Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Adventures in Maui: Beach Please!

Three of My Favorite Maui Beaches
#3 Mile Marker 14 / Olowalu
There are plenty of shade trees to sling your hammock under at this beach. This is a wonderful boon to pale-folk such as myself. I snorkeled until my sunscreen alarm went off and then sat out under the shade trees to reapply.

It is very easy to get to. Right along the side of the road. Look for the mile marker sign and at mile 14 stop and park. Orient yourself to the sign! Straight across from it is the sand bar that will take you out so you don't get stuck!

One of the drawbacks to such shallow water is that it is possibly, very easily possible, to get stuck out there. Be careful snorkeling between the corals as the current may push you into them. Don't touch the corals!
The big channel is straight out from the mile marker, so when you first get to the beach, look back to check your location and then look out at the water itself and notice the different colors to see where the light path is. Stay on the light path as you go out. It should feel pretty straight.

The coral there is fairly brown and some is bleached out - but there are Convict Tang and Butterfly Fish out there. I also spotted some Moorish Idols and Bird Wrasse.

If you do plan to check out this beach - know that there are only porta-johns for facilities so plan accordingly. I'd also suggest bringing extra bottled water to rinse off with and leaving your sandals on - the trees have LARGE thorns. Most of the ones on the lower branches seem stripped off, but new ones from the top branches fall naturally and you wouldn't want one in your foot!

#2 Ulua Bay - This small beach has lots of people, full facilities with bathrooms, showers, and benches. If you are a person with special needs or if you have little children would be a great beach to check out. Parking if you aren't a resort visitor can be somewhat difficult to find as the public lot is very small and fills up fast. There is also less shade at this beach so go earlier in the morning to get a good spot and remember to wear your sandals as the thorn trees drop needles into the soft sand in the limited shady areas.

There are lots of little fish close to the shore at this beach. It felt like a fish nursery of sorts. Even just walking in and standing still in the water I could see little baby fish schooling about my knees. It was so much fun! I found Moorish Idols, Spotted Boxfish, and Yellow Trumpetfish in the clear water. There were also some Humu's (Reef Triggerfish) and baby Butterfly fish swimming about in the reef.

As for snorkeling - there really is only one large section of reef at this beach so be prepared to share the space with lots of other folks unless you go there in the morning. There were scuba teams starting up when I was visiting so occasionally something large and black would be swimming beneath me and out of the corner of my eye. Fairly frightening the first couple of times but I got used to it with so many of them around. That said, the coral shelf is beautiful and more vibrant than the one at Mile Marker 14.

#1 Honolua Bay - Chickens!! OMG chickens! I'm a big fan of chickens and Honolua Bay has plenty of these feathered friends.

Check the surf report before you go as this is an either / or beach. If the surf is too high the visibility is too low and the surfers claim the beach for the waves. Great for surfers, not so great if you wanted to snorkel.

This is also a harder beach to find but once you do you are rewarded with a lush rainforest path leading from the pull-out along the road down a vine-covered trail to a rocky coast. No sand here. No facilities except a questionable porta-john. Perhaps those reasons are why it was one of the least populated beaches we visited.

We came back to this beach again and again. Sturdy sandals, lots of extra water and snacks, and reed mats made it a more comfortable location. I loved listening to the roosters crow and watching the hens scratch the ground so all the little chicks could run in and peck the freshly uncovered earth. Cheep cheep! So cute!

The current was fairly strong and again, no sand, so getting smashed against the rocks in the shallows or pulled out from the bay if you go too far can be a potential hazard. This is not what I'd call a beginner-friendly beach like Ulua. Strong swimmers and experienced divers or snorkelers would do better out here. I suggest swimming out a bit as fast as you can to avoid the rocks and then putting on fins and a mask while treading water.

Right along the coast can be very murky but, once you get out into the depths, it tends to clear up quite a bit. The reef is beautiful with lovely colors and lots of fish. I spotted a huge baitball of tiny silver sardine-sized fish (not actually sure what type of fish they were) and it was amazing to watch them in person. I'd seen bait balls on tv, but seeing one in person is an entirely different experience. It was disorienting and mesmerizing and completely wonderful and very frightening all at the same time.

I spotted Racoon Butterfly fish, Ornate Butterfly fish, Bluespine Unicorn fish, Reef Trigger fish, Yellow Trumpet fish, bright little Christmas Wrasse, and huge and rainbow-colored male Redlip Parrotfish. There was also a beautiful spotted Moray Eel longer than I am tall free-swimming along the reef while being pestered by some other fish who it had apparently disturbed in some way. It ducked into a crack in the reef and coiled its body into the little cave to avoid the fish. Once they had left, it brought its head back out from the cave and stayed there for quite some time - mouth just slightly open, needle-like teeth smiling, as its head waved side-to-side with the current.

There were also some more aggressive fish in the bay. I'm not sure what type they were - flat, silver, oval-shaped fish about the size of two computer screens or a medium-sized dog. They repeatedly swam up and got uncomfortably close to me, spooking me behind my back or swimming up right behind my head to look me right in the eye. I suspect possible fish feeding...please don't feed the fish!

Also - Never Stand on a Reef! While out snorkeling one day a man from one of the tour boats decided it would be a good photo opportunity to stand on the reef. This was not acceptable and several people shouted at the man to get off the reef which, hopefully, embarrassed him and he'll never do it again - but it was still an injury to the reef. Standing on, touching, or purposely breaking off bits of reef for souvenirs hurts the reef and kills coral colonies. They are already stressed out enough -
please look, but don't touch.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Adventures in Maui: Snorkeling Olowalu

I've been doing some snorkeling at Olowalu beach right at mile post 14 on the west side of Maui. The water is shallow, I mean scratch yourself against coral shallow, but there are lots of little fish nurseries and a large variety of creatures to find if you look around. The first time I went there were waves and I got a little nervous about getting trapped in the shallow coral. After getting scratched on my hand I decided to head for the sand and just watch the fish from the beach for a bit. 

Coral is not something you ever want to touch. First - it is bad for the coral. Second - it is razor sharp. You'll be cut to ribbons before you even notice. Third - coral is made of a bunch of tiny living things, things you don't want in an open wound. By the time bits of broken coral make it to the shore they have been polished near smooth, but living coral? Don't touch!

I went out again to mile 14 on a calmer day and the snorkeling was much better. There were so many fish! Still, I was wary of getting too close to any coral and preferred to stay in the deeper waters on the edges of the coral rather than trying to float above the large tables of reef. 

Pictures below!

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Adventures in Maui: Make-up Bag

Heading out to Maui soon and so excited!

Today I got news that whales are passing by near the place I’ll be staying at. Very exciting! I hope that they’ll stay in the neighborhood just for a few more days so I get to see them in person. In the meantime, I’m packing up, wrapping up, and getting ready to go!
Last post I said I’d share my beach-friendly makeup bag with you, so let’s take a look!

I plan to spend most of my time in or on the water so I’ll be wearing reef-safe sunscreen and a snorkel mask most of the day. That doesn’t mean I’ve completely resigned myself to frizzy hair photos and sunburn. These are my go-to items for taming the frizz, detangling tresses, and managing my mane : Organix’s Moroccan Argan hair oil, Bed Head’s After Party smoothing and frizz control serum, and Bumble and Bumble’s Surf Infusion texture spray. If I’m going to be tough to my hair – like hanging out in the surf and sand all day, I like to add extra hair oil to my tips and ends at night and then wrap my hair loosely in a top-knot to let the oil soak in overnight.  

I made my own hair ties with an old pair of tights (instructable HERE) so I have plenty of hair ties that won’t break or snag my hair. I’ll also use some mini claw clips, but I’m skipping the hairpins. It is vacation.

For face, my very pale and freckle-prone face, I use Skinceuticals Physical Matte UV Defense tinted sunscreen. It is SPF 50 but feels fairly light and dries matte not greasy. It costs a bit more, but I wore it in Mexico and managed to avoid a sunburn or the freckles that would otherwise show up all across my nose and cheeks. The tint is a little dark for me – but I just use less and blend in well and it works. If you have medium toned skin it would be perfect.

I also love and have been a long-time user of Benefit’s They’re Real mascara. I use the mini set since mascara shouldn’t be kept for more than 3 months anyways. Price per oz is generally higher for these mini items, but if I bought larger sizes I’d have to make a higher initial investment and still end up throwing out a majority of the product. With the mini I do indeed pay slightly more per oz, but still much less than a full-sized product. I also use more of it – so less wasted. And, lastly but most importantly, I’m not tempted to keep it around longer in a misguided attempt to use all the product (must not waste it!) while putting myself at greater risk of eye infection.

For lips – I’ve been grooving on TonyMoly’s lip tint in Red. It stains the skin and so stays on all day and won’t smudge or weep. It will bleed if fresh and put on too thick, so I usually do just a drop in the center of my lower lip and then blend out with my pinkie. It is super quick, goes on under some SPF chapstick and stays on all day in the water or out. The only issue I have is sometimes I use my pinkie finger to blend and then the tip of my pinkie is red all day :-/ Tradeoffs.

That’s pretty much it! I have a solid perfume from Lush and a night crème to help my skin heal from any stray sun exposure – but I’m keeping my bag light for this trip. Maui isn't someplace where I can't get a bar of soap or facewash so I don't see the point of packing 2 week supplies of lotion soap or toner. The items I'm bringing with me are just the ones I do have a little trouble finding, that are easy to transport, and that I wouldn't be as happy without.

What are your must-have items for travel beauty?

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Adventures in Maui : Preflight

I'll be heading off to Maui for the first time ever in just a few days!

Of course, I never bring checked luggage, even for a 2 week trip, so my capsule wardrobe must be able to adapt to just about any situation. There will be water activities - swimming, sailing, snorkeling; casual activities - hiking, biking, walking; and formal activities - luau, dinners out, family excursions. My bag has to hold clothing for all of it.

So - without much ado, my 2 weeks in Hawaii capsule wardrobe!


My dress is wrinkle-resistant and flowy, but it is a thin fabric that packs down into a large sandwich bag and from there I can squeeze all the air out of it.

I'm bringing 4 swimsuits. More than I expect to really need, but the one that it like a t-shirt is really good for snorkeling without getting a burn and I can wear it as a sport tank as well. I also hate getting into a wet swimsuit - so if anything this is my space splurge. I also like having different types of tops and bottoms to help balance out the sun burn I'm fully expecting to receive.

Tanks - 'cause layering. I like to get the same basic type and then just have it in different colors. It makes packing easy because all the clothes fold to exactly the same shape and size.

A sport tee for hiking and higher elevations and a sweater for the same things. I'm also always cold on airplanes so I'll probably wear the sweater on the plane and save the storage space.

Two skirts (skorts actually) and a pair of shorts and a pair of leggings. I love skorts because...well, they are cute shorts really. I'll also be wearing the leggings with the shorts on top for the flight so they won't be actually in my carry-on either.

Sanuk sandals and my Skechers for walking around.

Panache sports bra - best sports bra I've ever found. Seriously.

Travel cosmetic bag (I'll do another "inside my bag" post just for that) and credit card / IDs.

Skivves. I've been really enjoying Adore Me lately.

Basic jewelry - keeping in the same color range as the rest of my clothes and nothing too expensive. I made the mistake of wearing a beautiful set of earrings in the ocean once...once. :-(

Sunglasses - two pairs. I'd hate to lose one, but just in case, I bring a back up. They are prescription from Zenni.

Lesportsac bag for travel. I always use this bag for travel. Found it at the thrift shop and I love it to pieces. It won't blend in like a black purse would so I'm less likely to leave it. It can do cross body or over the shoulder with a wide adjustable strap. It has plenty of pocket space without being too big and all the pockets are zippers so I can secure things a little better.

That should cover just about everything  - dress for more formal events and I can add the sweater if the wind picks up. Sweater, shorts, and leggings for the sunrise hike and I can remove layers as the day goes on. Skorts and tanks for hiking. Shorts and t-shirt for bike riding and off-road adventures.

To breeze through security I always skip wearing jewelry on flight days. I wear slip-on shoes with socks, stretchy clothes without zippers or buttons, an empty water bottle that I fill up after security and then drink religiously to stay hydrated and I organize my purse, carry-on, and cosmetic bag for easy inspection.

Do you have any advice on going to Maui? Any favorite spots to share or tips for dealing with the flight?

Happy travels!