While I was growing up, my family and I traveled a lot. All the new, exciting places there were to see usually took priority over places we had already been, so there were very few locations I got to visit more than once. However, the one place that always seemed to defy this pattern was the Hawaiian island of Maui. In total, I have probably been to Maui eight or nine times, and I'm still not tired of it. At this point, it is like a second home to me. I know all my favorite activities to do there (though there are still plenty I haven't tried yet) and all my favorite places to eat. Maui is my escape from reality, and no new vacation spot could ever take its place in my heart.
The main attraction on the island is, of course, the beach, where sunbathing, surfing, and snorkeling are all popular pastimes. The ocean itself is home to many other entertainment opportunities, including scuba diving, submarining, and sailing. However, the most important ocean activity to experience while you're there is whale watching. The way the three Hawaiian islands of Maui, Lanai, and Molokai formed left the ocean somewhat blocked among them, which means the water on the west side of Maui remains relatively calm and shallow for an island in the middle of the ocean. It is for this very reason that Maui is such an excellent and well-known place for whale watching. Every winter, humpback whales travel from Alaska to the warm waters of Hawaii to give birth in the calm, shallow water among the islands. These gentle giants are beautiful creatures that are incredible to watch. You can often see them from the beach, but taking a whale watching tour is the best way to see them up close.
In life, I have been lucky enough to have received a great education, and a very important part of that education has always been travel. As much as I have learned from great, inspiring teachers in college, high school, and even before, nothing can compare to the educational value of travel itself. Whether you're learning about Michelangelo's temper while gazing up at the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, learning about the ancient traditions of the Incas while admiring the view from the top of Machu Picchu, or learning about the tunnels the ancient Egyptians built under the pyramids while exploring them yourself, the information you learn is bound to be more memorable if you experience it firsthand.
It is for this reason that I chose to go on a study abroad trip to Spain several years ago with friends from school. Aside from my love of travel, I also love the Spanish language and have been working to learn it for many years. As a non-native speaker, I can attest to the fact that the best way to learn any language is by traveling to the country where it is spoken. Without the experience of daily interactions with multiple people who speak the language, it is difficult to ever achieve fluency (or anything like it) in a second language.