I was in Maui on vacation from August 5-12 (I know, very late post, I’ve been lazy) and I have to say that this is one of the best places I’ve visited so far! Very relaxing, plenty to see and do, and perfect weather every day. If you like nature type activities you won’t be disappointed, but if you’re looking for more of a party atmosphere you may want to visit the other islands of Hawaii instead.
If you’re planning a trip here don’t worry too much about researching the different activities to do or places to visit, you’ll find plenty of information when you get here. I only had one thing planned ahead of time (snorkeling tour) and I only did that because you get a pretty good discount if you book at least 1 week advance.
I also pretty much wore my VFFs (KSO and KSO Trek) throughout the entire trip (wore them at the airport as well) and they were great, I actually met a few people who knew what they are! There was one time I wore my hiking boots but only because I had to.
This is pretty much how I spent my week-long vacation:
Arrived at the airport late in the afternoon. Tons of magazines here with information about the island, tips on what to visit, where to stay, where to eat, etc. Also tons of brochures from many different tour companies. I picked up a bunch of them, got my rental car, and drove to the condo.
First things I noticed when I got to the highway was the amazing view of the mountains. They actually look like a fake background.
I then drove around and checked out the area where I’m staying (in Kihei) and did some grocery shopping. Went back to my condo, unpacked, ate dinner, watched some TV, then went to bed. I have no idea at this point on what I wanted to do the next day. I was thinking of maybe checking out Haleakala.
I was originally thinking of seeing the sunrise at Haleakala on this day but I couldn’t wake up early enough (I will need to wake up at 2:00AM to have enough time to drive to the Haleakala summit if I wanted to see the sunrise). After eating breakfast, I checked one of the magazines I picked up from the airport and saw this guide to the Hana Highway. So at around 8AM I left my condo and hit the Road to Hana (wearing my KSO Treks).
Before you enter Hana Highway, make sure you’ll have enough gas for at least the next 50 miles as you won’t find any gas stations until you reach Hana. This is a narrow, winding road so you have to be very careful and drive slowly (I believe the speed limit is 30MPH). There are many bridges where only one car will fit so make sure to pay attention to the yield signs. The beautiful scenery also makes it very easy to get distracted!
For the most part, it was pretty much sunny and breezy so I had my windows rolled down. There were a couple spots where it was raining.
I was also listening to this radio station that plays mostly Hawaiian style reggae making the drive even more enjoyable. I tried searching for the radio station on Google when I got back from vacation and found this Island 98.5 station that plays the same songs, but I think I was tuned in to 107.5 when I was in Maui. I’m actually listening to it right now as I write this.
There are plenty of stops to make on the way to Hana so allocate an entire day for it. I actually wish I had left at 6:00AM instead of 8:00AM as I didn’t get to see everything I wanted. There are plenty of waterfalls to see, nice views of the ocean, forests, beaches, gardens, etc. My favorite one is the Pipiwai Trail (just past mile marker 42) across the Haleakala National Park (you’ll need to park your car here, it’s $10 per car to enter the park and it’s good for 3 days so keep your receipt, you can also use this at the Haleakala Summit area). This trail takes you to a bamboo forest (reminds of those Japanese samurai movies) and there’s a huge waterfall (Waimoku Falls) at the end of the trail. When I got to the waterfall I was pretty much the only person there as it was already past 6:00PM which was great. I stayed there for a bit just enjoying the scenery and then it started raining so I decided to head back (plus it was getting dark). I came prepared this time though and had a rain jacket with me so it was no big deal. I was also glad I had a flashlight with me as it got pretty dark on my way back. I got back to the parking lot I think around 7:30PM and there were only three other cars there and everyone was pretty much heading out.
On the way back to my condo, instead of going the back the same way I came from I decided to just keep going south instead but this turned out not to be a good idea. While the road going north is paved and well maintained, a good section of the road on the south side isn’t. It was probably at least a good 10 miles of rocky, dirt road. I was driving a small car so I couldn’t go over 10MPH without losing control of the car. A good portion of this road also don’t have railings so if it’s raining pretty hard and you’re not careful you could fall off the cliff into the ocean. It’s also pitch black and there are cattle crossing signs everywhere, and you’ll actually see cattle on the road so go very slowly when you see a cattle crossing sign and you’re about to make a turn. There was a spot where I saw a cow blocking half the road as I turned and I probably would have hit it if I didn’t slow down. I have a feeling that hitting a cow is a lot different than hitting a deer :D. Getting into an accident or having your car break down here definitely wouldn’t be fun as it would take a while to get help. Pretty scary drive but I made it back in one piece! I got back to my condo at around 10:30PM.
Woke up early, took a walk along the beach near my condo, hang out by the pool for a bit, then went to Maalaea Harbor around noon for a snorkeling tour.
I booked the tour with Pride of Maui the day before. Their morning snorkel tour was already full so I went with the afternoon one instead. It gets very windy in Maui in the afternoon so the best time to go snorkeling is early in the morning when the water is calm.
The boat can hold up to 150 passengers but there were only about 50 of us which is good. We went to an area called Turtle Town because it’s too windy to snorkel at Molokini, the more popular snorkeling area. There are these huge green sea turtles there and I’ve seen up to four of them together. You can get pretty close to them but you’re not allowed to touch/harass them though so stay a couple feet away. First time I’ve seen turtles this big! Food is also pretty good, they have burgers and hot dogs.
I also met this lady who recognized my VFF KSOs, she said her son has the same ones. She told me she couldn’t wait to tell her son that she saw another person wearing them when she gets home, lol.
Woke up really, really early, I think around 1:00AM – 1:30AM to check out the sunrise at the summit of Mt. Haleakala. I think I left my condo around 2ish because it takes 2.5 – 3 hours to drive to the summit (you have to go really slow here, it’s like driving to Hana). When I reached the park entrance there was no one at the booth yet but there’s a sign to use the self-pay machine. Since I already paid the fee 2 days earlier when I visited the park on the Hana side I didn’t have to pay (the receipt is good for 3 days). No one’s really checking so anyone can actually just pass through.
I reached the summit around 4ish and there were already a few cars there. It was also freezing! It was probably around 30 degrees (F) at that time. I was wearing my VFF KSO Treks (not warm enough at this temperature btw), a T-Shirt, a rain jacket, and convertible pants. You’ll see a lot of people who brought blankets, which I probably should’ve done.
The sunrise happened I think just before 6:00AM and it was amazing! I didn’t know what to expect and where I’m supposed to be looking so I just kept taking pictures then all of a sudden you’ll see the sun starts to come out and everyone went “Ahhhhh.” It only lasted for a few minutes but it was worth the wait/long drive/freezing my butt off! I’ve never seen anything like it before.
The view at the summit is also pretty neat. It’s actually above the clouds so it’s kind of cool to look down and see clouds. You get to pass through them when you drive down.
It did get warmer after the sunrise and I decided to do some hiking. I went to the visitor center to check out what they have there and asked the ranger for directions. Right by the parking lot you’ll see a sign to the “Sliding Sands” trail.
Hiking down the trail is pretty easy and actually fun. I was taking pictures along the way. It also gets warmer as you go down so I converted my pants to shorts and took off my jacket. I followed the trail about 5 miles down and I got pretty close to the center of the crater. I stopped at this flat area to take a break and decided to head back from there as my ankles are getting pretty sore. While hiking down is easy, hiking back up on sand is another story. It’s like taking a step forward and you move back a half step. Also, since the area is so open, you can see pretty far ahead and seeing how much further you have to go doesn’t help! I did manage to get on a nice, slow, steady pace eventually and it felt really good when I got back to the parking lot. I think I went to bed early this day.
Woke up early again to go kayaking at Makena Landing. For some reason it was so easy for me to wake up early in Maui, probably because I was actually looking forward to my day and the weather is always perfect!
I booked the tour with Kelii’s Kayak and there were about 9 of us in the group. We kayaked to a couple areas to snorkel, forgot the what they’re called. The guide also gave us some tips on how to properly get off the kayak while in the water and get back on. He also provided a couple of waterproof bags where we can store our valuables but since there’s 9 of us we had to share. I was sharing the bag with this couple and their kayak flipped over twice. I didn’t think much about it because the bag was supposed to be waterproof but it turned out water still got in! Maybe it just wasn’t sealed properly.
I had my camera, wallet, car keys, and BlackBerry in there and I was actually hoping that if anything goes bad it would be the , but it turned out it was my camera that broke :(. So from this point on, I had to use my BlackBerry to take pictures which are not very good. Oh well, stuff happens. Next camera I’ll buy will be a rugged, waterproof one.
After the kayak tour I just went to Big Beach and relax which is near the area. Life is good!
More water activities!
Started my day early once again to go snorkeling/sailing with Trilogy. This is actually a sailing boat so they can’t put too much people on it which is nice. I actually booked this tour a week in advance to make sure I’ll have a spot (plus you get a discount if you book early).
They have these homemade cinnamon rolls for breakfast and I have to say they’re definitely one of the best cinnamon rolls I’ve ever eaten! We snorkeled at two sites, one is Molokini and I forgot the other one. Saw more green sea turtles and many different types of fish (I don’t know any of them but they’re fun to watch :)).
After snorkeling, we continued sailing to this really windy area which felt really nice. It gets very windy that you’ll see these big waves coming and you’ll get wet if you’re on the deck. You’ll also get to see the different beaches in Maui. I was hoping we’d see whales but we didn’t see any, I guess it’s not whale watching season yet.
If you’re planning on doing a snorkeling/sailing tour, I definitely recommend Trilogy.
My last full day in Maui. Went ziplining with Skyline Eco Adventures in Ka’anapali. This is my first time ziplining so I was very excited! I did the 8 zipline tour (starts at 7AM in the morning which I think is the earliest) and it was a lot of fun!
Before they take you to the zipline area you’ll need to register first at their store/office and sign your life away. They’ll also weigh you here to make sure you’re under the 260lb limit. From there, a van will take you to the mountains where they’ll set you up with gear, listen to instructions, and start the fun!
The first zipline crossing is pretty short, it gets longer as you move to the next one. You’ll get to try out different ways to take off from the suspension bridges, such as running down from the bridge or jumping off backwards. The tricky part is the landing, you’re supposed to run as you land (or you can just land with both feet and slide). I was actually wearing my VFF KSO Treks at first but the guy at the office noticed it when he was weighing me and he told me that wasn’t going to work because the landing can be pretty rough. Good thing I brought my hiking boots with me and left them in the trunk of my rental car (I put them there as backup shoes when I did Road to Hana). Our tour guides were also great and very funny!
We were done by around 11AM or so, so I decided to spend the rest of the day at Ka’anapali Beach right after since it’s right around the area. It’s a really nice beach: clear water, there’s a restaurant/shopping center right by it, and lots of people. Great place to spend my last day in Hawaii :).
Well, not much to say here. Check out, drop off rental car, and wait at the airport. Vacation is over…I will miss this place!