{maui} day 5

After a thankfully dry night's sleep, we headed out from Camp Olowalu to complete our final leg of driving. Later that day we'd be able to say we drove the entire island. Pretty cool. And tiring. Our first stop of the day was Makalua-Puna Point. The lava here was much lighter than we'd seen so far and the waves had eroded it into sharp points in places. The views from here were spectacular.

Next up was the Nakalele Blowhole. This was easily one of the best stops of the whole trip. After a bit of a trek down to the water, we reached the blowhole, found a nearby rock, and sat there mesmerized by what we were seeing. Over time, the ocean undercut the lava shelf that shapes the shoreline and when the waves crash against the shore, the water shoots up through a man-sized hole in the lava.

It's hard to really appreciate the natural wonder of the Nakalele Blowhole without seeing it in person, but here's some video in case a crazy Maui adventure isn't in your future:

We could have stayed at the Blowhole all afternoon, but we had to keep moving. Fortunately, our next stop was also pretty fantastic - the Olivine Pools. The hike down to the pools was a bit of a beast, but totally worth it. The rocks have little bits of olivine encrusted in them, making them glitter in the sun, and the pools were so wonderful to swim in.

After a long dip in the pools, we got back on the road, picked up some more banana bread at Julia's, and purchased a few souvenirs at the wonderful little Kaukini Gallery. Our very last stop before completing our journey around Maui was the Lower Makamaka'ole Falls. Though we couldn't get up close, they were still pretty beautiful from the highway. (The point at which I get sick of seeing waterfalls is the point at which I need to chuck my iPhone out the window and seriously reevaluate my life.)

We felt a huge sense of accomplishment as we drove back into Kahului. It tooks us 5 days and 314 miles to see and do everything we wanted to do during the "adventure" part of our Maui vacation, and in spite of the sunburns and dirty feet, it felt seriously awesome.

We'd already decided that we didn't want to camp another night... as much as we loved Betty White, we were in desperate need of a real bed and a hot shower. So we called Kat at the Sugar Inn in Pa'ia and booked a room. She was so nice and our room was exactly what we needed. We dropped our stuff, had a much needed scrub down in the shower, and hung out on the lenai until dinner.

For dinner that night we went to Milagros in Pa'ia, which was good but not great. Thankfully, the same can't be said for the post-dinner gelato we got at Ono Gelato.

Ono Gelato makes their gelato right there in the store and uses local, organic ingredients. These facts were a nice little bonus, but I don't care what they use as long as they keep making unbelievably delicious gelato. That cup of 1/2 pineapple 1/2 strawberry was as good, if not better, than the gelato I had in Italy. I definitely need to add gelato to my frozen treats repertoire.

After some more hang-time on the lenai, we crashed fairly early. To say we were exhausted would be a HUGE understatement.

Day 6... we bid a fond farewell to Betty and try our best to adjust to the harsh realities of resort-life.

{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...