{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 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.

{maui} day 3

Day 3 in Maui was our 1 year anniversary!  We woke up very early to drive to the Venus Pool because the views are supposed to be spectacular at sunrise.  We missed it by about 30 minutes because the drive back there took a bit longer than we anticipated, but it was still beautiful.

We popped a squat on a hill overlooking where the pools met the ocean and had a little breakfast of banana bread.  We had the whole site to ourselves, which is extremely rare for any sightseeing spot along the Hana Highway.  We didn't even mind when a light rain started to fall.  Which led to finding this when we got back to the car...

It was tough to leave this beautiful site, but we were in need of more supplies so we headed back to Hana to stock up.  On our way back to Kipahulu we wound up at Hamoa Beach for an early morning swim and to watch the surfers.  We were there at the perfect time... it was just us, the surfers, and a few locals doing some sort of traditional Hawaiian blessing on the hills above us.  It made for the best beach experience of the trip thus far, despite nearly drowning twice when I got pummeled by huge waves.  Seriously.  Absolutely blasted.  It wasn't pretty.

Back at Kipahulu, we managed to nab our same campsite and fixed up a snack.  The rain had come back a bit, but it had been falling on and off all day so we decided to continue with our plan to hike the Pipiwai Trail.  The first falls along the trail, the Makahiku Falls, sadly weren't falling.  Based on what the book said, we had high hopes for taking a swim in the Infinity Pool but it also wasn't flowing and was covered in mosquitoes.   It still made for some pretty pictures, though...

There were more pretty pools and vegetation along the trail, leading up to an amazing bamboo forest that was like another world.  When the breeze would blow the bamboo would knock against each other like a wind chime.

Now comes the part of this hike that I debated about including in this post... It was around the bamboo forest that we got stuck behind two female hikers.  Two insanely slow, oblivious hikers that walked even slower when they talked to each other about stupid unimportant things like cats and how one of them doesn't like stairs.  I wish I was kidding.  The hike at this point was just a narrow boardwalk, making it impossible to walk around them.  Now, I've been on dozens of hikes in my life and I assumed it was common knowledge that the proper hiking etiquette is to step aside and let faster hikers pass you.  And when I say common knowledge what I really mean is common sense.  I've really never experienced anything quite like it.  Which is why I felt the need to write about it... so that no one I know and love will ever have to experience the misery that was the last mile and a half of that hike.  So here's my little PSA: if you're on a hike and two very nice, non-aggressive people are clearly walking faster than you, please step aside and let them pass.  Sorry to get all preachy.  I'll move on now.  Oh - one more thing!  Feel free to apply this same common sense rule to driving in the left lane.  If you're not actively passing someone, please move over.  No matter how fast you think you're going, there's always someone who wants to go faster.  Thanks.  Okay, now I'm really moving on.

Thankfully the payoff at the end of the hike made that last mile and a half totally worth it - the Waimoku Falls...

It's hard to get a sense for the scale in this picture, but the falls are 400 feet tall and you can sort of see the size compared to the person in the blue in the bottom right corner.

Jared took a quick dip in the pool under the falls, then we headed back down the trail toward the campsite.  We dropped our stuff and went for a swim at the Seven Sacred Pools.  It was so nice and refreshing and a much needed opportunity to get off the last of the sand from Hamoa.  The sun showers were still falling on and off, so we ended up spending much of the rest of the afternoon stuck inside the camper.  We made a nice lunch and Jared settled in for a nap while I engrossed myself in Little Bee (I highly recommend reading it if you haven't already.)  Not long after after lunch, the biggest, brightest, and most complete rainbow I've ever seen started to appear over the ocean.

It continued to get stronger, and then...

DOUBLE RAINBOW!  OMG!!  :-)  It was very exciting.  We pretty much spent the next 2 hours transfixed by this rainbow.

Here's what happened in between this last photo and the next...

The monsoon finally stopped and the double rainbow reappeared.  By now it had gotten so big I had to walk clear across the campground to be able to fit half of it in the frame.  (That's Betty in the bottom right...)

It was awesome in every sense of the word.  Sadly, more rains arrived (probably still Jared's fault) and didn't seem to be letting up this time.  We made hot dogs and chili for our anniversary dinner, then got boozy and played cards while we waited for the rain to stop.  It didn't.  The rain and wind gusts lasted all night long.  Nothing says Happy Anniversary like having a terrible night's sleep in the top bunk of a VW camper because you left the back open during a rain storm and the regular bed got soaked.  Good times.  :)

Day 4 couldn't come soon enough after such a crappy night... up next - we see more rainbows, summit Haleakala, and head west toward better weather.

{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!  :)