{maui} day 2

We woke up early on our second day in Maui to very light rain sprinkles.  Getting rained on in paradise is way better than getting rained on in Portland, so we didn't really sweat it when the rain turned monsoon-like about an hour later.  We broke out the stove and cooked up a small breakfast of oatmeal while we waited out the storm.

After taking our last hot shower for the next 3 days, the rain stopped and we packed up and got back on the Road to Hana.  Our first stop was Aunty Sandy's in Ke'anae.  (I should mention that we were religiously following the advice in Maui Revealed, a must have if you're going to Maui and a total lifesaver for us.  The author is a BIG fan of the banana bread in Maui, and it wasn't hard to see why once we had our first taste of the stuff.)

One of the handful of things my dad is really spectacular at making in the kitchen is banana bread from scratch... I haven't had it in years but I remember it being insanely good.  He said the secret was using overly ripe bananas.  The warm banana bread we got at Aunty Sandy's was even better than my dad's.  Far and away the best banana bread I've ever had.  I really can't put into words how moist and delicious it was.

Aunty Sandy's is located where it is because there also happens to be a great little stretch of coastline there that tourists flock to for photo ops.  It was here that we got our first up-close glimpse of the lava rocks that make up the majority of Maui's beaches.

Back on the Hana Highway we stopped at a blink-and-you'll-miss-it gravel lot on the side of the road beneath the Wailua Valley State Wayside.  The steep flight of stairs to the Wayside were definitely worth the climb, as once we got up there we had sweeping views of the Pacific below us, the tiny village of Wailua and several small taro fields.  Behind us was a great view of Haleakala.

The next stop was the Upper Waikani Falls (also called the Three Bears Falls.)  They were pretty, but it was a really busy stop so we didn't stay long.

Pua'a Ka'a State Park a little further down the road was a surprisingly pretty stop and slightly less busy.  It was here that I finally figured out the settings for getting a nice waterfall pic, which got me super excited.

The book makes a big deal about a little community down the road a bit called Nahiku - going so far as to say "As you stand there in your own private paradise, you can't help but wonder if there's a more beautiful place in the world."  Well, Mr. Doughty, you need to book yourself a week at the Thala Beach Lodge in Port Douglas, Australia.  Or stand on the cliffs in Capri, Italy looking out onto the Mediterranean.  Nahiku was pretty, but not nearly as impressive as the book makes it out to be.  For one, the road to the actual beach is closed to non-residents (a result of being mentioned so enthusiastically in the book, no doubt.)  There were plenty of tourists who disregarded the signs, but we parked at the head of the road and walked through the town and down to the beach.  The swimming holes the author highlighted were all dried up, and the beach itself wasn't really anything special compared to elsewhere in Maui.  This was once of the few places where the book led us astray, and if you're taking the Road to Hana, I'd recommend not bothering with this stop.

Our next stop was Wai'anapanapa State Park where we had a picnic lunch on the beautiful black sand beach.  There was also a cool little cave / lava tube there that we explored.

After the black sand beach we went to a red sand beach at Ka'uiki Hill, which was also beautiful but we were hot and desperate for a beach where we could do some swimming so we picked up our first Shave Ice and got back on the road.  Not all Shave Ice is created equal, and this first sampling was basically just a slightly tastier snow cone.  Thankfully the cooldown we were looking for was only a few miles away at Koki Beach.  It was one of the prettiest beaches I've ever been to and we got in some much needed bodysurfing in the warm clear water.

Back on the Hana Highway we skipped a few waterfalls and the Venus Pool (we'd get to them the next day) to nab a good campsite at Haleakala National Park in Kipahulu.  The campground was busy since it was a Saturday, but we were right along the coastline and the views were unreal.

About 200 yards from our campground stood one of the best sites of our whole trip: 'Ohe'o Gulch (aka Seven Sacred Pools).  We got there just as the sun was starting to set, which made the water appear several shades of blue.

A dip in the pools would have to wait, since daylight was fading and we were starving.  On the menu for dinner: hot dogs and Kraft Mac 'n Cheese.  Low in nutrition, high in sodium, and completely delicious.

Up next for Day 3... our anniversary, sunrise at the Venus Pool, bodysurfing at Hamoa, 400 ft falls, and a massive double rainbow.  OMG!  :)

{maui} day 1

After a very bumpy flight into Maui, Jared and I stepped out of OGG into exactly the kind of weather we'd been hoping for - hot, tropical, and most importantly SUNNY! A brief cab ride to Kihei and we arrived at our first stop: Aloha Campers. Our friends Erin and John had gone to Maui earlier in the year and rented a VW Westfalia to take camping around the island for the first part of their trip. We loved the idea so much we decided to do the exact same thing! The plan was to camp for 5 days, and stay at a nice resort for the last 4. But we started to question that plan when we pulled up to pick up the Westie. The Aloha Campers sign is basically Sharpie on cardboard and it more closely resembled a junk yard than a car rental place. But this was supposed to be an adventure, right? And Erin and John are good, normal people who would have told us if this was a shady operation, right? Thankfully, the manager arrived shortly after us and put our minds at ease. He showed us around our late 80s/early 90s Westfalia - white, automatic, sink, stove, fold down bed, pop-up roof with a 2nd bed and vented windows. Neither of us had ever been in a Westfalia before, much less driven one, but nervous excitement carried us from Kihei back up to Kahului where we picked up food and supplies for the next 5 days. After that, we hit the Hana Highway!

(Somewhere between Kahului and Pa'ia I decided we should nickname our Westie "Betty White." She was old but still kicking, and had us laughing from the start. This nickname naturally led to many immature jokes throughout the rest of the trip... particularly when periods of rain made it rather hot and muggy inside the van. I'll leave the rest to your imagination.)

Our first stop was Pa'ia, a very cute little beach town that reminded me a bit of my days in Venice Beach. It has a lot of character - probably the most of any town we visited in Maui - and felt less touristy than we expected. We ate lunch at Charley's, which is owned by Willie Nelson and named after his late dog. We both had salads and got our first sampling of local beer from the Maui Brewing Company. I had the Bikini Blonde Lager and Jared had the Big Swell IPA. We both agreed mine was better.

We drove the Hana Highway to Ke'anea and came very close to dying several times. The Hana Highway is no joke - it's narrow, windy, hilly, and pretty much terrifying (especially in a clunky old van that we were still getting used to driving.) Betty White was a champ, though. I think she handled the drive better than we did.

We stopped at the YMCA camp in Ke'anea for the night. It had great views of the ocean, lush greenery, and hot showers. Another Westfalia was already there, so we chatted with them for a bit... Wendy and Joe from San Fran, celebrating their 5 yr anniversary, also rented from Aloha Campers. They were jealous of Betty's condition, as their's was stick-shift, had a bit of rust around the kitchen area, and didn't have the side vents in the pop-up top. When you're stuck in a van together for 5 days these things start to matter.

We had some drinks, played several rounds of Gin Rummy, and called it a night. (If I admitted that Jared whooped me at cards that first night I'd also have to admit that I returned the favor nearly every night from that point on and that would be insensitive, so why bring it up? I'm way more mature than that.) ;)

Stay tuned for Day 2, when we get our first taste of the best banana bread on the planet, go waterfall hunting, and finally get in some beach time...