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The Westcoast Connection Blog

Life Changing Experiences

Our Very First Luau – Community Service Hawaii


Greetings from our natural paradise that is the island of Maui,

Despite only being a 25-minute plane ride from Oahu, Maui feels like a different planet – and the trip members felt the difference almost immediately. Gone are the skyscrapers and highways. Gone is the metropolis known as Honolulu and the hustle and bustle of Waikiki. In to replace them are country roads, that run along rocky coasts, cut through lush, green mountains, and pass through small seaside towns. The pace is slow here. It is quiet. If you know where to look however, you will find that the forests and beaches here are just as alive as any city.

We began settling into our new home after and our hotel’s wonderful pool before heading off to the coastal town of Paia. It was there that the group got their first taste of local Mahi – the famous Paia Fish Market.  The trip members loved their fish tacos, seafood pasta, fresh grilled fish, and even a few burgers.

“I really liked how small it was, and the way that they would simply call the order for you to pick up and bring to your table.” – Amelia

“The fish tacos were delicious!” – Jacob

Friday was a day that most members had been anxiously awaiting since Day 1: SURFING!  We all had the opportunity to catch a wave and ride it to shore. The professional instructors helped us successfully stand on our surfboards. Taylor J. was off to a good start and managed to bounce up on the board on his first attempt. Many others succeeded despite it being their first experiences with the sport. A congrats goes to Hannah, Jen, and Taylor C for successfully standing on their boards. Toward the end of the lesson, a few confident members began to catch waves on their own. Congratulations to Remi, Marika, Jess K. and Jonathan for applying what they had learned and seeking waves independently.

That very same evening, the group had opportunity to take part in a very unique experience – attending their very first Luau. The food was abundant: poi, macadamia nut encrusted fish, teriyaki chicken, fresh veggies (including local purple potatoes!), salad with papaya dressing and the freshest and sweetest pineapple imaginable – not to mention all the yummy desserts. The show that followed the feast was both entertaining and educational. Every scene focused on a different Polynesian culture. The narrative, expressed in traditional dance, was accompanied by Polynesian myth and music.

Community Service Hawaii

The group spent the next few days with ECO Maui exploring the fertile valleys and lush forests with guides Nature Ray and Nature Jay. We had the chance to help clean up an area known as Twin Falls. In its dense forests, Samantha and Marika learned to weave by ripping very thin strips of tree bark. It is in this same area that Emily tried freshly picked passion fruit. The composting project with which we were tasked was made easier because the food we were helping to grow was also providing us the energy to carry on.

The work was fun but the highlight of the day was when Jay and Ray took us on a hike through the property to two different waterfalls.  Alex quickly became acquainted with the falling water, standing under the natural shower for the majority of our swim. The water was cool and refreshing. The backdrop was a rock climber’s paradise, as rocks jutted from the wall in every direction, sculpted by erosion and falling water. Words can’t quite convey how beautiful this place was so check out the trip albums so you can try to understand.

Our trip might be close to being over but we still have a lot of work to do before we leave. In the past few days we’ve been volunteering at the local Boys and Girls Club running programming and acting as positive role models for the children there. It’s been an incredible experience to give back to the youth of Maui, the island that has given to us in abundance.

The Westcoast Blogger