There’s no telling what kind of excitement might occur during one of our legendary Road to Hana tours. During my many years as a tour driver, I have seen all sorts of wonderful and amazing things happen… Some are funny, some not so funny and occasionally the completely unexpected happens. Even the occasional heart-warming moments remind me why I enjoy doing what I do so much. It’s an adventure and all sorts of fantastic things can happen.
There is one particular day that stands out in my mind. It started as one of those perfect Maui mornings: sunny, clear blue skies, perfect popcorn clouds and a light breeze that kisses your skin. The sunlight was shimmering on the waves with the deep blues of the Pacific stretching majestically out to the horizon. Perfect. I had a particularly wonderful group this day. Everyone was in great spirits and several of the couples were celebrating special occasions… anniversaries, honeymoons and the like. It was turning out to be a great day and we were just getting started!
After enjoying a delicious breakfast at Ho’okipa Beach Park, we set off on our journey and it wasn’t long before the jaw-dropping views from the road began to take shape before our eyes: lush rain forests, breathtaking coastal landscapes, vivid flowering plants, tropical fruit trees, waterfalls… everything Maui is so famous for. By the time we arrived at the black sand beach at Waianapanapa it was close to noon, so we decided to have lunch there. It was then as we were getting ready to leave, that a young man in the group pulled me aside and asked if he could talk to me in private for a moment. He said today was a very special day because he was going to be proposing to his girlfriend and he wanted to do it at one of the stops along the way. I told him I thought that was a great idea and he asked if I could suggest a good place. All of a sudden the pressure was on because I knew I had to think of the perfect place! At first I thought about the black sand beach because we were right there and it’s a uniquely scenic spot but it came to me: the perfect place! A breathtaking waterfall called South Wailua Falls, which is one of the best waterfalls in the state of Hawaii, and one that you can actually get to by road. They use it in a lot of the photo shoots and you’ll often see it in pictures on one of the pages of the airlines’ many in-flight magazines. A truly romantic spot, I couldn’t wait to get us there!
After driving a few more miles we hit one of the next stops. I pulled him aside and said, “Okay, when we get to South Wailua Falls, here’s what I suggest. The waterfall is located behind the bridge and there’s a small trail that leads to it. If you take your girlfriend and go down there, it’s a beautiful setting and there’s a perfect spot next to the falls where you can work your magic. The rest, my friend, is up to you. We’ll all be waiting. Good luck!”
When we finally pulled up to South Wailua Falls, I parked the van and had him and his girlfriend get off first. He took her by the hand and they headed off for the waterfall. After they were out of earshot, I proceeded to tell the rest of the group what was happening. Everybody got very excited. From the bridge, we could see them walk down the path and eventually stop at the spot I had suggested. At this point I remember one of the ladies in our group saying “What if she says no?” The thought had actually never occurred to me! If she says no, I thought to myself, it could put a real damper on the rest of the tour (not to mention the poor guy’s heart!).
A few moments later, he was down on one knee and by now the bridge had filled up with other visitors who had taken notice of the event. We could see him pulling out the ring. For several seconds, it seemed as if we were all holding our breath, waiting to see how she would respond. The minute she realized what was happening, she put her hand over her mouth and started crying. We couldn’t hear his words but it was looking like it was going well. Her joyful tears and happy face were the final giveaway. Then he placed the ring on her finger, at which point we all burst into applause. It was a truly heart-warming moment and one I will never forget.
After a long embrace, they made their way back from the waterfall and thanked me, saying how perfect of a place it was for such a special moment in their lives. For the remainder of the trip that day, I remember the many smiling faces in my rear view mirror. It’s those smiles that inspire me to get up each morning and see what adventure the new day will bring.
-Jack The Legend