The Maui Gypsy Guide in Action

Technology gets a bad rap for robbing us of our humanity—we’re constantly transfixed by tiny screens instead of the open sky, stuck in our heads instead of actually interacting with other people. But I recently downloaded an iPhone app that made me wonder how anyone could have gone without it.

While in Maui, the hubs and I used The Gypsy Guide, series of audio guides designed to be used while driving. It uses your phone’s GPS to cue geographically pertinent information, like where to park and which markers to look for, in addition information about the attractions themselves. They say good design is good usability, and this was certainly the case–it was like having a treasure map guiding us through the tropical jungle.

All of those crowded arrows are talking points, for both the way there and back.

All of those crowded arrows are talking points, for both the way there and back.

This guide was especially useful as the hubs and I took The Road to Hana, a famous drive in Maui dotted with beautiful waterfalls, exotic beaches, and excellent roadside stands…not to mention nauseating hairpin turns and stressful one-lane bridges. The drive itself is the toll for experiencing all that beauty. I can’t imagine how many tourists must have spent the drive either lost, or missing out on the hard to find natural treasures because of the lack of signage. This could have easily turned into an argument-filled, miserable afternoon cluelessly meandering through the rainforest, narrowly missing beautiful sights, if only we had just known where to turn.

In the three hours it took us to get to Hana and a bit beyond, we stopped at a good 10-15 sights–though there are many, many more than that, but to see all of them properly would take more than a full day. The friendly narrator, who professed himself a local, laid out the game plan: he’d let us know if we were coming up on a “must see” stop, and was honest about other stops that could be skipped if we were pressed for time. The app even knew when we were on our way BACK, and narrated the history of Hawaii and Maui to keep us entertained, starting with the Tahitian migration, up to (reluctant) US statehood. The app helped us take full advantage of an unforgettable experience.

A tight squeeze for two way traffic...eesh!

A tight squeeze for two way traffic…eesh!

Inside the Keanae Arboretum. Got bamboo?

Inside the Keanae Arboretum. Got bamboo?

There's always money in the Banana [bread] Stand.

There’s always money in the Banana [bread] Stand.

Inside the Keanae Arboretum. This flower was as big as my head.

Inside the Keanae Arboretum. This flower was as big as my head.

Gorgeous Rainbow Eucalyptus trees

Gorgeous Rainbow Eucalyptus trees

Black sand beach at Waianapanapa State Park. Never seen anything like it!

Black sand beach at Waianapanapa State Park. Never seen anything like it!

The Pools of Oheo, inside Haleakala National Park

The Pools of Oheo, inside Haleakala National Park

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