Our favorite Hawaiian island is Maui. We have been to Maui several times, and were actually married there at Kapalua a few years ago. There are lots of activities available on the island, especially those related to the numerous beautiful sandy beaches – swimming, sunning, walking, snorkeling, surfing, windsurfing and so on. But when you are tired of all that, what else is there to do? In this blog post I am going to suggest to you several adventures that you can pursue, show you some pictures and provide a few tips.
So here we go.
Road to Hana (all day)
Hana is a small town on the southeast coast of Maui. It is located about 42 miles from the small town of Paia, itself a neat shopping experience. The road to Hana is a windy, narrow – but paved – road which contains literally 54 bridges – mostly one way – and some 600 hairpin turns. The scenery is spectacular, with great views of the ocean, the lush rain forest and many cascading waterfalls. The whole trip will take 6-10 hours, depending on how many stops you make. There are many places with hikes, so if you want to do that, the trip will take all day. The “adventure is the journey” as they say; Hana is not the principal objective at all, although it is a very nice little place with a good beach and the only gas station around.
Here are four key tips:
- Gas up in Hana
- Download the app from GyPSy Guide called “Road to Hana – Maui”. The narrator will tell you where and where not to stop using GPS signals all the way past Hana; he considers five sights as “must stops”.
- Eat at the food stands at mile 30 or at the BBQ at mile 29. The food is nourishing if not gourmet!
- Consider driving past Hana all along the south side of the island. Parts of the road are a little rough but the scenery and changes in environment should not be missed.
Haleakala (half day)
There are two non-active volcanoes on Maui. If you want to see molten lava, go to the Big Island! However the tallest of the two on Maui is Haleakala at 10,023′ above sea level. The “crater” is actually now a valley carved by erosion. Above 7000′ this is a US National Park, and also offers many opportunities for biking (from 700′ down) and hiking. The real attraction since the late 1800’s has been to watch the sun rise over the volcanic crater. As Samuel Clemens wrote “this was the sublimest spectacle I have ever witnessed”. While sunrise is the big attraction, sunset is also a spectacle and visits during daylight hours offer fantastic views of Maui, Molokai, Lanai and the sea.
Here are four tips:
- Register your vehicle with the Park Service ahead of time. http://www.recreation.gov. Only 140 vehicles are allowed up the mountain before 7 am.
- Allow 2 hours from Kihei, and plan to be at the top at least 30 minutes before official sunrise.
- Dress warmly. Temperatures can go to freezing and below, and it can be windy.
- For the best views, stand by the railing adjacent to the Visitor Center at the end of the parking lot.
Whale Watching (two hours)
During the winter months, humpback whales arrive in Hawaii from Alaska primarily to breed. A favorite area is the waters between Maui, and Molokai and Lanai as it is relatively shallow and protected. Between December and March there are many opportunities to go whale watching out of Ma’alaea or Lahaina, usually as a two hour trip. The whales, which run to 50′ in length and 80,000 lb in weight, are fascinating to obesrve. One exciting whale activity is a competition pod, where several males try to fight over a single female for the right to mate. This is illustrated in the images below.
Here are three tips:
- We can recommend the Pacific Whale Eco-Adventures, although one has many choices. The tours are managed by certified marine naturalists who provide lots of information about whale behavior and characteristics, and also provide underwater listening devices .
- Try to get on early and sit in elevated seats near the front.
- Don’t spend all your time taking pictures. Watching the mammals is great fun.
Drive beyond Wailea and Makena (two to four hours)
Another neat adventure is a drive along the southwestern shore below Wailea and Makena, all the way to La Perouse Bay. This is really the end of the road. One can then hike for 5.5 miles along the Hoapili Trail, constructed between 1824 and 1840. This trail runs through the youngest lava field on Maui and ends up at the Hanomanioa Lighthouse. One can see very nice wildflowers, and snorkeling is quite good at the end. The contrast between unvegetated lava and the vegetated upper levels on Haleakala are quite stark.
Here are three tips:
- If you do the walk, wear good hiking shoes and take water
- Stop at car park at La Perouse Bay and watch the swells, snorkelers, birds and other action.
- Take a look at the beach at Makena State Park on the way in or out.
Five Quick Suggestions
- Eat at Mama’s Fish House outside Paia. Expensive but the best food on Maui and and a great experience.
- Go to the Five Palms in Kihei for Happy Hour. Great appetizers and a great view.
- Visit Ho’okipa Beach near Mama’s, considered the best surfing on Maui. See surfers, wind surfers and lots of sea turtles.
- Visit the Iao Valley just outside Wailuku. This is a stream cut valley with great displays of tropical flora and rushing waters.
- The beaches at Kameole in Kihei are beautiful, sandy and relatively calm for swimming, sunning, walking and snorkeling.
If you have any questions, please ask and we will try to help. Aloha!!