Maui, Hawaii - May 12-15
May 15, 2010
|May 12, 2010
Today we had another one of those stupidly early flights that I’m just about getting fed up with! This one was at 8am which meant a hotel pickup of 5am. Of course, 8am isn’t too early but 5am sure is! I think in future my flight planning will involve flights around lunchtime to enable us to have a reasonable wake-up call!
However, the early start worked to our advantage as after the very short flight (barely 20 minutes airborne) we picked up our hire car and were on our way. We were going to spend most of our time on Maui in Kihei along the West coast but planned to spend the first night in Hana on the East. The Hana Highway is supposedly one of the most beautiful drives in the world and we knew that much of the 30 or so mile drive was slow, narrow twists and turns. We stopped in a small town called Paia just outside Kahului Airport for a packed lunch and headed off.
The drive was pretty tough going but the constant mile markers gave you a good indication of where you were and what was around you. Armed with a couple of information magazines and the Lonely Planet guide on the laptop, we picked a few points to stop at along the way to walk around or just to take in the scenery and get some snaps. The first major stop was around the 2 mile marker on the second highway we hit and was a lovely waterfall. This one was hidden in the forest along a short trail but it was easy to spot by the number of cars parked on the roadside! We had planned to swim at some of the falls along the way but given how busy this one was we decided to pass and carry on along the route.
The next major stop was a bit of a mistake. We thought we had reached a small secluded waterfall with a pool to swim in. We had found one of those but it was not the one we had intended. The pool for this one was way down the valley and to get there you needed proper climbing gear and rope and so we didn’t even try to get down there! About a mile further along the road though we did find the quiet spot we wanted and got to cool off and swim in a lovely little pool. The area around here is so lovely and lush and just lying in a beautiful pool surrounded by so many different greens from the trees and plants was a great way to relax along the way.
At one of the next stops I managed to break my flip-flops which meant I was left with just one pair of walking shoes until I could find somewhere to replace them. We had hoped this would be Hana but upon checking into our hotel we discovered from the owner that there is very little of note in Hana, including restaurants. Those which were in the town either closed at 4pm or there were a couple which were open late… until 7pm! Of these choices, one was a $60 per head buffet style meal and the other was just a local pub. We picked the pub called the Hana Ranch and there we both tried some local dishes. Elizabeth tried a pork noodle dish called Saiman and I had the Loco Moco, a burger on top of rice, with fried eggs and gravy. Whilst mine was a weird mix it was actually very enjoyable although I think Elizabeth didn’t exactly feel the same way about her noodles!
May 13, 2010
Today we were due to head back along the Hana Highway but not before we ventured a little further along, taking in another 10 miles or so until we reached the southern tip of the Haleakala National Park at Kipahula. This stretch is supposed to be the best section of the drive and it was very scenic, even more so than yesterday, with some great ocean views along the way. The road on the final stretch was narrow and barely one lane at some points, winding so much it was impossible to see around the bends. The 10 miles seemed to take a long time but we were glad to get to the national park early before the crowds arrived. We first took a short path down to a small set of waterfalls and the Pools of Oheo, also known as the Seven Sacred Pools. We decided we would take on the longer hike and come back here later for a dip in the pools. So from there we set off and did a two hour walk through some lovely forest to reach some smaller waterfalls before we found a really cool bamboo forest which led to a large 400ft waterfall. We were grateful that the route was mostly shaded so after the initial sweat going up the hill we soon settled down and cooled off. When we got to the large waterfall the spray was going everywhere and it was actually pleasant to feel the spray cooling us off in the hot and humid conditions.
We walked back and then headed to the Seven Sacred Pools and had a swim under the waterfall. The water didn’t feel as cold as yesterday and the fall was actually quite powerful, making swimming towards it pretty tough! A lady from California was sat watching her husband and son swim around and offered to take a picture of us. We told her we didn’t have a camera but she said she could use her phone and then email it to us! She took some pics and sent them to my email which was really nice of her to offer. To get to the falls you had to cross the river lower down and this meant crossing some precarious rocky areas. It wasn’t too bad for us on our second trip but as we were leaving we saw an old gentleman fall over, dropping his bag and camera in the river. He had barely got back on his feet when he fell again. We were half way up the steps to the trail but I ran back down and across the river to help him whilst everyone else around just stood and watched the poor guy struggle. One couple about my age even just sat and pointed at him saying “oh, that old guy just fell over” and “oh, he did it again”. I wonder how these people would feel if one of their elderly relatives fell and was hurt and people just stood and pointed. The old man was a little shaken up and embarrassed and had a nasty cut on his shin but he seemed intent on carrying on with his wife.
From there we faced a long drive back to Kihei. The drive isn’t long in distance, about 50 miles in total, but takes about 3 hours with the windy road. We stopped in Hana at the ridiculous “convenience” store and grabbed a drink and some snacks and on the way back we stopped at a store called “Halfway to Hana” for their freshly made banana bread.
After that we drove right through to Kihei where we checked into the Aston Maui Lu hotel. The hotel has a real 1970s feel to it and reminds me a lot of the hotel we stayed at in Alice Springs. The décor is certainly a few years out of date but our room is large, has a private bathroom and even a table and sofa. It’s like true luxury for us!
Given we hadn’t had a proper lunch we headed out for an early dinner. A local bar called Beach Bums had a happy hour on until 6pm so we headed though with the great idea of drinking $3 beers for long enough until we were hungry. Given it was already 5pm we didn’t have long and given I was driving it wasn’t going to be a heavy night but it was so nice just to sit out on the harbour, drinking beer and watching the world go by. Our hunger soon took over and we ordered some good old style pub food with me settling for a mahi-mahi burger and Elizabeth a regular burger topped with jalapenos, onion rings and whatever else you could stuff into a bun, accompanied by some lovely healthy fries and spicy barbeque sauce. It was like heaven in a crappy local bar!
We went to bed early-ish as we intended to get up early to get to the Haleakala NP for sunrise. The early night didn’t really materialize though as I wasn’t tired so we ended up watching Air Force One on the TV!
May 14, 2010
After not getting as much sleep as we intended, the alarm going off at 3.15am was an unwelcome noise and the brief discussion of “Do you want to get up?”, “No”, “OK” was all I needed to turn the alarm off, roll over and go back to sleep!
We were still up fairly early and still planned to go to the NP so we headed out around 9am for another drive of long, windy roads! We didn’t know what walks, if any, were at the peak of the park so we went prepared for a mini-hike if we got a chance. As it turned out, most of the walks in the park are longer hikes from the peak down into the crater. We certainly weren’t prepared for that and as the altitude at the top was over 10,000m we were conscious of feeling the symptoms we’d suffered in Cusco. We had a wander around and visited the two visitor centres at the entry to the park and the summit and spoke to one of the rangers. She showed us an instrument they use to look at the sun and it was really cool watching the sun move in the viewing area of the instrument and out of sight in just a few seconds. It sounds silly because you know the earth is moving in relation to the sun but you rarely get to actually notice it. Having such an instrument in front of you, in a fixed place, shows just how quickly the planet really moves in relation to the sun.
The area at the crater is really amazing and looks like something you would expect to see on a sci-fi movie or on a documentary about the moon. In fact, this area is often used by the US research centres to recreate lunar conditions for training purposes and you could easily see why. Combined with being above the cloud level it was a really different experience to what we had seen yesterday at Kipahula despite being in the exact same national park!
We headed straight back into Kihei for some lunch and decided to take the advice of one of the radio commercials we keep hearing. Listening to local radio can give you some ideas of things to see and do but can also get the names of places ingrained into your thinking. When I looked on the GPS for restaurants near our hotel I immediately noticed the name of Pizza Madness, something we’d heard a million adverts for, all of them ridiculously stupid. We decided to eat there and I had this image of a run-down pizza takeaway shack and from the exterior that is what it looked like, too! Inside though it was a nice little restaurant and we were soon tucking into a massive pepperoni pizza!
We spent the afternoon lazing around and relaxing and made the most of our leftover pizza and beer from the convenience store to ensure we finished the day nice and laid back, too!
May 15, 2010
We had a bit of a drive around today, heading a bit further north to see the island there. We started off first at the Iao State Park to see the Iao Needle. This is a small hill surrounded by larger ones which just juts up in the middle of the valley. It wasn’t what we were expecting and the walks around the park weren’t much either, with the main circular route taking us about 20 minutes, rather than the hour suggested by the information board in the car park! We were hoping to be able to walk along the valley towards the needle but all you got were long distance views of it. It was a lovely little area and a shame we couldn’t walk around a bit more but by the time we were heading back we bypassed a tour group so it was a good time to leave!
Our next stop was the Ocean Center. The entry was quite expensive and like many aquariums we left a little disappointed in the overall value but at least they had some different things here. We saw hammerhead sharks, an octopus walking around the glass tank, loads of eels (white-mouthed, zebra, dragon), longnose butterflyfish, unicorn fish, white and black tip sharks, eagle rays and a couple of baby turtles. Seeing the hammerheads was great as they were in a tank with decent viewing from both above and underwater. These fish are so weird looking but so cool too – I’d love to see them diving!
From there we drove further north into Laihana where we stopped at the Hard Rock Café for lunch, finally bough a magnet and then walked around the shops, including an old poster shop. This shop had original posters advertising films and all kinds of other products, some of which were over 100 years old.
We continued our drive around Kahana, which was mostly a holiday resort with hotels and large houses lining the ocean drive. We had been looking for the nearby brewery, too, but we couldn’t find it so we headed back to the hotel and had an early night.