So this was my second trip to Hawaii, and my first trip to the island of Maui. I got to spend a week there in early April. This was a solo trip, so I needed to be safe. This was also a budgeted trip, so I needed to be frugal. Keeping these things in mind, I stayed in a hostel called Banana Bungalow based on my husband's recommendation.

This hostel is close to 45$ a night. With daily free tours & free breakfast (pancakes only, that you need to make yourself), I thought it was a good deal. Of course, the fact that you get to meet a lot of travelers around the world makes it a one-of-a-kind experience. I'll detail the tours first and then share some other observations I made. Here you go!

Lahaina (Wednesday) - Starting at around noon, my first tour was to the Kaanapali beach near Lahaina town in West Maui. This was a pretty beach and very popular for snorkeling. The water was gorgeous blue at the right temperature. After spending a few hours at the beach in the water, we headed out for happy hour at a shack nearby. I saw a gorgeous rainbow between the hills in the drive (yes, rainbows are very common in Hawaii). The food was good and the drinks were great (with happy hour price - yay!). Some people in the tour left to see the town of Lahaina and do some shopping - so you're free to do that as well. Around 6.30 we all got back to the van, and headed to another nearly-empty beach to see the sunset. And what a sunset it was! Stunning. The sight of seeing the sun dip into the ocean never gets boring.

It was quite windy at the beach, so we left immediately after the sunset. There was a giant Buddha statue nearby, we took some pictures there and then headed back to the hostel around 7 pm.

Turtle town (Thursday) - Day 2 was the South Maui tour. We stopped at Ulua beach near Wailea town after noon. The water here was great as well, and the sand was softer than the previous day's beach. A lot of people on the tour saw turtles when they were snorkeling at this beach. There were a lot of birds that I noticed in this beach - very pretty! Since it was a clear day, another island (Kaho'olawe) was visible from the beach. After spending a few hours at the beach - we went around to do some shopping near Kihei town. I bought a few local hand made souvenirs - guava, pineapple and lilikhoi jams and butters. Soon after, we went to Life's a Beach bar and restaurant. Most of us got the special which was the Life's a Beach burrito, and it did not disappoint. For 5$ it was one of the best burritos I've ever had. Great Mai-Tai too. I recommend this place (especially during happy hour!)

Paia (Friday) - There was a whale-watching tour on Friday, but that got cancelled because of bad weather. I teamed up with a bunch of other girls in the hostel and we all went to Paia beach in North Maui.

This beach was very pretty with very few people and soft sand. The waves were high, which was the reason why there were fewer people. I spend this day at beach sleeping and reading a book. After spending 3 days in beaches - I was now getting bored and wanted a change of scenery.

Haleakala (Saturday) - This was the first full day tour, from 8.30 am to 8.30 pm. We started early and drove up to Haleakala and spent some time at the summit. There were some spectacular views of the crater above the clouds. It was quite a sight. There's a small uphill hike (0.4 mile) at the top of the summit. To get a better view of the crater, we went up there. The view is amazing and it was also apparent that the scenery was nothing like I've ever seen before. The black sand crater depression and the red sand surrounding it - and the clouds between - it was like I was in another planet.

But not even the view from up there can prepare you for the hike. The big part of the day was the strenuous Sliding Sands hike through Haleakala. We started the hike around 1 pm. The hike is of 3 parts - 4 miles downhill, 4 miles straight and 4 miles uphill in that order.

Like I said, nothing can prepare you for the views you're going to see the entire hike. The view keeps changing as the clouds move and you're hiking in the midst of clouds the whole time.

And the landscapes, they're so unreal - definitely like as if you're in another planet. I've also have never seen so many unique landscapes in a single hike. It keeps changing almost every turn you make. From black to red, from sand to rock, from no vegetation to fields of silversword. As you get comfortable with the landscape - it changes.

We took a couple of breaks, one for lunch after the first 4 miles and another at Holua cabin after the second 4 miles. The last 4 miles uphill is strenuous. There's a huge mountain that you're climbing so although it's not steep, it is still uphill. I completed the first 8 miles in 3-3.5 hours and the last 4 miles took another 3 hours. I have to mention that you need to carry your own food and water because you won't find any on the trail.

Our group finished the hike at 6.30 pm and then we got into the van and drove back up to the summit to see the sunset. We made it just in time. This sunset of the sun dipping into the clouds has to be one of the best sunsets I've seen in my entire life. The fact that you're actually watching sun dip into the clouds and not the ocean never seems real or natural. It feels that you're somewhere that is not Earth. I could go back to Maui to see this sunset again. We were lucky, there was no rain or bad weather at the summit which could've dampened the experience.

And, that's the end of Part 1. More in Part 2 of this post.