Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Maui, Day 7

Straight to the pictures here.

Day 7: The Road to Hana. We agreed that if the weather looked bad, we’d hit the road again and do part of the road to Hana. Our plan was to till about mile marker 14-15 on the Hana Hwy, then turn around (once you hit the highway, it’s about 33-34 miles to Hana). What I wasn’t planning on was going all the way to Hana. For the last 15-20 miles, we were watching the gas gauge closely, relying on what we’d been told which was “gas can be found in Hana” (lucky for me, the gas station was open). I’m getting ahead of myself though…

Waterfalls: We stopped at quite a few waterfalls; most of them very easily accessible from the road, and a couple of them were really incredible. The one good thing about the weather is that all of the waterfalls were running fairly strong…too strong in one case which ruined the effect (one waterfall is called “The Three Bears” but in fact because there was so much water, is was more like one big bear than three). Still, all of the Falls were really cool to see and we did some minor scrambling to get to a couple of them.

One of my favorite parts was scrambling off the path a little to an upper fall. By far and away, though, best waterfall was the last one we stopped at, on our way out. Our guidebook warned that technically, we weren’t supposed to be hiking on the road you had to go on to get to the Falls – but we went for it anyways and were rewarded with a huge, cascading water-fall that rivals Snoqualmie Falls…it was powerful, and beautiful.

One of our other memorable moments was at one of the parks we stopped at. The park had a paved trail that led to a couple of small waterfalls; however, our guidebook spoke of a much better waterfall hire up. We set on the small dirt trail and ended up at a culvert of some kind. The only way to cross the culvert was along this 12” wide walkway – on one side, if you fell, you’d simply fall into the culvert of rushing water. On the other side, if you fell, you’d fall a little furter…about 50-60’ – yikes! We pressed on and were rewarded with privacy and a nice waterfall into a pool. We hiked around a little further and found a couple more of these such “crossings” – apparently, the culverts help to irrigate the land below. I finally put my foot down when we came to one crossing which was much longer than the others…

The road: The Hana Highway would be better named “The Hana crawl-way” as many people literally “creep” along the road. And if you know me well, you know that I hate slow or bad drivers…and there were plenty of them on this road; you know, slowing down to 5-10 mph around every corner. Further, there’s really no places to pass; you have to hope that 1) the drivers know they’re slow, 2) the drivers see you behind them, and 3) they are polite enough to pull over and let you pass. Needless to say, on the drive in, the last 45 minutes or so (about 12-15 miles), a lady driving a car didn’t seem to appreciate items 1, 2 or 3, and she ended up with about 8-10 of us following her quite slowly.

We found another nice taco stand for lunch, although nothing topped the “marinated Kalua Pork” that we got the day before. Still, a good place for lunch and definitely a “local” flavor.

On the way back we stopped in a surfer town to check out a natural foods store they had and Julie was in heaven…I think she could have stayed there for a few hours. The store was quite large and carried a number of Gluten Free items…so we stocked up a bit.

On the way back from Hana we got our first “really cool” whale sighting, the first of 3. Julie spotted them and I made in illegal left turn into one of those beach parks…they were very close to shore and we watched them in the light rain for about 30 minutes.

Straight to the pictures here.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Maui, Day 6

Straight to the pictures here.

Day 6 Dawned, well, it dawned cloudy. That didn’t stop us, however, from a lot of fun. We started out heading back to Honolua Bay; not to snorkel this time, but simply to enjoy the lush forest area, take some pictures and climb some vines. Aside from the climbing, Julie also grabbed a couple of passion-fruits and popped them open to expose their lovely innards…no, we didn’t partake of the goodness.

Following Honolua, we headed north, continuing along the highway and enjoying the changing scenery. That is one thing that we discovered about Maui – it is an extremely diverse island where you can enjoy lush tropical areas, beaches, arid dry lands, waterfalls, and so much more. The island has two big volcanoes on it; one on the northish side, the other on the southish side. In both cases, the Windward side of the island is extremely tropical complete with cascading waterfalls, and lots of rain. The Leeward sides of the mountains are much drier; (and, no big surprise that most of the tourist spots are on the leeward side).

Ok, back to our day – we headed north and next stopped at the olivine pools. The pools were cool, but would have been a whole lot neater if the sun had been out. Still, worth the stop and we also managed to find another small blow-hole. We kept going into the small village of Kahakuloa, where we stopped for some of the “world’s best banana bread.” To be sure, it was good, but there were about 4-5 places on the island that bragged about their bread…hard to say who’s was best.

It was at this point we realized we could drive around the entire north coast; something that wasn’t open back in 2002 when we honeymooned here. Since the weather was not improving, we decided to go for it. The drive was nice and we enjoyed the changing scenery and the small village or two that we passed.

Eventually we made to the city of Wailuku; not much to write home about (for all of you who want to move to Maui, Wailuku is probably a place you could find affordable housing). Wailuku didn’t have much going for it, but we did manage to find a place to stop for lunch before heading to the “Io Needle.” The pictures in the guide-book were amazing; the needle itself left something to be desired. It was extremely crowded with a couple of tourist buses and signs everywhere telling you to stay on the path. The aggravating part was that there were numerous foot-paths heading off in other directions that were SO tempting to take…another time, maybe.

On our way back to our hotel we did two more things; one, we stopped at the Petroglyphs which are just south of Lahaina. This was a real highlight for both of us, especially Julie. Many of these petroglyphs are hundreds of years old. We were the only ones there for most of our time and we walked around looking at many of them, trying to determine which ones were authentic and which ones might be a little graffiti. After the petroglyphs, our plan was to headed back into town for a little beach time.

Straight to the pictures here.  

Monday, March 23, 2009

Maui, Day 5

Maui Day 5 (Friday) dawned a beautiful "Bellingham Grey" - only about 30 degrees warmer...(although you'll see Julie's blue fleece make a few more appearances today). Given the weather still wasn't great for a beach day, we jumped into the car and headed North.  Click here to see all the pictures from day 5.

Our first stop was to Honolua Bay. This bay is arguably the best snorkel spot on the island; namely, because it's part of the Mokuleia Marine Life Conservation District. In other words, it's protected from man (no spear fishing, or fishing of any kind). The only problem with the Bay is depending on the weather, the surf, and a fresh-water river that feeds into the Bay, it can either be the best snorkeling on the island or a murky mess that you don't even want to enter. We had experienced both and were hopeful of the best...and we were not disappointed. Even though it was mostly cloudy, the water was fairly clear and we enjoyed some great snorkeling, including a huge school of fish that we swam with for a bit. In addition, we saw a couple of sea turtles from the shore who were apparently in some kind of mating ritual we believe. They were at the surface but we were told to "stay away from them" (and we complied). The snorkeling was great - you'll have to wait until the Day 6 post to see a few pictures though.

Following the snorkel and "warming up," (yes, we got in the car and cranked the heat), we decided to check out a couple of new things - namely, the Nakalele blowhole. Amazingly, we hadn't really ventured to this part of the island before (we will, at this point, credit the big blue "Maui revealed" book - an excellent book for some tips on the island). It described an "alien landscape" along with a powerful blowhole. I did my homework to make sure we saw it at high-tide on a day when the surf was up a little and we were not disappointed. The only thing that would have made it better would have been some sun and blue sky. You can hike all the way down to the blowhole (as some others we saw did) but you'd risk getting very wet. The landscape around the area was "alien," just as described. The holes in the rock are caused by the spray of the salt water eating things away.

After the blowhole we headed into town to one of my favorite "mixed plate" places called "Aloha Mixed Plate" where we dined on some wonderful pulled pork and coconut shrimp (so good!). The rest of the day we hung out by our pool, read books, relaxed, and went into town for our traditional "Bubba Gump" dinner.  Click here to see all the pictures from day 5.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Maui, Day 3 and 4

This post is Day 3 and 4, Wed and Thur, from La Perouse Bay (2nd time) to Pacific 'O for dinner.  Click here to see all the pictures (or scroll down for the slideshow)

We woke up Wed morning, early again and had a nice breakfast on the beach.  It was cool and fairly cloudy (Julie in fact, wore a long sleeved fleece jacket most of the morning).  We left at about 8:00ish, AM, and went straight to the aquarium; the "snorkel spot" (not an actual "aquarium").  We sat for about 30 minutes waiting for a sunbreak before we finally plunged in.  The snorkeling was beautiful, as always, although with the wind and chop and lack of sun, the water wasn't quite as clear as it could have been.  Still, it was a memorable snorkel.

We then jumped in the car and drove on down, back to La Perouse Bay.  We watched many people get in to snorkel in the "very blue" water and asked one couple how it was.  They said it was, in fact, not clear and you couldn't really see anything.  They pointed us south and said that any of the little coves would make better snorkeling.  We took their advice and hiked along the south trail again, stopping at a cove that looked promising...and it was.  The best part of the snorkel was having the place to ourselves.

We dried out a bit, hiked back to the car, and proceeded to have some Jaws tacos again, followed by a scrumptious banana desert from a roadside vendor...Tonyhawks favorite place.  In between the two food stops we made a quick jaunt to Big Beach, though we didn't stay there.  Made it back to our hotel later, and went to a Mexican place for dinner in Kihei.

Day 4: Woke up Thursday morning, "swing day" (the day we transition from Kihei to Kaanapali) - the first thing we noticed this morning was Mike (I) was definitely sick.  I felt it coming on Wednesday night (partly due to the fact that I was tired by about 7:30 PM and in bed by 8:15), but by Thurs AM it was a full-fledged head-cold.  Still, we didn't let it stop us.  We did our morning routine of Breakfast on the beach (cold cereal, if you're wondering), and checked out/hit the road by 10:00.  We drove up to the North Coast (past Kahului) stopping at various places to see the beaches/waves/surfers.  We tried to make it to "Jaws" - the famed beach with the huge waves, but weren't able to due to a really rough road.  Mike got the best "Pork" Taco ever at a small stand in the town of Haiku.  After that, we continued on the road to...

Twin Falls - this is the first major stop on the road to Hana.  It turned out to be more than just 2 falls, and also turned out to be one of our favorite stops.  We hiked around and scrambled until we found the Falls...we actually saw about 3 different Falls.  They were great.  If the weather had been better we would have jumped in the water for sure!  On the hike, besides the waterfalls, we were treated to beautiful bamboo forests, trees with amazing roots, and numerous other "rainforest" type views...it reminded us both of our trip to Austraila.

We ended this day by heading back to Kannapali to check into our new digs - we got cleaned up and made it into Lahaina for a really nice dinner at Pacific 'O - this was our favorite restaurant on our honeymoon and they continue to rank high on our list, although they haven't changed the menu in over 6 years.  All in all, a great couple of days.

Click here to see all the pictures (or see below for the slideshow)

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Maui, Day 1 and 2

Click here to link to all of the pictures...OR just scroll down and watch the slide show.

Here's the long awaited blogging/pictures from our recent trip to Maui...ok, maybe not so long awaited.  Make sure you read the captions on the photos (when you click the link) as they tell more of the story.

First, our flight down was super quick - we landed about 12:15 and by 2:00 we were on the beach...and that includes getting luggage, stopping at JAWS for Tacos (which we ate there), stopping at Snorkel Bob's to rent boogie boards, and touching base at our hotel lobby.  Little did we know, this would be one of the few sunny times we would enjoy on the beach.

We hung out on the beach that afternoon interrupted only by checking into our hotel.  The room was small, but did come with a tempurpedic mattress (very nice).  We were tired after a long day of travel so we ended up eating dinner at a place called "Wokstar" (or something like that).

Day 2: We were up early and did a couple of snorkels that morning in front of our hotel (did see a sea turtle).  For lunch we drove south to the JAWS stand and then proceded to the end of the road, to La Perouse Bay.  The Bay is BEAUTIFUL with perfect blue water...however, we were there for a short hike.  Our "short" hike turned into a slightly longer hike that saw us hugging the southwestern shore and eventually turning the corner around the southern tip of the island.  It was extremely windy and our destination, a supposed "charm" of a black-sand beach turned out to be only a "so-so" beach.  However we enjoyed the hike immensely as it winds through some lava fields, and also put us onto the "King's Highway" (our trail was the Hoapili trail).  It was cool to think we were walking on such an ancient pathway.  We were also extremely thankful we had brought our shoes as most of the trail is through a somewhat "treacherous" lava field, with very sharp rocks.  A couple of trail highlights were 1) seeing a beautiful red cardinal, 2) spotting a herd of wild goats, 3) hiking through a really beautiful forest and listening to the "night walkers" (the natives, in earlier times, believed this part of the forest was plagued by spirits that would come out at night - we heard them...the wind blowing trees together which created an erie sound.

On the way back we noticed a group of people standing and staring into a little inlet in the water - a place where the waves crashed into a narrow gulley.  We had to stop to see what they were doing and amazingly, they were watching a group of sea turtles eating on some stuff that grew just at the waters edge.  The turtles would ride the waves in, pretty strong waves at that, and take a few quick bites before the waves carried them back out.  It was pretty amazing to watch, and one of our big highlights of the trip.

We made our way back and had some 1/2 price "happy hour" appetizers back at a hotel close to ours...Julie, who was facing the beach for dinner, also witnessed a cute but small wedding that night.  We felt bad for the couple as it was an "overcast, windy no-sunset, somewhat cold" evening - probably not the idyllic wedding they had pictured.

Ran into town after that for a quick ice cream...that's it for Day 2! 
Click here to link to all of the pictures...OR just scroll down and watch the slide show.