We enjoyed driving round the ‘other’, off limits side of the mountain and other ‘forbidden’ roads!
Lahaina is a pleasant town, but north of there is busy. The drive south from there, beside the sea, is beautiful.
So is the west coast, south of the resorts.
We really enjoyed our accommodation at the ‘Peace of Maui’.
Tuesday 17th January On to Maui 7 + 92 miles
It had rained in the night, but we left at 7 o’clock on a fine morning, with the sun just rising over Hilo as we drove through to the airport.
We had a very long wait to check in, but our 8.20 flight to Kahului, Maui, was uneventful.
When we went to collect our hire car, our rental firm directed us to another, as they had no cars available. The car we were given was a posey, silver, 2 door vehicle, which may have looked smart, but didn’t win any points for comfort or ease. The doors were really heavy, the seat belts too far back, and it was difficult to get in and out. The first time I tried to open the boot, I set off a loud alarm that we didn’t know we had!
We found our way to a nearby beach park to eat the ‘breakfast’ which Lory had packed for us – we sadly missed her lovely breakfast this morning, as we had left early.
We decided to drive up the Iao Valley, a scenic route up through a lush steep valley, ending at a small State Park. The thing to see here is the Needle – a large steep rock sticking up on its own. Unfortunately at the moment, the path past it was closed, as they were rebuilding a bridge, so we just had a view of the rock, along with the 2 coachloads of tourists who had arrived!
In fact they had left by the time Adrian came to look, but he wasn’t too impressed, as he thought he had come to see the eye of the needle, and expected a hole in the rock!
On our way back down we stopped to look into a little heritage park, which had buildings representing the many different peoples who had settled in Hawaii - Portuguese, Japanese, Koreans and several more.
We drove through the pleasant town of Wailuku, to reach the eastern coast of what is called West Maui (Maui is shaped like a figure of eight, with two volcanoes separated by a narrow low strip). We started driving up the Kahekilli Highway, expecting to return, as we had read that rental cars couldn’t use a 20 mile narrow, winding section. We found ourselves on this section, and just kept going. The road was very narrow and twisting, but the scenery was quite wonderful, being high above the beautiful coastline.
View from the Kahekilli Highway
We were quite relieved to come back onto the wider section – just before we did, we passed a rental car which had pulled off the road and got very stuck. Oh dear!
We enjoyed the wild scenery as we rounded the northern end, and started down the western side. We saw lots of surfers, with lots more people watching them.
We then came to the resort section, but drove quickly past on the main road, stopping to have a delightful swim at Hanakaoo Beach. It was sandy underfoot, and quite calm.
Lanaiha is a former whaling town, which has now become a really pleasant tourist town, with dozens of shops occupying the old buildings. Our walk around was fairly short, as we had to get to our accommodation which was some way away. We were able to absorb the atmosphere as we walked along by the old harbour, and viewed the old courthouse, with the enormous banyan tree behind, planted in 1873, and stretching now for almost an acre!
The drive along beside the sea was now wonderful, as we made our way around the rest of ‘West Maui’, then up the centre to ‘Peace of Maui’ at Haliimaile.
We had a room here in a largish house, with shared bathrooms and kitchen facilities, and were shown around by the pleasant owner Tammy.
Having got settled in, it was time to go and get something to eat. We drove down to the small town of Paia, a former sugar town, and now a really popular windsurfing spot. The restaurant we chose was pleasant, but quite pricey.
Afterwards we wandered around the strange, bustling little town, which did seem to have a large number of ‘layabouts’ , before Adrian drove us back on the winding roads to ‘Peace of Maui’.
Wednesday 18th January Swimming and snorkelling on the Kihei coast 63 miles
At last we got round to doing the washing – 2 loads, so we should be OK until we get back to Calgary.
We chatted to a young couple, Jeff and Alice, while we got breakfast. She was originally English, and they had 2 little girls – Skye (8), and Aspen (6).
We left at 10.30 and headed for Kihei, stopping for our first swim at Maipoina Oe Lau Beach. We continued south, passing lots of beaches, and swimming next at Keawakapu Beach, where we snorkelled, and saw lots of fish, including long, thin needle fish, but it was a bit sandy.
We drove on through Wailea, which was a bit posh, and had lunch at Palauea Beach, which was really lovely.
At Makuna Landing, which had once been a port exporting cattle, we had a snorkel, as we saw a lot of people snorkelling and diving, but we couldn’t see anything – we think that they must have been going further out. It was a very pretty spot, and we saw a lot of birds, particularly cardinals, which were admiring themselves in the mirrors of the car.
We stopped by the little church, which was in a beautiful spot beside the sea, the graves enhanced by brilliant red poinsettias. The beach in front looked really nice.
Big Beach was just that – a long stretch of beautiful sand, but much busier than the 10 year old Lonely Planet suggested!
We scrambled up over the lava rocks to neighbouring Little Beach, which is still a nudist beach, although the same Lonely Planet suggested that signs prohibited it!
We now drove right down to la Perouse Bay, past the area that rental cars are supposed to go. The road went through a vast area of aa lava, and was right beside the sea. As it was a reserve, it was completely undeveloped. There was a part rainbow inland, which looked really lovely.
It was 4 o’clock as we began our return journey, stopping for our last snorkel at a dear little cove, where the fish were good, both big and tiny, but it was a bit murky.
On our way back to Peace of Maui, we stopped to buy some booze, and some Mexican food for tonight.
When we got back, we had a go in the hot tub, and chatted to many of the other guests, particularly Jeff and Alice, so got to bed much later than intended, before our proposed early start tomorrow.
Thursday 19th January Sunrise at Healeakala 93 miles
We were up at 4.30, although I had hardly slept! We set off to drive up Haleakala to see sunrise from the summit. It was strange driving up on the never ending switchbacks in the dark, with glorious stars up above, and the light of the towns in the Maui valley below. The journey up takes a couple of hours, and we marvelled at the number of other foolish souls who were making the trip! We arrived at the top (10,023ft) and parked, and then realised how chilly it was! We put on our warm clothes and braved it across to the viewing area. Luckily there was a glass sided ‘capsule’, which we could stand inside for much of the time, just braving it out every now and again to photograph the changing colours as the sky lightened. The best colours were when we first arrived, and by 7 o’clock, when the sun actually rose, it was already really light. People were dressed up in all sorts of strange garb - towels and blankets for warmth, but one or two were actually sleeveless!
Sunrise at Haleakala Summit
It was lovely to see the first glimmer as the sun began to show itself, then once it had risen, it was all over, and people went on their various ways. We tucked into a giant croissant in the car, before briefly walking out and then beginning our descent. We had seen the silversword plants, which only grow high up here, and on Mauna Kea on Big Island
We walked a few trails on the way down, the longest being at Homers Grove, where we walked through tall forest and then scrub, and heard delightful birdsong. There was a little campsite here, and we sat in the now warming sun to have a drink, far away from all the people. Apart from being at the summit for sunrise, the other thing to do is to cycle down the mountain, having been driven to the top. This is a very organised affair, with a leader and ‘tailgunner’, and didn’t look much fun for the hundreds of people who were doing it.
We still had much of the day before us, so made our way to the Twin Falls, the first stop on the ‘Road to Hana’ which we hope to drive tomorrow. On the way we stopped to look around the funky little town of Makawao, which is full of art galleries and suchlike.
We had been told that the Twin Falls walk was longer than the guide book suggested, and it certainly was! Mostly it was along a wide, muddy farm track, but then the road divided to the two falls. The one to the left was more than muddy, and had no reward, as you had to then wade through a muddy stream to view the trickle of the falls, which we didn’t!
The second falls were more profitable. After walking along an often narrow path, beside what looked like a Madeiran levada, we ended up at a stony area, where we could scramble into a cool pool beneath a sprinkling waterfall. We both had a pleasant swim before starting on our return walk – we wouldn’t have wanted to have spent this much time while driving to Hana, which is supposed to be a long enough day.
A refreshing swim at Twin Falls
We now drove back past Paia, stopping to watch the dozens of windsurfers at Hookipa Beach, and then buying pizzas to bring back for tonight’s supper.
We got back to Peace of Maui at 4.30.
Friday 20th January The Road to Hana and beyond 108 miles
We left at 8 o’clock to drive the ‘Road to Hana’. We had listened to 2 different CDs describing the route, which Jill and Tony had lent us, and not been impressed by either. We were amused that the Canadian couple staying here (a couple with 6 children and 15 grandchildren!), said that we MUST take the CD from here describing the route. This was yet again a different one, and the reader would win no prizes for narration!
Our first stop along the road was pretty Kaulanapueo Church, built of stone and coral in 1853. The road off to it has now been paved, so it was possible for us to visit.
We called in at the Huelo lookout, looking down to the village where the church was. There was a little stall here, and we bought 2 colourful kites for Felix and Ruby (and wish that we had bought another for Manolo). The young girl serving here was from Hamburg in Germany, and had already travelled a lot.
Next we walked the Waikamoi Trail, where, after the first bit of the track, which was made of steps, I was glad of my hiking stick and boots. The uneven and muddy path led through tall trees and areas of bamboo. The road by now had become winding – apparently there are 600 bends and 54 bridges along its 52 mile length – and the vegetation lush and tropical. This side of the island receives 400 inches of rain, compared with 10 inches on the western side. We were really lucky, as the weather was beautiful.
We were glad that good old Lonely Planet suggested visiting Haipuaena Falls, which was just after Puohokamoa Falls (which we didn’t find – we think that they were closed, as we passed a gate with a sign on it - few sites are marked along the route)
Haipuaena Falls are hidden from the road, and LP suggested it was a good place for a skinny dip. As we had walked there unprepared, this is what I did. Drying myself afterwards with a tiny tissue (the only thing we had with us), we had just set off back along the muddy path when a family with 3 young children came along!
We drove down on a rough road to pretty Honomanu Bay, where we had coffee and a delicious pastry bought yesterday.
Our next walk was through Keanae Arboretum, which was lovely, and reminded us of the tropical gardens of southern Devon and Cornwall. Apart from various types of trees, including the attractive rainbow eucalypts, with their colourful bark, there were pretty ginger plants, and areas of taro. Taro is grown in flooded fields, a bit like rice, and for centuries was the mainstay of Hawaiian diet. Its roots were pounded to make poi (we had come across this in the Marquesas, but made from breadfruit). Although bland to taste, taro is apparently really nutritious.
View from Keanae Arboretum
We drove down to the Keanae peninsula, where there were more fields of taro, and where huge waves pounded the lava shore.
At nearby Wailua, which we had turned off to, we had a view of distant Waikoni Falls, and visited another pretty church, called Our lady of Fatima, built in 1860. From an overlook back on the road, we were able to look down to this Hawaiian village, with more fields of taro.
Our lady of Fatima Church
We had our lunch at Pua’aka’a State Park, and after that there were fewer places to pull off to. We stopped by some roadside stalls and bought pork and fish tacos and breadfruit, cooked over a mesquite fire, for our supper tonight.
We drove down to Wainapana, where we walked down to a pretty black sand beach, where the waves were pounding. We walked right through a low cave. There was another trail here through 2 lava tubes, but I had taken a path up from the beach, which I later realised was a coastal trail, so we didn’t get anywhere, and by now time was running out!
We arrived at Hana at 3 o’clock. We drove down to the beach park, but as we wanted to drive on further, we didn’t stop long.
We passed the picture-postcard Wailua falls, and soon came to the Pools of Oheo, which are back in the Haleakala National Park. I had been hoping for a swim in one of these attractive 7 pools, but all were closed to swimming at the moment because of the high water level. We had a walk around this waterfall area, but then had to make our big decision. The road onward from here, which skirts the lower slopes of Haleakala, is partly a dirt road, and is ‘off limits’ to rental cars. We still preferred this option, to driving back the long and winding way we had come, so we decided to go for it. Everything made out that the road was really difficult, but we thought that it was wonderful, as it hugged the shore, sometimes high above the sea on a narrow track cut into the rock. There were a lot of blind bends, which were a bit hairy, and we hoped that no-one was coming the other way, but the views of the crater above made up for it. At one point we had to stop, as we thought that the road was blocked, but in fact it was the local cowboys, rounding up their cattle on horseback!
Another time we stopped to see a rainbow on the side of Haleakala high above us. The land became drier as we neared the western side, and we drove through a huge deep gulley. Then we had wonderful views as the sun got lower in the sky, and went down over the islands of Lanai, Molokini and then Molokai and West Maui. We stopped several times, and finally had to wait in the still evening air to see it actually set. A treasured moment!
We arrived back at Peace of Maui at 6.45, having had a wonderful day. After a soak in the hot tub, we ate our tacos for supper, having chatted to a newly arrived lady from Boston, and then chatting to Alice until 11.30.
Saturday 21st January Our last day on Maui 71 miles
We left mid morning for Kahalui, where we visited the ‘Swap meet’ Saturday market, bumping into Jeff and Alice. We bought one or two things, then phoned Simon while we were waiting for the Hula dancing to start in the shopping mall. I loved seeing the young children dance, particularly the youngest, aged about 4, and being just a tiny bit behind the others!
We left at 1.40 to drive towards Lahaina. We stopped at Olowalu, where we had a really good snorkel, followed by an unheard of laze on the beach, as we had borrowed some beach mats from the house.
The beach near Olowalu
At Launiopoko it was too stony to surf, so we continued to Hanakaoo Beach, where we had snorkelled on the first day. Here we managed to have a bit of a body surf with the boards we had borrowed, but the surf wasn’t really right today. I had a good swim afterwards.
We then realised that it was time to return, so made the lovely journey back beside the sea, which looked really calm.
We arrived back at Peace of Maui at 6.15, and packed up ready for our early morning flight to Molokai tomorrow. After a dip in the hot tub, we enjoyed a beer with Jeff and Alice, followed by supper. We said our goodbyes to this lovely couple, and came back to our room at 11 o’clock.