When this trip began eighteen months ago, I had no idea it would include two weeks in Maui with friends made at the start of the trip in Utila. But when one of those friends got a job here and suggested I come visit, I couldn’t pass it up. Especially when we started to discuss timing and realized that another of our friends would be coming through at the same time. I didn’t bother researching Maui before arriving, trusting my host would be full of suggestions on where to go and what to do. And he hasn’t let me down. There are more blog posts to come about my time here and none of them will be in chronological order but I thought I’d start with the road to Hana.
The Hana area is at the eastern tip of the island of Maui, reachable by one narrow winding road lined with waterfalls, beaches, lush rainforests, and generally gorgeous scenery. From Kahalui, where Maui’s primary airport is located, it’s only 52 miles to Hana but even without traffic or stopping, it can still take more than two hours to travel that distance. We left late at night after Jason finished work in Lahaina (further west than Kahalui) and made the drive all the way to Haleakala National Park in about three hours. We set up a tent and a hammock at the very crowded Kipahulu campgrounds within the park and all fell promptly asleep to the sound of wind and waves.
Camping in the national park makes it easy to start before hordes of tourists arrive and when we arrived at our first stop, the Seven Sacred Pools in Ohe’o, the ranger was there opening the gate. We had the area to ourselves for nearly an hour and only saw other people as we returned to the trail.
Jumping off waterfalls or cliffs into pools has never been on my list of fun things to do but peer pressure is a powerful thing and before I knew it, I was following Jason and Aly under the lower waterfall and jumping into the water below. Carpe diem, right?
Only on the way out of the pools did we spot this sign:
So, geniuses that we are, from there we drove to another popular place for jumping off a cliff into water, Venus Pool, also known as Waioka Pond. This is an area prone to flash floods, reached by a privately owned path. Because all beaches in Hawaii are public, the owners have no choice but to tolerate people traipsing across their land and a well-worn path is easy to follow if you know where to stop along the road to find it.
Along the same shoreline is a black sand beach, reachable by a steep path with the help of a well-tied rope.
Our day also included stops at Koki beach for lunch and a walk to a quiet red sand beach. The water was too rough to swim or snorkel at both places but I’m glad we saw both.
My favorite part of the day was our penultimate stop: Wai’anapanapa cave. Sadly, I don’t have many photos of this place. The entrance looks like a pool so we all jumped in, trusting Jason to guide us through. We swam through dark tunnels, our leader holding aloft the one light we’d brought with us, eased through narrow rock corridors and arches, and giddily worked our way up a steep stone embankment at the end. I’ve mentioned before how much I like caves and this one was a nice change as it involved more swimming than any other I’ve explored on this trip. Although we managed with one headlamp inside a plastic bag, a few dive lights would have been nice.
Our final stop came during the drive back to Lahaina to check out the rainbow eucalyptus trees. The bark on these trees is shed throughout the year, revealing green bark underneath that apparently can darken to shades of blue and purple. Straight out of a Dr. Seuss book.
There are countless other places to stop along the road to and from Hana but our day was full enough. If we’d had one more night, we would have included a hike to a bamboo forest and jumped off a few more cliffs, I suspect. If you’re planning the trip, I suggest camping for two nights in Haleakala National Park ($10 entrance fee), getting an early start each day, and taking your time exploring. I’d also recommend hooking up with a resident who knows the area and where to stop as there aren’t too many signs and the mile-markers start over in unexpected places.