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At this point, you might think all I did at The Banana Bungalow was hike up enough muscle soreness to justify an entire evening spent in the jacuzzi. But far from it — a vast majority of every Bungalow week is spent beach bumming. Monday is hiking in the ‘Iao Valley, Tuesday is surviving the twisting Road to Hana, and Saturday is the brutal twelve-mile trek across Haleakala crater, but the rest of the time is pure sand and sun.

Wednesday in West Maui

On Wednesdays, the Bungalow crew heads west. After a quick stop to rent snorkel gear, we parked it on the beach in Kaanapali for  a leisurely afternoon of turtle-spotting and cliff-jumping. Most of the major hotels and resorts in West Maui line this beach, and its easy to see why — it’s a million dollar stretch of sand with waters thick with turtles and a cloudless sky.

West Maui
West Maui

West Maui

West Maui

West Maui

In Hawaii, I became hopelessly turtle spoiled. From diving to surfing to snorkeling, my big-shelled friends seemed to make an appearance any time I was remotely near the water.

West Maui

West Maui

West Maui

West Maui

West Maui

West Maui

After a decent fill of sunshine, the tour stops at the Lahaina Jodo Mission before winding down with happy hour in Lahaina Town. This is one of the biggest concentrations of shops, galleries and restaurants in Maui but still maintains its old whaling town charm.

West Maui
West Maui

Thursdays in South Maui

Because you can never have too much beach time, on Thursdays the free Bungalow tour takes off for South Maui. Here, we spread out on towels and spend the day doing intervals of extreme tanning and group snorkeling.

South Maui

South Maui

And what did we find? More turtles, of course!

South Maui

South Maui
South Maui

I may or may not have also snuck into the fancy pants resort next door for a little pool swim. It was nice to experience a hint of Maui luxury, but you know what? I wouldn’t have traded it for my room at the Bungalow.

South Maui

After sunset drinks at Life’s a Beach bar in Kihei (are you sensing a theme to these tours?!) we headed back for a night of fun at The Banana Bungalow.

South Maui

Fridays in Paia

From December to April, when whale watching season is in full swing, The Bungalow brings its guests on a whale watching tour. Sadly, I wasn’t there in whale season — but the consolation prize was pretty great. The rest of the year, the Friday free tour goes to Paia town and then to Baldwin Beach. Paia was actually my favorite spot in all of Maui, and I was so enamored with this bohemian hippie town that I didn’t think to take even one picture. At least I have a reason to go back!

After some time in town, the tour stops at Baldwin Beach. I found myself at this beach on more than one occasion during my time in Maui, hanging out with the Bungalow staff. Believe it or not, this group of international world travelers were usually found building sand cities.

Baldwin Beach

Baldwin Beach

Baldwin Beach

One of my favorite memories from Baldwin Beach was when two little blonde girls, maybe six or seven years old, came right up to the boys building their sand city and demanded to assist. With names like Lilikoi and Lilly I knew immediately they were local island girls and I marveled at their bravery, approaching a group of twenty-something strangers and insisting on joining in on a project! I think it’s a good example of how people live in Hawaii — without paranoia and fear of strangers, and with a lot of aloha.

Baldwin Beach

Baldwin Beach

Baldwin Beach
Baldwin Beach
Baldwin Beach
Baldwin Beach
Baldwin Beach

Sundays at Little Beach

All of the beach days I’ve mentioned so far were wonderful — but none of them compare to Sundays at Little Beach. The day starts out innocently enough, with a few hours spent lazing on nearby Makena’s Big Beach. But as the sun begins to fall, we climb over the large rock wall that partitions off the secluded and private Little Beach.

Here, I found Maui’s secret hippie haven. Clothing optional, fire dancing and drum circling encouraged — welcome to the sunset Sundays at Little Beach. “Well, I know where everyone at Burning Man is going to be in a few decades,” I said to my friend Paula as a nude man in his 70’s spun in circles to the beat of a bongo drum while sniffing a flower plucked from a nearby tree.

Little Beach Sundays

Little Beach Sundays

Little Beach Sundays

This was some of the best people watching I found not only in Hawaii — but in the world! There was a true community vibe here, as smiles and conversation flowed among new friends and handmade bracelets, musical instruments and special brownies were passed around freely. This wasn’t a scene I was expecting to find in Hawaii — but I’m so glad I did.

Little Beach Sundays

Little Beach Sundays

Little Beach
Little Beach

I was so sad when my time at the Banana Bungalow was up — I will always look back on this little hostel as a dear place in my heart. But luckily I wasn’t going far! I was headed just across the island to Lahaina, where I would stay for a blissful and relaxing week with my aunt and uncle. Stay tuned!

How do you like to spend your vacation days? Packed with activities or relaxing at the beach?

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20 Comments...
  • Audrey | That Backpacker
    January 16 2013

    I can see why you extended your time in Hawaii! The place looks amazing! And I like all the snorkeling pics.
    Audrey | That Backpacker recently posted..Tim Burton Exhibit in Seoul

    • Alex
      January 17 2013

      I absolutely love that Canon S100! The waterproof case is great even for non-divers, I think this post proves 🙂

  • Caty
    January 16 2013

    WOW!!!You know how much I love turtles…so now I definitely need to go to Hawaii asap! Love that pic of you and the turtle! But hahahahahaha is that a naked guy right behind your group (it’s the first picture under “Sundays at little beach”)???

    • Alex
      January 17 2013

      Ummmm…. it might be! Haha it was REALLY hard to find a photo without naked people in it when all the photos are taken on a nude beach! 🙂

  • Rika | Cubicle Throwdown
    January 16 2013

    I would have stayed too! That looks like SO much fun. And all the turtles! Eeeeeeeeeeee! Also, that might be the cutest bikini of all time, where did you pick that up??
    Rika | Cubicle Throwdown recently posted..Expats don’t have everything. Weird, right?

    • Alex
      January 17 2013

      Victoria’s Secret! They have amazing sales at the end of the summer and I almost always pick one up there. H&M and Target are my other go-tos for bikini shopping 🙂

      • Rika | Cubicle Throwdown
        January 17 2013

        Ooooh! Yes! My roommate in Roatan and I ordered a bunch of bikinis on sale in December from VS (before I knew I was coming to the States)… and I have been raiding Target like mad here in Miami, I’ve already bought 5 … I think I have a problem 🙂
        Rika | Cubicle Throwdown recently posted..100 Days of Summer

        • Alex
          January 18 2013

          I consider them my “work uniform”…. makes it much easier to justify!

  • Amanda
    January 16 2013

    All these posts about that hostel sound amazing–why don’t they have hostels like that everywhere in America??
    Amanda recently posted..Traveling and Life in 2013

    • Alex
      January 17 2013

      Ugh — good question Amanda. I’ve only had two American hostel experiences. This one was obviously amazing, and the other was kind of seedy. Oh well, I guess not everywhere can be the best!

  • Gaelyn
    January 16 2013

    I’m making Little Beach my base. In fact I could probably retire there, just not quite yet.
    Gaelyn recently posted..Cruising the Karoo in South Africa

    • Alex
      January 17 2013

      If I ever wondered where all of America’s happy hippies retired to… I know now 🙂

  • Shaun
    January 17 2013

    Too awesome! connecting with people and making new friends. I really like all the turtles too!

    • Alex
      January 18 2013

      It really is a pretty fantastic combo 🙂

  • How were you able to leave? I wouldn’t have, no way! Turtles!!! My husband is obsessed with them. He would have been going crazy!
    Andi of My Beautiful Adventures recently posted..San Francisco & Napa Valley: Day 4 (Part 1)

    • Alex
      January 18 2013

      You guys are going to LOVE Cayman then! You are likely to see turtles on every dive! When do you leave again? Email me and remind me to send ya my suggestions!

  • Molly Yonderblog
    January 18 2013

    What beautiful pictures of the turtles!
    Molly Yonderblog recently posted..Koh Tao Underwater

    • Alex
      January 18 2013

      Thanks Molly! PS: So glad you enjoyed diving in Koh Tao 🙂

  • Gianna
    October 27 2015

    Im going to Maui this January. So stoked!

    I hope the Little Beach festivities are there when I am.

    • Alex
      October 27 2015

      I’m pretty sure it’s every Sunday! Enjoy!

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