July 29, 2012

Dear Waylon: Where Maui Will Take You. ~ Keenan Baxter

Photo: Flickr/Dov Harrington

Aloha, Waylon.

In the Hawaiian language, the word Aloha has a dual meaning, which varies depending on the context in which it is used. It is a hello—as well as a goodbye.

I find myself embodying both meanings when I say to you Aloha, Waylon. I am greeting you with enthusiasm, while vicariously anticipating the brink of your Hawaiian adventure and also wishing you Aloha as you depart from the kingdom you’ve created for yourself in our distinct, yet, comparable city of Boulder.

You will find yourself departing from this thin-aired perch we call home and journeying to where the sand meets the sea and the beach meets your desire for rejuvenation. Leaving, in order to put a pause on the vibrations of a life full of hard work and constant activity, which make ripples in our community and in our minds.

You will be arriving at a place where that energy will simply be put to the restful reorganization of the cogs of your mind and body. Both of which are in need of a beach—and the taste of ocean salt on the lips, while the eye indulges upon a natural beauty that leaves the soul anew, with waves returning the foot-printed sand to its original form.

Maui is the place that I am speaking of and it is very dear to my heart. In the twelve consecutive years that I have been so fortunate to visit, I have experienced many of its treasures—and I hope to share them with you here. I’d like to begin with the simple things that I wish you to be conscious of when you arrive:

The whoosh of damp warmness that embraces you as you first step out of the stale, recycled air of the jet plane, for starters.

Bookmark the memory of the first time you exercise in Maui; you will feel like you have lungs of an Olympian, as you discover that the air is far more abundant, enriching your red blood cells with the oxygen that they’ve learned to function without, in our mile-high state.

Make sure to remember the moment when you dive into the ocean after the workout and the silkiness of salt water that has been warmed by the sun. Experience what it would be like to be a cork in water, as the salty buoyancy allows you to lounge and float with ease.

You will always remember the first wave you catch on a surfboard, the feeling of commanding the force of the sea while skipping over water and the delight that it brings. You will experience all of these simple treasures, in addition to all of those unique to your experience alone.

If you find yourself hungry after the infusion of salt, sea and air, I suggest that you visit a small town called Paia. There, you will find my favorite place to eat: the Paia Fish Market, a hole-in-the-wall restaurant that serves, by far, the best fish on the island.

You are a curious man, I know and so if you would like to venture a distance from where you are staying, it is imperative that you visit Merriman’s, a restaurant that serves fresh, local organic, fine cuisine. What makes this place a must isn’t its food though; rather, it’s the view from the restaurant’s deck, named The Point, which is unparalleled. While on The Point, you will be surrounded by ocean, with only natural lava rock below you. This provides the island’s best sunset dining experience.

Seeking something more casual and accessible? Then I recommend my favorite sushi restaurant, Sansei—make sure to go during their happy hour because you’ll get world-class sushi at its best price!

Once you’ve sampled some of the best food on the island, you may be ready for some adventure.

If you’d like to avoid the touristy, full day trip to Hana, yet you would still like to experience the natural beauty and waterfalls of Hawaii, I suggest you visit Twin Falls. This hike will be reasonably close to you, as it lies at the beginning of the road to Hana.

When you arrive, do try all the amazing, fresh-picked fruit and homemade snacks made by the people who run a small stand at the beginning of the trail. Then, proceed to the three different waterfalls located at the end of the beautiful but relatively easy hike.

Want to hop on a surfboard and learn how to hang-ten?

My favorite beginner-friendly surf places are a bit of a drive from you but are well worth it. Kaanapali Beach is the best place to surf and hang out (look for my favorite spot in front of the Marriott) and there are numerous surf schools where you can rent a board and surf decent waves. Kaanapali Beach is also rated as one of the best beaches in the world by the Travel Channel.

But Maui has many other beaches that you must visit as well.

Makena Beach is closer to where you’re staying and is absolutely breathtaking, with great bodyboarding waves, while Napili Bay is one of the best places to snorkel, as well as Black Rock, which is also close by.

The places I’ve mentioned are all places I swear by and have visited every year, for a good part of my life.

If there is one thing I would like you to remember while exploring Maui, it is to never allow yourself to see the same sunset twice.

This will keep the beauty of sites alive in your heart so that they don’t become a novelty that’s like an overlooked, dusty painting on the wall of your memory. 

See every moment with new eyes and fresh appreciation, because not one sight in Hawaii lacks its own distinct beauty…and it’s up to you to find these mystical subtitles in your experience.

Mahalo Waylon,




Keenan Baxter is currently attending the Metropolitan State University of Denver. He is an aspiring entrepreneur, and is currently working on multiple freelance projects.




Editor: Bryonie Wise

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