Publié le 12/04/2022

Maui: The Life Source

As the world re-opens after the pandemic, a trip to Hawaii is a particularly rewarding destination, promising natural wonders that almost seem out of this world. Within the planet’s most isolated archipelago, the island of Maui offers the most exemplary of climates.

Maui: The Life Source

A heavenly view of the island of Lanai from the lush Hotel Wailea grounds in South Maui.

As the world re-opens after the pandemic, a trip to Hawaii is a particularly rewarding destination, promising natural wonders that almost seem out of this world. Within the planet’s most isolated archipelago, the island of Maui offers the most exemplary of climates.

At dawn, when the Pacific is still warm from its Hawaiian night and the sand is almost cold underfoot, you dive, plunging into the welcoming waves at the foot of the Hotel Wailea. With your head underwater, you are suddenly surrounded by ancient sounds rising from the depths: the unmistakable song of whales. Here, in Makena, they’re so very close, just a few hundred yards from the coast.

You can’t quite believe your ears and flip on to your back, head half-submerged, to let yourself float, lulled by this oceanic melody: a powerful sound bath that all the world’s retreats and infinite meditations will never equal. This miracle returns every year as the whales come to Maui, with its hospitable sea, to deliver their young. They spend all winter in this vast playground, swimming with their calves by their sides before returning to Alaska in the spring. What surfer has not gazed behind the wave crests and seen the silhouette of a whale leaping majestically into the air, or glimpsed the jet from its blowhole? As for the Hawaiian monk seal, native to Maui, it is not uncommon to come across one dozing on the beaches.

Bodysurf in the Pacific and commune with the ocean near Hamoa Beach just outside Hana.
A dizzying view of Honomanū Bay and the forested road to Hana, the island’s rainiest territory.

Maui is an immense nature reserve. Halfway between California and Japan, far out in the Pacific, the island is home to ten of the fourteen climates found on our planet. In this captivating world, you can go from one of the driest places on the planet to one of the wettest; from lush jungle to Haleakalā, the gigantic dormant volcano responsible for the island’s creation (with a width of more than two miles, its crater could hold Manhattan); across pastures worthy of Switzerland or vast expanses of silver tundra. Nearly half the species are endemic. On its own, Maui is a biodiversity bonanza. 

Engulfed by the flourishing jungle along the road to Hana on the island’s eastern tip.
Maui, home to the world’s largest dormant volcano, was forged by magma, resulting in black sand beaches like this one.

What this means is that travel takes on another dimension: visitors reflect on their connection to nature. When you visit Maui, you become an honored witness to a hundred different ecosystems, at once powerful yet fragile. It holds a sense of mystery, too: large sections of the island – deep-set valleys, waterlogged mountains, thundering waterfalls – remain inaccessible to humans and fascinating to scientists. With contemplation comes the desire to protect this nourishing land, whose balance is threatened in the same way as other places on the planet. But you can take action. Four local figures invite the traveler to become an agent of change and sustainability. 

The archipelago is a wondrous terrestrial biosphere, combining one of the driest places on Earth with the wettest. Pictured are the vast, tundra-like expanses of the southeast coast.

Starting with Eddy Garcia, a charismatic, uncategorizable character. He is the trailblazing surfer of Jaws (Maui’s surf break with the world’s biggest waves alongside Nazaré, Portugal). He is part mad scientist (creator of a solution to transform surfboards – and polystyrene in general – into compost using worms that feed on them), part friend and advisor to Yvon Chouinard, founder of the Patagonia brand. 

Eddy has restored to its former glory a place known as Maliko Gulch (maliko means “to bloom” in Hawaiian), a fertile valley sacred to the Ancients that had deteriorated into a landfill. A fervent practitioner of agroforestry and regenerative agriculture, he cleaned up this land and cleared the waste-clogged river of abandoned cars and wrecked planes to let it flow naturally once again. Today, Maliko is a valley of wonders. Eddy hosts farm-to-table dinners there under the stars, along with workshops on recycling, compost, agriculture, and more, in a galaxy of educational and inspiring initiatives.

Through agroforestry and with The Maliko Project, Eddy Garcia has brought the North Shore’s sacred, fertile valley of Maliko Gulch back to life.
Due to Maui’s isolation – the nearest continent is some 2,500 miles away – unique fauna and flora have evolved on the island.

Another man with a mission: Campbell Farrell and his Love the Sea foundation. His goal is to rid the coast of the plastic (from commercial fishing) that ends up there. Supported by an army of volunteers, he organizes clean-up days. Fishing nets, buoys, and other flotsam and jetsam are collected on the beaches or pulled off stretches of coastline accessible only by sea. Local community members and tourists join forces in these commando operations.

Then there’s Beth Elliott, who collects hundreds of pounds of flowers from weddings for Petals with a Purpose. For Maui is one of the world’s leading wedding destinations and therefore home to tremendous plant waste. Beth converts the fleeting life expectancy of these live products into a more lasting future through upcycling: she dismantles oversized decorations, encourages florists to use biodegradable, reusable, and/or non-toxic materials, and redistributes the flowers to places like hospitals and senior living facilities, or turns them into compost.

With her Petals with a Purpose project, Beth Elliott redistributes and recycles hundreds of pounds of flowers from weddings held in Maui.

At the Hotel Wailea, the talented Krista Garcia is the creative force behind extraordinary dinners, superb cuisine to enjoy in a treehouse, with a view of the Pacific as your tableside entertainment. The Californian culinary creator gives free rein to her talent and intuition and is a true connoisseur when it comes to working with the island’s ingredients, growing her own vegetables at home in Haiku, on the northern coast. A tailor-made, tête-à-tête meal prepared before guests’ very eyes, like a chef’s table, sees her julienne banana flowers, finely chop ginger blossoms, sprinkle her dish with limu (seaweed) and finger lime pearls, or whip up a lilikoi (passion fruit) sauce. Her cooking is a declaration of love to the land of Hawaii.

Krista Garcia uses herbs from the Hotel Wailea’s garden and cooks local Japanese kabocha squash for an entirely homegrown dinner.
The chef showcases the archipelago’s abundance in her cuisine: fish from Maui and shrimp from the island of Molokai, banana flower, lilikoi (passion fruit), calamansi, macadamia nut, mangosteen, etc.
Red snapper, a local line-caught fish, banana flower, limu (seaweed) and lilikoi (passion fruit) sauce.
A green corridor on the Hotel Wailea grounds. Set in one of the island’s most arid regions, the hotel is now focused on better managing its water consumption.
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