific but no mention of a hurricane at that time. When we flew out of Seattle (after spending a night at an airport hotel), I knew that the storms were getting much worse. But it was only once we got to Hawaii that Hurricane Iselle, followed by Hurricane Julio developed.
One of my most vivid memories of our first trip to Maui will always be listening to the news and hearing that Iselle was a Category 4!!!! Now, I had never been through a hurricane but I had watched “Twister” in the 90s and I knew that a 4 was bad!!! Like really bad!!! That was probably about the point at which the Husband turned to me and said, “Did you know that it would be like this!?!?!?” Ahahahaha! Granted, I knew it was hurricane season when I booked the trip but I also knew that hurricanes never hit Hawaii. Or so I was told.
As our time in Maui wore on, I tried to push thoughts of being a sitting duck in the middle of the Pacific out of my head, and instead concentrated on praying that Iselle would change direction or break up.
The day before the hurricane it became obvious that Iselle wasn’t going to change direction and was instead projected to pass directly over the Hawaiian Islands, starting with the Big Island before making it’s way to Maui. Mind you even before that was a certainty you started to hear mumblings around Kaanapali of people changing their flights so that they could fly out before either of the hurricanes hit.
We were scheduled to be there for Iselle but leave before Julio – and we decided we weren’t going anywhere. So the morning of the hurricane we woke up and headed out amidst the increasing wind to have breakfast nearby.
Originally our plan had been to go up to Haleakala to watch the sunrise that day but we passed on that given the newly issued flash flood warnings and unpredictability of the weather. I didn’t want us to be all exposed on top of Maui’s highest point if things went wrong. So instead we decided to rack up a boat load of Starwood Points by going to a timeshare presentation. We timed it so we would be doing that once the rain really started because really what else was there to do!
But before that point we decided to head to the pool and enjoy the last remaining rays of sun.
See the palm trees? The normally pleasant trade winds had kicked up and were becoming stronger by the minute. But we persisted in our luxuriating in the sun! HA!
Our hotel, the Westin Maui, was excellent I should add! Every couple of hours they would send letters to our room updating procedures and forecasts. And they would also update the electronic boards around the lobby. They even moved our lanai furniture inside before I had a chance do so as planned! I can honestly say I trusted that they had matters under control and was impressed by their preparations before hand, their calm amidst the chaos of the storm, and how quickly everything returned to normal after everything had passed!
As for our preparations . . .
We somehow decided we were going to make it through Iselle with four large bottles of waters, two very filling Pro Bars, and un-pictured box of chocolate covered macadamia nuts, and one orange! Ahahahah – I laugh every time I look at this picture!
Originally the hurricane had been expected to hit Maui in the early afternoon but we soon found out (through obsessive checking of Twitter and the Hawaii Aloha Travel Facebook Page) that Iselle had stalled over the Big Island and had consequently slowed it’s movement. Since we were hungry and it was still okay to go outside we headed down to the only restaurant open on the premises and placed an order. Then we found a dry place to wait the hour it took them to cook our food. By the way, God bless the people who worked that night! They were standing out in the rain, taking orders from guests who didn’t always exhibit the greatest amount of patience, in increasingly stressful and stormy conditions.
This is what it looked like at that point of the night. You can’t tell but it was pouring quite a bit.
And this was our hurricane dinner. I could tell you that it was a particularly bland $22 burger. But instead, I’ll tell you that I got through the evening of an impending hurricane by eating a giant Kobe beef burger. And that my friends, is nothing to complain about.
After dinner we went back to our room and hunkered down. There was nothing to do but wait at that point. The winds and rain were no joke and there was no sense going anywhere but our room.
For a bit, I tried listening to the news but the Husband convinced me that it would just stress me out unnecessarily. Since the hurricane had stalled over the Big Island for so long, it was going to hit Maui in the overnight hours. I went to sleep praying (there was a lot of praying) that we would make it through the night okay.
At one point, I woke up to discover that Iselle had just been downgraded from a hurricane and was instead a very strong tropical storm (think 70mph winds). I went back to sleep after more praying.
The last time I woke up that night it was right in the middle of the worst of it. I couldn’t help my curiosity and walked over to our balcony. Outside I could see objects flying by in the gusts of wind; I didn’t know what they were but I prayed that they were birds, and that nothing would come crashing through our window. I could also hear the same gusts of wind hitting our sliding glass patio door with incredible force.
After one last prayer, I went back to sleep.
Many hours later we awoke to calm winds, not even a drizzle, and THE most dramatic sunrise we saw during our entire time in Maui! <3
We had made it through the night, and the Husband wasted no time gobbling up the hurricane supplies! HA!
The Day After the Hurricane
As we got ready that morning we flipped on the morning news. They were warning everyone not to get out on the roads as there was some damage that needed to be cleaned up.
So at first we listened to them and wandered around Kaanapali with the tourists that had been brave enough to stay for Iselle, and weren’t yet on their way to the airport before Julio hit.
Curiously, the storm passing seemed to bring and end to the trade winds that kept Maui comfortable earlier during our trip. Instead, we were left with very humid weather and occasional drizzles. But since it sure beat the storm of the night before, no one seemed to mind!
After wandering around Kaanapali we decided to disobey the local officials and drive out to explore Lahaina. Besides eating poke, and the best spam musubi anywhere we also wandered around the empty historical centre of the town. It was quite something to see the remnants of the hurricane preparations, intermingled amidst the beautiful old buildings.
There’s something to be said for having a normally very busy tourist spot all to yourself!
Final Thoughts on Maui
After all the commotion of Iselle was over we didn’t have much time left on Maui. Just enough to enjoy one final glorious sunrise, eat some delicious Hula pie, lay by the pool one last day, hold a tropical parrot, eat some more Maui chips, and pack our bags to head home.
In the end, am I happy we went to Maui? Yes!!! Hurricane scare and all!!! It was a beautiful place, and I honestly felt more relaxed than I had in forever!
Would I recommend it to other travellers? Yes!!! But here’s the catch, if you’re usually a world traveller or someone that likes to be a bit of an adventurer expect a much more “safe,” and comfortable destination. You won’t feel the thrill of negotiating a different language or (for the most part) culture but you also won’t have to worry about your personal safety or cleanliness standards! That is in my opinion, what makes Maui an ideal family destination!
Would I do anything differently on a return trip to Maui? You bet! I would probably split my time between an area closer to Kaanapali and Hana! Also, I would probably consider renting a place that had access to a kitchen so I could at least have a place to slice up some of the glorious Maui Gold pineapples, or make myself some eggs in the morning. And lastly, I would hit up Haleakala to watch the sunrise as that is the one thing we didn’t get to do this time around.
And lastly, would I return to Hawaii? Absolutely! I’ll get right on that!
Question: Have you ever been on vacation and ended up being hit by an unexpected weather event? Have you ever been through a hurricane?