November 08, 2008

Maui Trip

We had a great trip to Maui this week.

We had to get up really early to meet the Hawaii Superferry at the dock in Honolulu at 5 a.m. on Monday, November 3rd.  We had our car packed with all the supplies for our 5-day, 4-night stay, and drove it right onto the ferry.  The passenger deck was large, comfortable, and had a small play area for kids.  We had a great view of the sunrise as we pulled out of Oahu a little before 6:30.  The 3-hour trip was pleasant, and we were able to eat our breakfast food I brought, plus some extra we bought at their concession.  We had a nice view of Molokai and Maui as we sailed by.  We docked in Maui a little after 9:30.  Our first trip was to the 'Iao Needle in scenic 'Iao Valley.  We enjoyed the short hike to the view of the needle (a thin ridge sticking up in the middle of the valley), then drove into Kahului for some lunch.  We couldn't find the place we were looking for, Manana Garage, because, as we found out by asking a local, it had gone out of business 2 months prior!  So we instead went to Amigo's and had our fill of Mexican food.  Next we headed to the Aquarium, called the Maui Ocean Center.  It is one of the best aquariums I have ever been to, and we spent 2 hours enjoying all it had to offer.  Besides having a live coral reef, it has a tunnel you can be inside while viewing the fish and rays all around you.  We saw baby sea turtles, jelly fish and squid, and lots of other marine life as well.  By then we were all tired, and headed toward our condo to settle in.  We stayed in a 1 bedroom place in Kihei with a full kitchen, which allowed us to bring our cooler full of groceries for the week.  The girls shared the bedroom, and my husband and I took the sofa bed.  We had a view of the pool, and were a block's walk from the beach.  Everyone was tired, so besides a short walk around after dinner, we didn't do anything except go to sleep!

Tuesday morning we woke up and decided to venture out on the road to Hana and beyond, which would take us around the South side of Maui, circling the volcano, Haleakala.  So after breakfast we headed out early.  Derek got lots of practice driving curvy hilly roads and we stopped at several lookouts and interesting places.  We saw one particular waterfall that was truly spectacular.  We ate snacks along the way, and stopped for lunch at the Haleakala National Park's lower section where we also hiked to a waterfall and saw people swimming in the tide pools.  It was interesting to see the town of Hana.  On we traveled on the unpaved, one-lane roads at times, viewing a very different kind of climate on the drier side.  Ranches, steep cliffs below, steep slopes above, and dry land with little vegetation was the scene.  We made it all the way around and back home to cook dinner, and viewed the election results.  (Yes we voted, absentee in the month prior.)

Wednesday, our destination was the Haleakala crater and the Polipoli State Park where we hoped to see Redwood trees.  So the 10,000 feet we had to climb to the crater was a nice drive going back and forth up the mountain at a steep pace, most of it through a large cow pasture.  We also had to watch for Nene, the Hawaiian native geese that don't seem to move if they see a car.  The summit was spectacular!  We'd seen the volcano on the Big Island, but this one was unique.  The crater is 7 miles across and 2 1/2 miles wide, and the clouds blow in one side that is open.  We could see the Big Island from the top as it was an exceptionally clear day.  Really an awesome experience.  It wasn't too cold at about 60 degrees.  We enjoyed various lookout points for awhile there, and then headed back down for lunch.  The view of central Maui from the road on the mountain was luscious!  In the town of Pukalani, we ate at this awesome Italian place called Serpico's.  Yummy!  Then it was on to Polipoli State park.  We have a 4-wheel drive vehicle, and it was necessary for this venture.  After slowly meandering through more ranch land, zig-zagging up the mountain, and then onto the one-lane dirt road with random potholes for several miles, we finally spotted the park trail heads.  There was, fortunately, a nice restroom there, and we were happy to get out and stretch our legs.  We hiked about 45 minutes before deciding to turn back to avoid getting stuck on the unpaved road in the dark.  We never did make it to the stretch of trail that was where the biggest redwoods were supposed to be.  Oh well.  We'll hit California sometime in the future.

Thursday our goal was to circumvent the East side of the island.  First, though, we had to drive the rest of the way down South Kihei Road to La Perouse Bay.  It was neat to see the lava fields there, and some old Hawaiian walls built with lava rock.  We were too late to try to spot the dolphins that are reportedly sometimes there.  However, we had more island to explore, so we headed North toward Lahaina.  We enjoyed the scenery and seeing the areas many tourists enjoy.  Lanai was off in the distance.  In Ka'anapali, we enjoyed a restaurant called Honokowai Okazuya Deli.  The restaurant has the best local food for carry-out, and we enjoyed their chicken katsu, panko fried mahi-mahi, kung pao chicken, sticky rice, macaroni salad, and their unique cole slaw.  Yummy.  The fun stop we made later that afternoon was at Julia's (I think it was in Kahakuloa) where you can buy the world's best banana bread.  It was scrumptious!  So was the coconut candy, and the candied mango.  We didn't make it to any of the olivine pools or to the blowhole, because the natives were getting restless (the children in our back seat).  And we had promised them we'd spend some time at the beach across the street from our condo, which we did in the wind.  Then we fixed supper and prepared to check out the next morning.

Friday's checkout was followed by breakfast and Denny's, and then a drive to the Superferry dock, and our trip back to Oahu.  It was really neat to see another one of our state's islands.  A word to anyone who might come to vacation here - don't just limit your time to Oahu, because there is so much variety among the other islands that Oahu doesn't have if you're interested in different terrains and ecosystems.  Our trip last Fall to the Big Island was extremely interesting, and our trip to Maui was equally so.  Oahu has a lot to see and do, and plenty of beaches and recreation opportunities, but the other islands are less crowded, and more relaxing.  We hope the Superferry has service to Kauai by Spring so we can vacation there for a few days before we move out of state.

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