Once in Maui we were greeted with much different view than the Big Island.
|this guy greeted us in the rental car parking lot|
|and we saw this little lady when we stopped at a stoplight.|
What's up with the chickens in Maui?
|Sorry, I didn't make the bed perfectly before I took this picture|
|I loved this shower - light colored river rocks - definitely want to do that in my next house!|
After relaxing a bit, we got changed for our luau. We didn't do a ton of "tourist" excursions and such since we preferred to venture out on our own, but we booked both a luau and a snorkel trip in Maui and I'm so glad we did. The Old Lahaina Luau was the perfect Hawaii experience. You are greeted with a mai tai and a lei then escorted by a host dressed in traditional clothes. We opted for the traditional seating - pillows under a low table - which also gave us a front row view to the show. There was no pig in the ground but dinner was amazing. The perfect chance to try local food. I skipped the lau lau having already decided my opinion on that, but loved the poke, purple sweet potatoes, and chicken - among other things. Desserts though are not something the Hawaiians do well. :) But I was perfectly content with my frozen concoctions!
|this picture was for one of my technicians who said she better see me with a frozen drink in front of a tiki hunt! Hah!|
After dinner they put on a show that tells the story of the island as well as folklore. And of course plenty of hula dancing. We loved it!
Thursday, we woke up early for the snorkel trip we booked. We were supposed to be going to the Molokini Crater - the tip of a volcano out in the ocean that supposedly has the best snorkeling on the island
|view from out plane flying in|
Unfortunately, it gets pretty rough out there if it is windy (apparently a common occurrence) and the captain decided it wasn't going to happen. He did have a couple other places to take us though. First, Turtle Cove where there were sea turtles everywhere. It was really cool - once Cameron convinced me to jump in. The thing about Hawaii is that the water is cold! I guess it's because it is so deep and their temps stay in the 80s. Add in an overcast windy day and I was not too thrilled about jumping in. I gladly accepted the wetsuit when they offered!
Anyway, we loved the snorkeling and we really enjoyed swimming up close with all the sea turtles. Cameron really wanted to see a shark (something I was thrilled about), but we never did. After Turtle Cove, they took us to the Coral Gardens - this place was gorgeous! So much coral and fish to see. After snorkeling, they opened up the bar for mai tais for the cruise back. Have to get a little booze cruise in, right? The captain spotted a humpback whale and her calf. He said it was late in the season for whales, but sometimes you get a few stragglers. He pulled up along side them so we could watch for a while. So amazing!!
Once we moved on from the whales, he spotted a Hawaiian monk seal sunning itself. Apparently they are endangered and only a couple thousand left. You know it's rare when the deckhands that do that everyday are up front taking pictures. The seal, however, seemed less than amused. :)
For the afternoon, we went to Kapalua Bay Beach. This has to be the one disappointing thing for me on our trip. I had read about it in Coastal Living as being one of the top 10 beaches in the world. You gotta go see that right?? It was packed and not nearly as pretty as I expected. Certainly not bad, but I was picturing amazing you know? We still spent the afternoon laying in the sun.
We cleaned up in the park bathrooms and went in to Lahaina to wander around. Unfortunately, we were there the same time a cruise ship was so the town was packed. Loved the Banyan tree though. It's one whole tree. My pictures just don't do it justice. The branches grow down into the ground and form another trunk.
We went up the street for dinner at Aloha Mixed Plate. Good atmosphere and good local food.
For our last full day in Maui, we did the Road to Hana trek. If you aren't familiar with it, it's a must do in Maui. While the road from Paia (the last real town) to Hana (a teeny tiny town) is only about 45 miles, it takes you hours to get there. You drive on a narrow, sometimes 1 lane road, on the side of a cliff around hairpin turns that the locals take way too fast. But "the journey is the destination" with tons of places to stop along the way. And let me tell you it was an adventure! We put the top down on the jeep and left Paia about 9:30am with an app on our phone that uses GPS to tell you where to stop, what to skip, and history along the way (yes, "there's an app for that").
First up was Hookipa Beach, known for its windsurfers. There were none out that day but still a gorgeous view!
Our next stop was Twin Falls. This a small hike up to a waterfall. Pretty view. At the trail head was a fruit stand, where we got a coconut to drink. When in Hawaii, right?
Next up was a black pebble beach, I think it was called Pailoa Bay. Since it's unpaved it is technically off-limits to rental cars, but we had a wrangler and we're rebels (yeah right). We were so glad we did. Just two cars of locals there, beautiful bay, and the only other tourists there was a couple from Auburn. Got a big War Damn Eagle when we stepped out of the car thanks to Cameron's Auburn hat. :)
Further down the road was Kaumahina State Park with a beautiful overlook - and a chicken. Chickens were wild everywhere!
We decided to pull off the road and go down to Keane - a super tiny town, I'm talking just a few buildings. But the beachfront was beautiful, albeit rough!
Shortly after, we stopped for the Keane overlook to get a view of the town from above
And all along the way we pulled off the road for the overlooks and waterfalls. Some pictures were actually drive-bys because there was no where to pull over.
|"painted" eucalyptus tree|
We stopped for a snack at a little groups of restaurants/shacks. We really wanted to fish tacos, but like our app predicted - they were closed - so we settled for fish and chips.
And I picked up some coconut candy. OMG, I'm addicted. I wish I could have bought it in bulk! Not sure what their honor system would have thought about that... It's really just toasted coconut that was coated in cane syrup. I have got to figure out how to make it!
Just before Hana, we stopped at Waianaopanapa State Park. We walked down to the caves, where legend says a Hawaiian princess was killed by her husband. Then down on the rocks to see a blowhole that we never could see, but got a good view and of course another selfie :)
Once we got to Hana, we found a little food truck (that I don't think was moving anytime soon) and ordered up fish tacos. Neat to try a local version, but we both agreed we liked the ones in Kona better (have I mentioned that we love fish tacos?)
Our road home was when the adventure REALLY started. At first things were going well. We stopped to find a freshwater pool that flowed into the ocean (recommended by our app). Had to ask the guy at the fruit stand where the start of the trail was, then he pointed at cow pasture across the street and told us to crawl through the hole in the fence. Off we went. Totally forgot to take a picture of the actual pools, but it was an area where water accumulates in the rocks then flows into a little bay.
About 3/4 of the way back, we hit a stand still in traffic. We just figured there was a wreck, but then got concerned when a helicopter swooped down low just around the bend in front of us. Uh oh. Just as we were getting out of the jeep to go investigate, a Hawaiian comes walking back and informs us there was a mudslide. He then looks up at the cliff above us and says we aren't exactly sitting in a safe spot either. Keep in mind that we are on a narrow cliff with a huge dropoff just feet away. Suddenly those beautiful views are a little scary. Then the local girls in the car in front of us come back and say that the mudslide is just around the corner in front of us and that the whole road is covered, no way they will clear it until the next day. Nothing like feeling trapped! They told us to turn around and go the long way around the southwestern tip of the island. The thing about that direction is that the road turns into a one lane road that isn't paved for a large section. Oh and there is absolutely nothing there. And no cell phone service. And no gas stations. Great, huh? We probably would have been a little more excited about it if it were still daylight and not raining by that point. I'll be honest - I was convinced we were going to die - by either 1) another mudslide 2) driving off the cliff (did I mention there are no streetlights?) 3) or running out of gas in the middle of nowhere we some rather shady locals. Dramatic much? So we turned around and headed back to Hana - in a hurry. According to my guidebook, the only gas station in the town closes at 6 - it was almost 5:30 when we turned around. Thankfully, the gas station does stay open later so we were able to eliminate #3 of my ways to die list. Then the lady inside acted like we were crazy to attempt it when I asked how bad the road was. I made a last ditch effort to convince Cameron we should stay at one of the few bed & breakfasts in Hana. It didn't work, so off we went. Looking back it wasn't nearly as bad as I expected but it was a very LONG bumpy way home. Thank goodness my amazing husband is a good driver! I had never been so happy to see pavement! We finally made it back to civilization at 10:30 and stopped at the first place we found for food -
|can't believe we ate at McD's in Hawaii!|
The next morning we learned that the Red Cross had opened the school in Hana for everyone trapped by the mudslide - those not brave enough (or crazy enough) to take the alternate route. The mudslide was 100 ft wide and 20 ft high and miraculously no cars were pushed off the road or buried under it. Our road to Hana adventure was definitely not what we expected!
The next morning was our last day in Hawaii. We decided to make the most of it and spent the morning on the beach. Our first day in Maui we had spotted a long skinny stretch of beach on our way to the grocery store. We decided to check it out - never could figure out the name of it (maybe Maalea bay?) but it was the perfect place to end our trip. Practically deserted except for the occasional beach walker.
|the Maui windmills|
After showering and packing up, we headed back to the town of Paia. This is where the road to Hana starts and we had planned to eat dinner there on the way home, but of course that didn't work out! So we headed back for lunch and to wander around. We got fish tacos - yes, again at the Paia Fish Market. Very good and huge. It's a very casual place with long picnic tables. Since it was so busy, we ended up sitting across from a couple in their 60s from California that vacation in Hawaii all the time. It was fun to talk to them about their experiences on the different islands. After lunch we explored the town, did a little shopping, and got another mai tai before heading to the airport for a 7pm flight home.
So that wraps it up! Our trip was amazing and I'm so glad Cameron and I got to experience it together. I'd actually love to go back one day - just not anytime soon! That flight is brutal! :)