Connecting with the spirit of Hawaii begins and ends in
song. Your headset may be full of hula songs on the plane ride to Maui, but
once your feet are on the ground, the musical rhythm of the island seeps into
your heart and Hawaii has you.
The singer, Don Ho, first brought the Ukulele to celebrity
attention in the 1950’s. His songs, the sway of hula dances and Tiki statues
became a national obsession. That fame faded until the 70’s when the TV series,
Hawaii 5-0, brought the islands back into focus and more recently with the
re-creation of the series. A fancy for Ukulele never faded out of earshot
completely. Easy to carry, play and pack, the four strings are relatively
simple to tune and master. The late, beloved singer, Israel “Iz” Kamakawiwo'ole,
and his sweetly enduring rendition of Somewhere Over the Rainbow, is a favorite
across the globe attesting to the power of the little instrument.
Cherishing hula and heritage has been the focus of the
Napili Kai Foundation for decades on the island of Maui. Created as a
non-profit over 46 years ago, it began as a way to enrich the lives of the
children of employees at the Napili Kai Resort. The original resort was built
on a perfect, half moon bay at the end of a long gravel road, making it an
isolated livelihood for the staff. Today the bay shelters a trio of small
resorts, narrow roads lined with hide-away homes and some of the most inviting
waters on the island. The Foundation has been continuously connecting local
kids with their heritage and giving them opportunities for higher education. The
songs enrich lives, not only of the Keiki, West Maui’s children, but of
visitors coming to the Resort from around the world as every Tuesday evening there’s
a hula performance in the Napili Kai Aloha Pavilion.
The melodies make the perfect companion for the drive up to
the crater of Haleakala, which translates to “The House of the Rising Sun.” It’s
a dark and slow ride to reach the crater before dawn. The prevailing wisdom is
to leave no later than 3 am, depending on where you’re staying on the island. The
steep road up to the rim winds through groves until switchbacks take you above
the tree line. Once you pull into the summit parking lot, bundle up and find a
place amongst the crowds who gather daily, weather permitting, to watch the
first rays of the sun crest above the far rim and creep slowly across the dark
crater below. If you’re lucky, Park Ranger Nan will burst into a Hawaiian chant
about the power of Pele, the volatile goddess of volcanoes, as the sun’s light
pushes higher and to the west where you may see the shadow of Haleakala
outlined on the clouds.
There’s one more powerful song that you won’t find on the
radio, at the crater or in performances – whale song and Maui’s waters are full
of them for a good part of the year. Divers and snorkelers hear them often as
they explore the half submerged crater of Molokini, two miles offshore. Pele
may have had a hand in the volcanic rise, a ‘tuff’, that is a morning magnet
for water lovers when the trade winds are calm. The inner crater is shallow and
a haven for huge parrot fish, schools of tiny, darting patterns and friendly
feeding angel fish. The outer rim is a steep drop off to depths beyond any tank
dive and slipper lobster hide amidst undulating corals while sharks doze in
crevices. Often a call will softly creep into consciousness. If you’re very
fortunate, its source will glide into view and you will witness one of the
largest creatures on the planet, a Humpback Whale. Each year from late December
through mid-April, they migrate from Alaska’s arctic to the warm waters of
Hawaii, to calve, mate and rear their young. The spectacle of them breaching
and splashing is unforgettable and while their whale song is inspiring, the one
they instill in your heart will last forever.
Which one of Maui’s songs speaks to you?
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Elaine is constantly in motion. She's called most of the major cities along the U.S. west coast home and travels or scuba dives as often as possible (Her latest passport is almost out ofpages.) The one constant has been writing and she's contributedto numerous publications and blogs as well as her own,TripWellness.com. Flytime Yoga was founded through her yoga practice, including a session at 30,000 feet on a dive trip flight to Fiji. Her Indie Excellence award-winning Drivetime Yoga techniques have helped RV and bus drivers, police officers andother travelers get where they're going feeling great atDrivetimeYoga.com. She podcastsThe Gathering Roadweekly and brings authors and experts together with travelers at monthlyTravel Well meetupsin San Diego. Follow Elaine onLinkedIn,Pinterest,Facebook,TwitterandGoogle Plus.
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