{maui} day 9

It was our last day in Maui and we were determined to make it a great one.  We got up at the crack of dawn and made our way down to Makena Landing in South Maui for a sea kayaking/snorkeling trip with Maui Kayaks.  Jared and I shared a tandem kayak and were 2 of only 7 people in our group.  Our guide, Griff, was super nice and extremely knowledgeable.  His passion for the island and respect for the marine life were contagious.  We went to three different snorkeling sites and saw huge sea turtles at each site.  (We saw lots of fish, too, but the turtles really stole the show.)

(btw, all of these photos were taken with a Fujifilm Quick Snap waterproof disposable camera... we were pretty impressed with the quality compared to other underwater disposables we've tried)

If you're ever in Maui and want to take a snorkeling trip, I highly highly recommend Maui Kayaks.  When we went to Australia for our honeymoon we took two different charters out to the Great Barrier Reef, and while the charter boats are less work, kayaking gives you access to sites the big boats can't get to, and going out in such a small group made the experience even better.

After our snorkeling trip, we headed back to the hotel, took a nap, and went down to the pool for our last afternoon of sun, sand, and swimming.  I'm not going to lie, it was really really really hard to leave that pool.  Those last moments of warm sun were so bittersweet.  Oh, who am I kidding - they were just bitter.  We live in Portland.  The sun won't shine like that until next July.  That's TEN MONTHS AWAY!  What?  No, I'm not crying.  Must be - uh - sand in my eye.  Or something.

Anyway, we got all gussied up and set up out on the lenai to watch the luau until it was time to leave for dinner.  The hotel doesn't usually have luaus on Saturday nights, but we got lucky - a cruise ship had pulled in that day and booked a private luau.  Did I mention that the cruisers were nearly all retirees?  Have you ever seen retirees try to hula?  Well take my word for it - it was fantastic.  Truly truly fantastic.  The actual dancers were pretty great, too... particularly when they busted out the torches.  I don't know how they don't burn themselves to a crisp, but I guess that's why they're the pros and I'm the girl watching from her lenai 5 floors up.

The luau ended at 8, just in time for us to make it to Lahaina for dinner.  We decided to have a belated anniversary dinner on our last night in Maui (the chili dogs were great, but not exactly the romantic celebratory dinner we're accustomed to) and everyone said Lahaina Grill was the place to go for such a dinner.  Those people were not wrong.

Our dinner was aaaaaamazing... easily one of the best dinners we'd had in a long time.  We were the old farts of our section (everyone else was on their honeymoon) but the hostess took pity on us and gave us a card signed by the entire staff, and took a customary couples picture of us...

Here's what we had:

  • Bufala Salad (olawalu tomatoes, bufala mozzarella, truffle oil, aged balsamic vinaigrette, alziari extra virgin olive oil, and black kilauea sea salt)
  • Sauteed line caught local mahi-mahi (kula spinach, herbed mashed potatoes, gorgonzola pancetta bits, and chardonnay beurre blanc) -> this was the best mahi mahi we'd ever had and we d-e-v-o-u-r-e-d it.
  • Kurombuta Pork Shank (pork shank with black currant demi-glace, pearl onions, asparagus, creamed spinach mixed in with mashed potatoes)
  • Triple Berry Pie (raspberries, blueberries, and black currants with whipped cream and strawberry sauce) -> this pie was insane!  Absolute pie perfection.

We rolled ourselves back to the car after dinner and took a quick stroll on the beach at the hotel before spending the rest of the night out on the lenai, playing cards and getting tipsy.  Despite a relatively early flight the next day, we didn't go to bed until 2am or so to try to delay the inevitability of going home just a little longer.

And with that, our amazing vacation and this series of posts have come to an end... thanks for reliving the adventure with me!  :-)

{maui} day 4

The sunrise the morning of Day 4 was so beautiful it nearly made us forget the awful, stormy night we just had.

We even had another rainbow sighting over the Seven Sacred Pools.

Another breakfast of oatmeal and banana bread in our bellies and we headed out to drive the southern coast of Maui and make our way up to Haleakala.  Past Kipahulu, the landscape abruptly went from lush greenery to dry desert (complete with stray cattle and mountain goats), and the road became even windier and narrower than usual.  Several stretches were unpaved, or used to be paved and are now simply a mosaic of pothole patches.

After an hour or so of driving we started making our way up Haleakala.  The road to the summit is essentially 20 miles of switchbacks, climbing up to the visitor center at 7,000 feet, and then higher to the summit at 10,000 feet.  Betty did surprisingly okay and the views made up for the nausea.  (There were points at which we could actually see turbulence in the clouds as we climbed above the cloud line.)

We finally got to the Leleiwi Lookout (around 9,000 feet and a few miles from the summit) and it became very clear why we'd endured all those switchbacks - Haleakala Crater was vast, impressive, and stunning.  The temperature drop was very noticeable at this altitude, so I was even colder than usual.

We made our way up to the summit, which I thought wasn't as impressive as the view from the Lookout.  Don't get me wrong, it was still beautiful, but the view from the Lookout felt more like we were in the crater.  Still, looking out into the crater it was hard to believe that it was all once an active, lava-filled volcano.

We also saw these cool plants called silverswords.  The summit of Haleakala is the only place they exist in the entire world, and - like salmon - they only spawn once in their lifetime before they die.

After a lazy lunch at Hosmer Grove (the campground about halfway up Haleakala), it was time to tackle the switchbacks again.  Going down the mountain was much much worse.  There wasn't a gear low enough that made it possible to not ride Betty's brakes the entire time.  The smell of raw brakes greeted us as we got back to civilization, but the old girl came through for us.

We made our way back to South Maui to tour the beach towns that stretch from Kihei to La Perouse Bay.  There were some very nice houses and hotels, but the towns themselves lacked a lot of the character we saw in Central and East Maui.  The lava fields we saw down at Cape Kina'u were probably the best thing we saw along this stretch.

After that it was more driving - this time back up the coast to Hwy 30 and West Maui.  It was here that we finally got closer to real shave ice at the Olowalu Market.  It was much bigger, the ice was more finely shaven, and the syrup was much more flavorful.  Jared had been driving for 10 hours at this point so he probably would have welcomed anything that was cold and sweet, but it was a nice little bonus for the shave ice to be so good.

We struggled to find a good spot to camp for the night, and after getting stuck in the sand at one beach, and weirded out by the chickens and stray cats at another, we decided it was best to fork over the $20 to park Betty at Camp Olowalu for the night.  I was finally able to get in a short military-style shower, which was cold but extremely enjoyable.  We cooked up another dinner of hot dogs and Kraft Mac 'n Cheese and settled in for the night.

On the menu for Day 5... we finally complete the trek around the entire coast of Maui and visit one of the best sites of the whole trip - the Nakalele Blowhole.