Sunday, March 03, 2013

Maui wowie

Dan and I are back after a week of exploring Maui, my first time to the island! I've been infected by a bug since returning, first sore throat and now fever and cough too. Bleh. At least I wasn't sick while traveling though.

We took advantage of a Hawaiian Airlines fare sale back in November; the deals don't usually coincide with my time off but this one overlapped with February break, hooray! Maui is very different from the Big Island, which we visited a few years ago. My brother has been to Maui several times and recommended renting a condo for the week, but it turns out February is the busiest time of year and everything was booked. So we split up our time in a few different places. Hawaiian Airlines was great, it was nice having a row to ourselves and they even serve food. And complimentary rum punch! We saw a rainbow as the plane approached Maui, the first of many.

Rainbow from the plane
Rainbow

It was raining after we landed, high winds too. Yikes! We picked up the rental car, a convertible, but had to leave the top up. We drove to Pa'ia and had lunch at Flatbread Company, which has a huge wood-fired oven. We enjoyed the pizza...kalua pork with mango BBQ sauce and pineapple...mmm...and I tried a Maui Brewing Company root beer too. Then we walked to the beach.

Beach near Pa'ia
Beach near Pa'ia

It was close to check-in time, so we made our way to Hale Ho'okipa Inn in Makawao. We walked around town and went in a few galleries, then drove up to Kula Lodge for dinner. Saw more rainbows on the way. The gardens at Kula Lodge are pretty, also featured a huge wood-fired oven...seems to be a theme in Maui. Dinner was tasty, and I had pineapple sparkling wine from the local winery...mmm...the view of South Maui and Lana'i was lovely.

Kula Lodge view
Sunset over South Maui

The next morning we enjoyed a huge spread for breakfast, including eggs from host Cherie's chickens, then headed out for the Road to Hana. First we picked up some goodies from Komoda Bakery in town...the line was long! Before the trip I wasn't sure about driving the backside road after Hana, but when Dan asked at the car rental place, the girl said "Sure you can drive it, just be careful." Cherie recommended we start in that direction, to arrive at the national park earlier, so we went for it. It wasn't raining, so we put the top down for the drive. Our first stop on the reverse trip of the Road to Hana was the Sun Yat Sen Memorial. There were great views of Lana'i and Kaho'olawe along the southern part of the road.

Kaho'olawe
Kaho'olawe

A local told us this was the island of the future King of Hawaii. It was used for military testing until recently. We passed by an impressive row of wind turbines, then the unpaved stretch of the road, which wasn't too bad. It was still early so there weren't many cars on the road. Then we arrived at Ohe'o Gulch!

Ohe'o Gulch
Ohe'o Gulch

The surf was too high to swim in the pools, but we hiked the Pipiwai Trail through the bamboo forest to Waimoku Falls. Where I ran into a student's family on the trail!

Dan in the bamboo forest
Dan hiking in the bamboo forest

At the falls
We made it!

Waimoku Falls
Waimoku Falls

We had our cream puffs from Komoda at the waterfall. The parking lot was full and several tour buses had arrived when we finished the hike, so I was glad we took the reverse trip route. Next we went to the Venus Pool, on my brother's recommendation. I was too scared to jump in from the high rocks though.

Venus Pool
Venus Pool

We stopped at the red sand beach in Hana. The sand is very coarse to walk on, but it makes a pretty beach.

Red sand beach
Red Sand Beach 

We also stopped at Wai'anapanapa State Park, where we saw a mongoose in the parking lot and checked out the black sand beach. No turtles like on the Big Island though.

View from black sand beach
View from the black sand beach

The Road to Hana features many, many one-lane bridges, waterfalls, and lush greenery. We took a detour down Nahiku Road to an overlook. The clouds were gathering in the sky. We ate our malasadas from Komoda at this pretty spot.

Nahiku
Ominous sky

End of the road
The end of the road

We are in Maui!
One more stop before dusk

More clouds as dusk approached, and I suggested we put the top up. A few minutes later it started to rain! The convertible was definitely fun for the drive though. Next time I would like to stay in Hana for a night so we can take more time for all the stops along the way. It was dark by the time we got back to Makawao. We picked up dinner at Pukalani Superette and ate at the inn. The butterfish was quite tasty...we both would like to try some of their other prepared dishes.

The next day we were up before dawn for the drive up to Haleakala. Cherie lent us some big coats, which I was very thankful for as it was very, very cold up there. And crowded! The summit parking lot was full, so we viewed the crater from the visitor center. As the time drew closer, the clouds moved in, which obscured the sunrise.

Haleakala
Weather, weather...

As we drove down from the crater,  the dawn color over South Maui was even prettier. Also we saw cute billy goats and several pheasants. No nene though...

Driving down Haleakala
Dawn color over South Maui

We made it back in time for another big spread for breakfast, then went to the Hui N'eau Visual Arts Center to see the art exhibit, but they had just taken it down! Phooey. We walked around the grounds looking for nene, but no luck. There was a hike I wanted to do, but it started raining. A lot. We waited for awhile, then gave up. We drove back to Pa'ia and checked out the health foods store Mana Foods, picked up a taro burger and kale salad for a picnic lunch at the beach. I was disappointed in the taro burger, not much taro flavor. Then I walked on the beach while Dan tried to get sand out of his shoes.

Tavares Beach
Tavares Beach

Then we drove to Kahului and eventually found the Kanaha Pond Bird Sanctuary. We walked along a few paths and saw some Hawaiian stilts and Hawaiian coots in the ponds. Then went across the street and watched the kite surfers at the beach for awhile before making our way to Wailuku.

Kanaha Beach Park
Kanaha Beach Park

Kite Beach
 Kite surfers

We checked into the Old Wailuku Inn, and after a lil' nap it was time to head out for dinner. The sun was shining, so we drove to Mama's Fish House with the top down, yipee.

Outside Mama's Fish House
 Windy

Mama's Fish House
Pretty spot 

The setting was lovely, but the restaurant is huge! And packed. And spendy. We started with the three fish sashimi. The salmon was my favorite, and the Hawaiian salts were very nice with the fish. We were surrounded by tropical drinks, but I had a rosé. Dan tried the Coconut Porter from Maui Brewing Company, which we both liked. The warm bread was yummy too. Dan had the lobster-stuffed mahi mahi, and I had the Hawaiian snapper. The food was tasty, but soooo expensive.  

The next morning we headed out on the Kahekili Highway to West Maui. What a crazy drive, way crazier than the Road to Hana. The coast views reminded me a bit of Big Sur. We saw more waterfalls and some piggies and lil' piglets, so cute...also a hound dog guarding a driveway, methinks it may have been a beagle...

Along Kahekili Highway
Kahekili Highway

Orange stripe of lava rock
Orange stripe of lava rock 

We stopped at the olivine pools and the Nakalele Blowhole; the blowhole was quite impressive. Eventually we made it to Honolua Bay. There were people snorkeling, so we decided to take a look. We trekked through the forest on a muddy trail to get to the bay. I saw some fish, but was not super impressed by the coral. I think maybe I didn't go far enough out, as I have read this is one of the best snorkel spots in Maui.

Honolua Bay
Honolua Bay 

Chickens at Honolua Bay
Honolua chickens

Next we stopped at Kapalua Bay. I think this is the prettiest beach in Maui, but I somehow forgot to take a picture. We were snorkeling in the water when it started pouring rain. Pouring! We got back in the car and continued to drive. The rain stopped when we got to Ka'anapali, so we decided to snorkel at Black Rock, outside the Sheraton, where we saw our first sea turtle on Maui. It was huge. When we got out of the water, it was eating close to shore. People were rather excited, lots of screaming.

We were going to check out the whale museum at Whalers Village, but ended up skipping it. The humongous whale skeleton was impressive though. And we saw some interesting old maps of San Francisco at the Lahaina Printsellers gallery. It was pouring rain as we drove back to Wailuku. We picked up chicken katsu and miso butterfish at Ichiban Okazuya, a takeout spot near the inn. Yummy!

The next morning we headed out to Iao Valley. The trail was much shorter than I expected. I thought there would be more hiking trails in the park. It was misty and rainy.

Iao Valley
Iao Needle

Then we walked around Kepaniwai Park & Heritage Gardens, a serene spot with tributes to Hawaii's heritages.
  
Japanese memorial
Japanese memorial

Dan on the bridge
Dan on a bridge

Giant banyan tree
Dan under a giant banyan tree

It was time for malasadas, so we stopped at Four Sisters Bakery, then checked out the restored Iao Theater. We walked around the Maui Nui Botanical Gardens, where we saw students pounding the fibers of a native plant to make textiles, and the rare white hibiscus of Molokai. Then we headed south to the Kealia Pond National Wildlife Refuge. Walking around the ponds, we saw more Hawaiian stilts and Hawaiian coots, some plovers, and a few other birds.

Kealia Pond National Wildlife Refuge
Kealia Pond National Wildlife Refuge

We walked along the boardwalk on the other side of the refuge, then on Sugar Beach for a stretch. Dan walked on the beach! He definitely got sand in his shoes.

Sugar Beach
Sugar Beach

It was lunchtime, so we continued south to Kihei. We shared fish tacos and fish 'n chips at Coconuts Fish Cafe, it was quite tasty. It was definitely warmer in Kihei...south Maui is the place to be in winter! After checking in, we put the top down and headed south to Makena Beach.

Makena Beach
Makena Beach

The surf seemed rough, so we headed to Makena Landing. It's a tiny spot, but the entry was easy and the water was calmer. Saw lots of fish and a few more sea turtles. After snorkeling, we did the Wailea beach walk from Ulea Beach to the Fairmont. I enjoyed walking by the resorts, checking out the grounds and comparing the swimming pools. We saw three different weddings, a few whales from shore, then stopped to see the sunset.

Wailea beach walk
Wailea beach walk

Wailea sunset
Wailea sunset

Moon
Moon over Wailea

After sunset it was time to look for dinner. It was Fourth Friday in Kihei, and the town party was packed! After circling around a few times, we finally found a parking spot. What a scene! The strip mall where we had lunch was full of food trucks, entertainment, and so many people. We had the coconut shrimp at Kinaole and tried a few other things too. Then it was time for bed.

We were up early the next morning for our boat trip with Blue Water Rafting. We saw whales right away, but no breaching. Mostly mamas and calves...blowholes and tails. The highlight was seeing pods of spinner dolphins in La Perouse Bay, the juveniles were doing amazing flips, what a show! It was a wild ride to the Kanaio coast...bumpy, fast, and wet!

Kanaio coast
Kanaio coast

Then it was time for snorkeling. I think we snorkeled in four spots. Not too many boats left when we got to Molokini, so it wasn't crowded. The water was coooooold! But crystal clear, lots of fish, and I spotted an eel in the coral. Then to the backside of Molokini, where there is a huge wall of coral. We jumped in and were literally surrounded by schools of fish...amazing. Then to turtle town, where we saw several turtles, though we weren't surrounded by them. Also saw a bunch of turtles floating on the way back to the boat dock...I had put my camera away because of the wet ride, so no photos. It was a great trip!

The sun was still shining back on land, so we put the top down and headed to Ululani's for my first shave ice on Maui. I couldn't believe I didn't have my first shave ice until day 6 on the island! I got mine with macadamia nut ice cream, lilikoi, mango and lychee. Dan had coconut ice cream with pineapple, mango, lilikoi, I think. Ice cream on the bottom of the shave ice seems to be a thing on Maui, we didn't see it on the Big Island. It was so yummy. And! I saw a beagle while enjoying my shave ice.

Then we did the Kihei beach walk, which turned out to be a short path. I convinced Dan to relax on the beach for awhile, despite the sand. So I read for a bit on Kam III and actually got to do some sunning! I was getting hungry (the lunch sandwiches on the boat trip weren't much), so we picked up a huli huli chicken and had an early picnic dinner at Kalama Park. Then walked for a bit along the path, fun to see people biking, roller skating, and walking their dogs.

Kalama Park
Kalama Park

The hosts at the B&B make dinner for the guests every Saturday night, so we joined them on the deck for a second dinner.  The homemade bread was sooo yummy. There was a party next door with a band, so there was live entertainment too! Then it started to rain, and it was time for bed.

Dan woke me up the next morning to drive down to La Perouse Bay to look for dolphins. The lava flow and bumpy road makes it seem like driving to the end of the earth. No dolphins though. We talked to someone who had swam with a manta ray (cool!), but she didn't see dolphins. Dan thought maybe it was too late in the morning, and they had left for the day. The entry looked very challenging, so we turned around and headed to Big Beach. What a beautiful beach! It was a clear day so there were great views of Kaho'olawe and Molokini. I laid in the sun while Dan read in the shade. A man fishing from shore said a turtle swam by him, so Dan got into the water and saw the turtle.

Big Beach
Big Beach

We were getting hungry for lunch, so we drove up the road and picked up kalua pork sliders on taro rolls, cole slaw, and grilled pineapple at a food truck, and had a picnic at Po'olenalena Beach. It was so crowded there! Maybe because it was a Sunday afternoon. We snorkeled a couple times, with sunning (me) and reading in the shade (Dan) in between. We saw more fish and sea turtles, including a turtle napping under the rocks. Then it was time for shave ice. This time we went to Local Boys, since it was close to the B&B. The shop was out of small cups, so we shared a medium with macadamia nut ice cream and mochi, guava, mango, and likiloi. The medium was huge! The ice was not as finely shaven as at Ululani's, but it was still tasty.

Then after a shower we headed up the road to West Maui. We stopped at Papawai Point to check out the whales. We saw a calf put on a great show, jumping out of the water many times, pretty close to shore. Then as we continued up the road, it started to rain! We saw some rainbows, and luckily the rain stopped before we reached Lahaina. We checked in at the Feast at Lele, and walked around until it was time to be seated.

Feast at Lele
Waiting to be seated 


Feast at Lele
Front row seats

The food was pretty good, and the show was great. Dan tried beers from Fiji and Tahiti, and I discovered the lava flow...a pina colada with strawberry and banana swirl...yum! There wasn't much of a sunset that night, but it was still a great view.

Lei
Last night in Maui


We woke up early on our last morning and drove down to La Perouse Bay again, in hopes of swimming with the dolphins. We walked farther than the previous day, and discovered a couple of small beaches with easier entry, but no dolphins. So we drove up to Ahihi and went snorkeling at "the dumps." We asked a man sitting on the rocks if he had seen any dolphins, no luck that day. He said his wife swam with them a few days ago, but it seemed they had moved to another spot. We went snorkeling and saw lots of coral, fish, and another turtle. Then it was time to pack up and head to the airport...the week went by so quickly! I enjoyed visiting Maui, though the weather and water were much cooler than I expected. I was barely tan when we left! I still hope to swim with the dolphins someday. And next time I want to eat more ice cream and shave ice!