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Maui

A friend’s wedding gave another excuse to fly to Hawaii! This time to the island of Maui.

Açaí bowls, how I missed you

Açaí bowls, how I missed you

Maui was explained to me as more of a rural experience than Oahu. Once you leave the suburban feel of the ‘big’ city of Kahului (box stores galore!) this is quite true.

We made our base of operations out of Kihei, which is relatively central on the island between the wedding location of Lahaina and the adventurous east coast of the island. Our AirBnB was very close to the ocean! And yes, I attempted and failed gloriously to paddle board while there. Apparently I can’t keep my balance. I blame the height!

Kahului to Kihei trek became very well known since I was the driver of the rental car and was ferrying our crew in and out of the airport all week.

The highlight of Maui, in my opinion, is the Haleakala volcano on the east side. It dominates the view and a windy, switchback-filled ride to the top reveals a beautiful vista above the clouds. Note that the crater is not actually volcanic but was formed through erosion.

The crater

The crater

DSC00748

We were really high up

A popular tourist thing to do is paying for a trailer to pull you to the top and then mountain bike down the switchback (brakes are very important!). We didn’t actually do that, but we passed plenty of tourists who were.

We hiked into the crater for about 90 minutes but the employees at the park were quick to warn us not to go too far since you have to come back up. It was quite the jaunt, and yes, the back of our hands got burnt! Always a risk when you’re not thinking about the sun because it’s so windy and cool.

We hiked that!

We hiked that!

We spent a couple of days in and around Lahaina, the bigger tourist city on the west side of the island. The beaches (surrounded by resorts, of course) were probably the most quintessential idyllic beaches I’ve ever seen. We lounged and swam to our hearts content.

Tough life on Lahaina beaches

Tough life on Lahaina beaches

The tourist center of the town is dominated by a tree (or is it multiple trees?) which create quite the canopy over a central square near the docks.

Beautiful tree at the center of Lahaina

Beautiful tree at the center of Lahaina

We took a tourist submarine down to the bottom of the ocean! So many fish!

Fiiiiiish

Fiiiiiish

Dive! Dive! Dive!

Dive! Dive! Dive!

Sunset in Lahaina

Sunset in Lahaina

While there I tried a local specialty called the “loco moco” which is basically a hamburger, rice, gravy, and fried eggs. I thought it would be novel and mix well – it didn’t. Shaved ice, however, was delicious and we partook several times on that front.

A nearby bar hosted a parrot someone had taught to say curse words.

Dirty-mouthed parrot

Dirty-mouthed parrot

The wedding itself was on yet another day near Lahaina – a beautiful day at that.

Nice view to have a wedding

Nice view to have a wedding

The other grand trip on Maui is the east coast trip around the volcano’s base. A two lane (paved) road called the Hana Highway curls around the coast making for some fantastic, scary driving. It’s advantageous to leave the core of the island quite early to beat the rush, so we went as fast as our car’s crew could that morning.

Beautiful views at a highway overlook

Beautiful views at a highway overlook

One highlight is the Twin Falls Farm Stand, which really is an excuse to wade around waterfalls. (Editor’s note: we actually went here a different day and turned around before continuing on!). We also got to ford some rapid (though shallow) streams, which was exciting.

Note to self: when travelling to island paradises, bring water shoes with rubber soles. We made it to the falls but had to very slowly walk along extremely sharp rocks to the waterfall. It was fun otherwise, though!

Ow ow ow

Ow ow ow

One cool stop was the lava tubes – basically where lava made a roundish tunnel rapidly like a snake boring through the ground. There is private property that has a tunnel entrance down into the tubes. It has very unique geological qualities, none of which I remember of course!

Hello tunnel

Hello tunnel

Sunlight peeking into the tunnel

Sunlight peeking into the tunnel

Another stop along the Hana Highway was Kaumahina State Wayside Park which is a black rock beach. It looks beautiful but the water was dangerous so we didn’t get in too far. Awesome tunnel next to the beach, though!

Beautiful Kaumahina

Beautiful Kaumahina

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The tunnel at the rock beach

We did make a pit stop in the town on Hana which wasn’t much to look at but it, too, had a beach park. We had some interesting fried fish from a local fast-food style restaurant near the water while a local stray dog looked on with envy.

Obviously we needed to swim again, so we made a little detour to hit up Hamoa beach nearby. We spent a good hour frolicking in some significant waves under some grey skies.

Hamoa beach

Hamoa beach

The last part of the trip around the island is ‘not recommended’ by a lot of maps because the road is largely rough and unfinished. Most people turn back at the town called Hana and reverse direction. Our troop voted “no!”, though, so onward! We were also a little worried because we were warned to not be on the road after dark due to some muggings that occur sometimes with locals forcing you off the road. It was uneventful as far as that went, though.

As the driver, I had to reach into my Vermont road experience to make our way around narrow one-lane, blind corner curves. Lots of spots had rusted guardrails about to wash into the sea. We had a couple of standoffs and tucked-in side mirrors with other cars where one of us had to back up to let the other past. It was a little white-knuckled, but we made it.

We finally popped out of the cliffside driving and came to the volcanic field from the last eruption around 1790. It is a rather barren land of dark, cooled lava in all directions.

Cooled lava field

Cooled lava field

On the way back around the volcano we had a very surreal experience. A local popped out onto the road, screaming at us to pull over. I balked at first, but suddenly realized why – they were stampeding horses between fields! Suddenly we were surrounded by horses all around us – this brought a smile to our faces. Sadly I don’t have a picture.

We stopped shortly after to have some photos of the sunset, though.

Sunset over the valley

Sunset over the valley

Our final day we rushed out of Kihei for one last shot of Hawaii by getting to the lava fields south of Kihei to see the waves break against them. Once again, we ‘sort of’ off-roaded it with our rental car and made it there for a short hike. The water was beautiful, crashing against the rocks. We were shocked people were surfing so near the rocks, though!

Boom!

Boom!

Rocks and waves

Rocks and waves

After a very full week, it was a bittersweet goodbye. Hopefully I’ll be back to Hawaii some day to visit another of the islands.

Goodnight, sun!

Goodnight, sun!

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