This week on ‘Friendly Footprints’, Juwan talks to me about her time in Hawaii with her beautiful sisters and Mama (as she fondly calls her mom), to celebrate Mama turning 60.
How did you decide on Hawaii as a destination + which of its islands did you visit?
My mom was turning 60 two weeks before the trip, so my older sisters and I celebrated her early with an all-expenses paid trip to the place she’s always wanted to visit—Hawaii. It took a lot of back and forth to decide on an island and I wasn’t surprised because Lurit and Poni (my sisters) are very opinionated.
Lurit had already visited Big Island and Kauai so we counted those islands out. Eventually, we decided on Maui. I had generally heard good things about Maui from my coworkers and, from my own Googling, I learned that Maui was a senior-friendly island great for walking, sightseeing, and relaxing. Since Mama was officially a senior now (though always young at heart) and loved walking and beautiful scenery, Maui turned out to be a great choice!
Did you have any preconceived notions about the island before visiting + how did they change once you got there?
Hawaii was the place to go growing up. I’m pretty sure this was propaganda from Wheel of Fortune, Jeopardy, and all of the game shows my family used to watch. We raved as the TV displayed slow-motion videos of lush palm trees; clean baby blue waters, and glistening sandy beaches. This was my basic expectation of what Maui would be like.
While all of this was true, I was only caught off guard by the amount of driving that we had to do in Maui. I guess I thought that Maui would be more pedestrian-friendly outside of the resort.
Describe your experience to me in one word: Indulgent
What did you do first in Hawaii? I arrived a day after the rest of the ladies in my family, so they all picked me up from the airport. Funny enough, the first thing we did was drive to Walmart to pick up snacks and sandals for the beach. I didn’t know there were Walmarts in Maui. But then we went to a famous Maui chain for shaved ice called Ululani’s Hawaiian Shave Ice. I have a permanent sweet tooth and a minor ice addiction, so this was perfect. From there, we drove to our hotel at the Wailea Beach Resort – Marriott so I could unload my luggage and take a stroll along the beachfront.
You traveled with your family, what was that experience like?
If you know me, you know that Mama is my everything, the rock of my family, and she works much too hard. So I reveled in every chance to see her relax and smile on the trip and that, she did.
It was so great traveling with Mama and the girls! Lurit and Poni hardly vacation without planning an itinerary for the entire stay. I’m more inclined to lounge and relax on vacations, but I’m down to do or eat whatever the crew has planned, so that worked out well. Also, we didn’t fight much—worth noting because we’re still slightly surprised by the increasing days of peacefulness.
Above all, my sisters and I just wanted Mama to kick her feet up and enjoy! If you know me, you know that Mama is my everything, the rock of my family, and she works much too hard. So I reveled in every chance to see her relax and smile on the trip and that, she did.
What were your favorite things to eat, see and do in Hawaii?
The food I had in Maui was, overall, not very memorable. Everything that we did outdoors was pure enjoyment to me, and we did a lot! My favorite place had to be the Ali’i Kula Lavender farm. We walked around and picnicked there for a day, and I saw some of the most vibrant plants I’ve ever seen in my life. The resort was gorgeous as well, so simple walks during the day were nice. Poni and I rented paddle boards one of the days at the resort, which was exhilarating and slightly terrifying since I unintentionally floated out further than most people on the water at some point. And as a token of joy, there was a vibrant rainbow in the sky each day. That was for Mama!
I think there are few travels without embarrassing or cringe-worthy moments, do you have any from Hawaii that you’d like to share?
On the evening of the second day, the ladies and I were lounging outside before we got in the hot tub. We saw a few unoccupied cabanas overlooking the ocean as the sun was setting. Who wouldn’t claim them?! We thought they were fair game for all resort guests, but somehow we all (unintentionally) missed the chain links and posted signs that the cabanas were for rental. Oops! A Marriott employee soon had us on our merry way!
What aspects of Hawaiian culture did you experience and were there any similarities or differences to your own cultures?
Maui was adorned with tiki torches, pink-ish purple Orchid Leis, fresh air, stunning views, and yummy seafood. So utterly different from what I’m used to in California, and the stark differences made experiencing Hawaii all the more gratifying.
If you could rewind and relive your trip, what would you do differently?
If I had the power to rewind and relive the trip, I would also have the power to command the rain to stop on our Road to Hana day. Road to Hana is a 3 hour drive along the northern coast of Maui, excluding the various stops along the way to bask in the scenic hills and gleaming shoreline and even hike. As we were making our way along, the rain would not let up! We were able to stop for a short but adventurous hike on our way, but we ultimately turned around as the windy roads were making us a bit anxious with the downpour.
Once we are all able to travel safely and freely again where are you looking forward to visiting next?
I’d love to go to Mexico for the first time. I was supposed to go to Riviera Maya in May with my housemates, but the trip was cancelled for… obvious reasons. Bali is somewhere up there too!
I am one of those housemates – We will make up for that trip once it is safe. I thoroughly enjoyed this interview with Ju. What a sweet way to celebrate her Mama turning 60. Thank you Ju for sharing with me and everyone who’s reading! You can find Ju on Instagram here.
Thank you for reading!
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Are you a more relaxed, go-with-the-flow traveler or do you need to plan every last detail ? I’m more of the former. Share with me in the comments section!
Same footprints, Different sands