I have added a couple of photos to the Sep 3 entry that were forgotten on Friday. I’m hoping to have all of Maui finished today or tomorrow. Then I can post photos from this past weekend. Somewhere in there I should probably so some work… at work.
Thurs Sep 4
This was our view this morning:
I don’t think I could ever get tired of it.
Today we took the Road to Hana. It’s a long and winding road to the far eastern side of Maui along an infamous highway known for tight turns, one-lane bridges and very few guard rails. It’s also one of the most beautiful drives in Hawaii through lush rainforests, past beautiful waterfalls and breathtaking views of the coastline. This is truly an example of where the journey itself is the destination.
We set out around 8am and stopped in Kahului to pick up some carmencheese. (car munchies) It’s approximately 53 miles from Kahului to Hana with many stops along the way to see waterfalls, swim in freshwater pools, find trails to hike to hidden waterfalls, and buy fruit and homemade banana bread from roadside stands. Combined with over six hundred turns, forty-six one-lane bridges (most of which were erected in the 1910s) and sharing the road with other tourists making the drive, it’s an all-day trip. Thankfully, the guidebook we read listed where all the great places to stop were and which ones we could skip. Our first stop was at Twin Falls. We actually chose not to make the short hike to see the small waterfalls, instead we bought a small loaf of banana bread from the roadside stand. Since this is the very first waterfall on the road to Hana, lots of people stop here. We figured we could skip it. The banana bread was delicious though; very dense and gooey.
We stopped along a turnout and got a few shots from this beautiful vista of Honomanu Bay.
Our next stop was to a random, nondescript turnout. You couldn’t see any waterfalls from the road, there were no signs, but you could hear water falling from somewhere. Thanks to the book, we knew to look around near the bridge and found a steep, rocky trail leading down to the waterfall and pool. The unnamed area is called Ching’s Pond by the locals. The freshwater pond is wonderful for swimming. When we pulled over, we were the only car there. A few minutes later two more cars pulled in and followed our lead as we found the trail. Bill said he saw the same guidebook in their rental cars. You can see two short videos of guys jumping into Ching’s Pond on YouTube. One. Two. That narrow spot is the only part of the pond deep enough to handle the thirty or so feet from the cliff.
Heheh, I got the FedEx truck in the shot. The bridge gives you and ideas how high up the road is while a couple take a dip.
This place was really beautiful and very peaceful. A place I could definitely visit Ching’s Pond for a swim on the weekends… when I’m not selling overpriced art and fruit on the side of the road.
The steep trail back up to the road. Kind of makes you feel like a jungle explorer. (cue Indiana Jones music.)
Next we planned to stop and see the upper Waikani Falls, but the two small turnouts were all full when we drove past. If we weren’t in a bit of a rush, I would have liked to take a hike in this area to see the lower Waikani Falls. They’re not visible from the road and supposedly impressive, falling hundreds of feet. Perhaps on the next visit to Maui.
The next stop was for a restroom break at Pua’a Ka’a State Wayside Park. They have lots of picnic tables and small picnic shelters perfect for a stopping point on your day-long drive. A couple of short and easy hikes took us to a couple of small waterfalls. We spent a little time here trying out some longer exposures with the camera.
Thanks again to the guidebook (again), we found a trail that seemed to end at nothing but a small creek. But if you grabbed a hold of the railing and swung yourself around to the other side, you could walk across some rocks and stand at the top of a waterfall and look down on it. That was pretty cool and tested my fear of heights a bit. My guess was that it was about twenty or thirty feet down. Maybe Bill can chime in and submit his guess.
The top of a waterfall.
That pseudo-trail is around here somewhere.
Our next stop was to Wai’anapanapa Park. (why-a-na-pah na-pah) On the small road we drove past a couple of fruit stands running on the honor system. We stopped at one that was selling bananas, avocados and star fruit. Bill bought a couple of star fruit. Funny enough, the fruit stand was situated right between the avocado tree and the star fruit tree. We could have picked our own.
The star fruit was pretty, but didn’t taste very good. It was a little bland in flavor and had an unpleasant starchy texture. I don’t know what a star fruit is supposed to taste like, but Bill said this wasn’t it. Maybe ours wasn’t ripe enough?
The avocados were pretty big! This one was really ripe and squishy, so I have provided my foot as a size comparison.
There were also some beautiful flowering trees. These are all over the place in Maui and I have no idea what they’re called. I’d love one in my backyard.
These white ones were all over the grounds of our hotel.
After a few minutes we made it to Wai’anapanapa Park. This park has cabins for rent, places for camping, and restrooms. It’s also home to a black sand beach and a couple of caves with freshwater pools for swimming. Despite what you may have been told, the Big Island isn’t the only island in Hawaii with black sand beaches. Maui has a few of them. They’re caused when lava flows into the ocean and shatters on contact with the cool water. Then the lava rocks are smashed against each other on the shoreline creating sand.
This one, Pa’iloa Beach, is small and has pretty rough surf. Based on the signs posted at the top of the trail, it’s not an ideal beach for swimming… apparently there are strong currents, waves breaking on the rocks, man-o-wars, and jellyfish.
Great. The little cartoons cracked me up. I always thought man-o-wars were jellyfish. Apparently they’re different enough to get their own warning sign.
We walked around taking lots of photos. The stark contrast in colors were amazing to me. The black rocks, the turquoise water and the green foliage were really beautiful. When we first arrived, the sky was a little overcast. The colors looked amazing once the sun came out.
Hee hee hee, a study in contrast. It looks like I have poppyseeds on my toes.
We hiked around the jagged lava rocks on the cliffs near the black sand beach taking a lot of photos of the crashing waves and the sea arch. Again I was impressed with my agility on the rocks wearing flip flops.
I really enjoyed watching the waves crash into the rocks, they were quite violent and had an aura of anger; very different from the calm beaches in West Maui. Here’s a short video clip that illustrates the way the water churned.
Of course the colors became more vibrant when the sun came out.
There was a blowhole in the rocks that was really fun to watch. It made some amazing noises as the water churned underneath. It sounded like the rocks were breathing and moaning. Bill got a short video of the blowhole. It’s very anticlimactic and the wind kind of disguises the sounds coming from the blow hole. Here’s a short video:
Here’s a short clip from another small blowhole that Bill found. There wasn’t any water coming out of it, but this one better illustrates the cool sounds that the ocean was making inside.
An interesting kind of vandalism, carving graffiti into agave leaves. Does this become “green” graffiti?
This place was really great, but, as this was becoming a theme, we still had a lot more to go.
Next we reached the small town of Hana. It wasn’t much, just a small town with a calm bay that has a somewhat blackish sand beach.
We stopped on the bay to have chicken teriyaki plate lunches at Tutu’s Snack Shop. We both got quite a few bug bites waiting for our food. While Hana is a wonderful trip, it’s definitely lacking on restaurant choices. Tutu’s is kind of it for a relatively quick lunch. Our plate lunches were $9 each and were tasty. But I think we got lucky. I haven’t heard good things about their other entrees. It’s probably best to pack a lunch.
After lunch we continued on the road beyond Hana. We drove past the large and gorgeous waterfall, Wailua Falls, and wanted to stop, but there were too many cars filling the small turnouts.
Our last planned stop of the day before heading back across the island was to the ‘Ohe’o Gulch. It’s a tiered set of waterfalls and pools leading down to the ocean and housed within the Haleakala National Park. (Haleakala is Maui’s resident volcano) The ‘Ohe’o Gulch is also known as the Seven Sacred Pools, which is a lame name created by the owner of the Hotel Hana in a desperate effort to attract more tourists to Hana. I’ve read that if you call them the Seven Sacred Pools, you’ll get some dirty looks. The place really is beautiful and, if Bill and I had the time for swimming, it would have been tons of fun. It’s really just falls, pool, falls, pool, falls, pool. You can jump off the rocks into the pool below (contrary to the signs saying no jumping… they really mean, don’t sue us if you get hurt.) Although, they are serious about sudden flash floods caused by a torrent of rain high up in the mountains. That could suck. My favorite line in many of the warning signs we’ve seen, and even repeated in my guidebook, makes perfect sense and should really be the rule of every traveler: Your safety is your responsibility.
This was the view when facing the ocean. Then when I turned around:
This was the view of the pools.
Pretty cool, eh? I can see why this place is so popular among tourists. It’s relatively easy to get to.
Looks like fun… as long as you know how deep the water is.
If we had been able to arrive at the ‘O’heo Gulch much earlier in the day, I would have liked to take a four mile hike on the Pipiwai Trail up above the ‘O’heo Gulch. On it you hike through a bamboo forest, swim in a place called Infinity Pool, and see 400-foot Waimoku Falls. Alas, I’ll keep it in mind for a future visit to Maui.
A huge banyan tree on our way back to the car from the ‘O’heo Gulch. Banyan trees were imported to Maui from China and are kind of creepy looking to me.
Even though a swim would have been a lot of fun, we needed to hit the road. We didn’t want to still be navigating the narrow winding road after dark. On the way back we did stop back at Wailua Falls. It was giant and compared to the smaller falls we saw earlier in the day, and could easily be seen from the road. Thankfully there was plenty of parking at this point and we found a very short hike to a great vantage point.
I could have easily stayed there for a while.
We tried to get some long exposure photos here as well and it was a great place to have as our last stop of the day.
Sunset along the highway back to Kahului.
We got back to Kahului in just over two hours, starting from when we left the ‘Ohe’o Gulch. It only took us six hours to get there. It could have been longer if we had gone on a weekend during the busy season. While to road to Hana was breathtaking, it’s just far enough away to make enjoying every stop quite difficult. Bill made an excellent comparison to the drive from Miami to Key West. It’s a beautiful trip and Key West is a great place, but it’s just too far away to make a day trip enjoyable. We felt rushed at every place we stopped and we couldn’t fully enjoy each and every waterfall, swimming pond or scenic vista. I would have liked to swim in many of the beautiful pools we visited, but we didn’t want to have to navigate that narrow and windy road in the dark. I think it would have been ideal to spend the night in Hana and see some of the sights first thing in the morning. Plus, there would have been little to no other tourists there with us. So, if anyone is planning to visit Maui and make the drive to Hana, I’d recommend staying one night in Hana to fully enjoy the area, as there’s so much to see.
When we got back, we had a late dinner at a kitchy Latin American restaurant called Mañana Garage. It was kind of weird. Bill had a fish chimichanga that he said was okay but an odd combination of flavors. I had a macadamia nut-crusted Ono served over Spanish rice and topped with a pickled jicama and carrot salad and then the sides of the plate were pools of a slightly sweet beurre blanc. My dish was really delicious and a really interesting mix of flavors. The only problem was that my fish was way overcooked. I had to use a knife to cut it a few times. The margaritas were delicious and discounted on Thursday night, so that kind of made up for the food… but not enough to visit this restaurant again. Oh well. We were tired from the long drive and needed some food… and didn’t want to stop at Burger King.