The Gap Year: Maui

As I’m sure you’ve surmised by now, The Gap Year was all about travel. Over that year, I tried out a few different times and a few different formats in attempts to capture my trips, but none of them stuck. I tried to start a travel blog, I tried to photo journal, but nothing felt right. But this space is really helping me to map out what formats I enjoy, what topics I feel I can write about, and how to best organize them all.

I don’t want this blog series to be just about the physical trips. The locations matter a lot; each trip was to a significant place. But what matters more for me was what I got from these trips. Every place left me with a different lesson, insight, or decision. These trips were all so much more than just trips for me. I respect travel blogs so much, but my rambling mind just can’t stick to that construction. That’s why this series contains what each trip meant for me and what I took away from them, instead of a precise list of things I did and places I visited.

All of this I say as a preface to my Maui experience and why I’m not simply focusing on all of the sights I saw there. Those moments were so important, but they mean so much more to me collectively than they do individually. So, with that said, here we go!


One of my less endearing traits is my innate refusal to do something simply because someone tells me I have to or I should. I find myself going against the grain, doing things the exact opposite way someone has recommended just because I cannot stand being told what to do. Even if it’s what I wanted, once you tell me I should, I’ll do a complete 180.

Like I said, it’s not endearing.

I say all of that to explain why I never had any desire to go to Hawaii. Everyone loves Hawaii. It’s beautiful and breathtaking and “you just have to go there!” So naturally, having heard forever that I have to go, I never had any intentions of going. It just wasn’t on my radar.

Then my family planned a trip to Maui and I was consequently converted to one of those people gushing about Hawaii and how “you have to go!” Because no matter how stubborn I am, I just cannot deny it- YOU HAVE TO GO.

Oh, the irony.

But I have to admit it: I have never been anywhere as magical as Maui. I really had no clue what I was getting myself into, but after a grueling day of travel and crawling into the hotel bed late at night without even trying to see off the hotel room balcony into the pitch black night, I woke up on our first morning on the island, drew back the blinds, and literally gasped.

Jet lag nagged me relentlessly that first night until I complied at the crack of dawn, pulling myself out of bed on just a few hours of sleep and a bad attitude. But when I opened the sliding glass door, blinked away the exhaustion, and looked out at what I was sure was delirium, I really did gasp. I was watching the sun rise over a dormant volcano that sat right in front of me, surrounded by the calmest, deepest blue ocean, and I actually fell speechless. I couldn’t believe it was real. That feeling never went away, even as we ate breakfast overlooking the ocean on our last morning.

I did things I never dreamt of trying. I got to hike through an ancient volcano after watching the sunrise from the volcanic crater, I swam in a reef with sea turtles, and I even tried surfing. It was not pretty, but I tried and I actually stood up once. I am clumsier than Humpty Dumpty, so it was truly shocking.

Takeaway: I had decided Hawaii wasn’t “for me” purely because I am stubborn. I always thought I knew what it would be like, based on nothing but my pride in opposing what is commonly revered. I have never been so wrong, and I have never been more grateful. Very little in my life has come close to what I had the fortune of experiencing in Maui, and that is putting it mildly. I guess what I’m trying to say is, not only should you not judge a book by its cover, but don’t judge a book by the hype surrounding it either. The only way you’ll ever know if something is worth your time is by allowing yourself to form opinions once you’ve experienced it, not based solely on how you think it would be to experience it. And finally, just go to Maui if you ever have the chance. If you take anything from this, just go to Maui.


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