After yesterday’s long day of activity on the volcano, we took it easy today.  We found a beach recommended in the guidebook for some morning lounge time.  We read and relaxed until it was lunchtime.  It was a perfect Hawaii morning.

maui484After lunch, we moved on to Ahihi Kinau Natural Area Reserve to the south.  It’s mostly around old lava flows.  We do some walking on the easy trail and then take a short stop at the beach where I take a short snooze.  We then walk back to the start where there is some calm water for L’ to snorkel.  She returns quickly because the water was cloudy.

On the way back we make dinner reservations at the place we ate nearly a week ago on our first night on Maui.  Cafe O’lei had very good food, reasonable prices, and a great Mai Tai and we looked forward to dining there again.  We have an early dinner and then walk back to the hotel to pack up.  Tomorrow our vacation ends and we return to the mainland after a great trip.

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The tallest peak on the island of Maui is the peak of the volcano, Haleakala.  The guide books recommend getting to the summit to watch the sunrise.  Even in Hawaii, the sunrise occurs early in the morning (can’t they reschedule it?).  We couldn’t muster a 4am wakeup, but got up at the still early time of 6am.  It took a little more than an maui409hour and a half to get to the summit.  We brought plenty of extra layers so we stayed warm at the summit where it is windy and around 40 degrees.  We take in the view from the top, including Science City which houses the scientists that are studying the sun and stars from this vantage point.

We then return to the visitor center that is just below the summit (just below 10,000 feet of elevation).  From here we pick up the Sliding Sands trail which will take us down about 1500ft over 2.5 miles to the base of a cinder cone.  Technically the "crater" we are hiking in is a valley because it was formed by erosion, not the volcano itself.

The hike begins downhill which make the first half easy, despite the elevation.  We get to the cinder cone which is neat to see.  After taking in the view, we start our trek up.  It’s strenuous because of the altitude, but we eventually make it back.  Fortunately it remains cool at this altitude so it’s not too unpleasant.

maui472Once we are back in the car, we stop at a couple overlooks on our way down and walk a short nature trail (which is neat because we see some bright red birds).  We finally depart the park and return to the hotel.  We’ll sleep well tonight after all this exercise.

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Today we took it a bit easier. After sleeping in a bit, we departed for Lahaina, on west Maui.  It was a little more than a thirty minute drive.  The town was big during the whaling days.  There are still some historic sites to see.  We check out the old prison and courthouse and the highlight of the town, Banyan Tree Square.maui313 This contains a huge tree with multiple trunks and roots.   It’s over one hundred years old.  We also visit the Wu Hing house in the old Chinatown.  The house is neat and has items from the Chinese population that lived in Lahaina back in the whaling days.  The best part are the movies out back.  They have some movies made by Thomas Edison of Hawaii.  These films are over a hundred years old.

After a yummy lunch and gelato stop, we continue up the coast to a beach for L’ to snorkel.   I hang on the beach while she swims with the fishes.  We then return back to the hotel and get dinner.  Tomorrow we are off to the top of the volcano.

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There was a choice in how to return to Kihei.  We could drive back the way we came, retracing our steps, or continue along the backside of the island and make a complete loop.  The waitress at dinner the night before recommended the full loop.  We proceeded to go this way, despite the warnings about narrow roads, dirt roads and one lane bridges.  It turned out that all these warnings were greatly overblown.  Even the supposed unpaved part was minor and easy.  Our biggest issue was getting our car stuck in the mud before we even began our drive on the backside.

maui294I was driving and L’ wanted to find a waterfall that we did not see the day before.  She saw a driveway that might be a parking area to get to the waterfall and I turned in.  Thanks to the heavy rainfall the night before, the ground was wet and muddy.  The turn in was a mistake.  It was not a pull off, but just a random driveway and it was all muddy. We realized it didn’t seem right before we even got out of the car.  I put the car back in gear to drive us on our way, only the car didn’t move.  We were stick in the mud.

The two characters who were asking why we pulled in to their driveway were eventually helpful.  They helped pull our car back to the road and out of the mud (while I had my stress attack along with visions of our rental car flying down the cliff).  In the end the locals got us out and we gave them some money for their trouble. (Note that if you work for our rental car company and are reading this, none of the above actually happened).

maui278Back on our way, we stopped at a few pretty places on the road and had a glimpse of the waterfall we were trying to find in the morning (which was very neat – the waterfall went into the ocean).

The road was nowhere as bad as the hype, and it was quite easy.  We stopped at a Lavender farm Lonely Planet recommended and that was just okay.  We finally made it back to our hotel and it was good to be back in civilization again.  We had definitely earned our umbrella drinks today.

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By staying in Hana for a couple nights, we had plenty of time to explore beyond the town.  We had a full day today going to O’heo Gulch, stopping at several waterfalls along the road, visiting the grave of Charles Lindbergh, and hiking to a red sand beach.  It was indeed action packed.

maui131We departed on our adventure to stop at a roadside waterfall. It is called Wailua Falls and was right by the road.  The sun was out and there was a rainbow through the waterfall which was very neat.  After taking the required photos, we departed for O’heo Gulch. 

O’heo is located in a national park so we pulled out our annual parks pass and ID only to determine that L’ had pulled a Zenia- she forgot her purse in the hotel room.  After driving back to get it, we were on our way again.

O’heo Gulch has been known as the "seven sacred pools".  This is wrong on two out of three accounts.  There are more than seven pools and they were never sacred to the native Hawaiians.  They are in fact pools and still very neat.  There are cascading water flows and pools where some of the earth eroded away.  The water is chilly, but refreshing in the hot weather.  We explore the lower pools and since we are here in the morning, it is not crowded. 

After a break for lunch, we start off on about a two mile hike (each way) to get to a couple of bigger waterfalls.  Except for some rain when we finally reach the furthest waterfall, it remains sunny and warm.  The waterfall is well worth the hike in.  We make it out in less time than going in and take in some views along the trail.

We now hunt down the grave of Charles Lindbergh who, battling cancer, lived out his final days on Maui.  The grave is out behind a small church.

maui235Heading back towards the hotel, we search for the Red Sand Beach.  Our gps comes through and it’s just down the street from the hotel.  The short hike down is a little steep, but nothing too bad.  The beach is very pretty, even in the rain (and much better than the green sand beach we saw on our last trip to Hawaii).

By now we are sufficiently stinky and hungry that we return to the hotel to clean up and find food.  Tomorrow we return to Kihei.

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For our first full day in Maui, we tackled the Road to Hana.  Hana is in Eastern Maui and the drive there is known for its scenery.  We had  a guide book, maps, and GPS, yet still managed to confuse ourselves.  It turns out that the road changes name and mile markers.  Unclear to us was that the guides we had (which indicate stops by mile marker), begin AFTER the road changes name and the mile markers reset.  Once we figured this out, then everything made sense and we were in sync with our navigational aids.


The road is very pretty and there are numerous vistas and stopping points along the way.  Thanks to our mix up in the morning we even caught some surfers enjoying the waves.  We took nearly all day to get to our hotel in Hana. By this time, we were ready for showers and some much needed food,

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Our day started with a wake up time almost the same as during the work week.  We got to the airport with plenty of time and the flight was uneventful.  The most painful part was getting our rental car.  It took longer to do this than to actually purchase L”s car.  In the end, we had our car and were ready for our week on Maui.

maui016From our pre-planning, we had identified ‘Iao Valley as a good stop on our way to the hotel.  It began to rain, but was manageable (unlike home, it’s warm, so getting wet is not nearly as unpleasant).  We explore all of the very short trails.  The main point of interest is the giant phallic rock.  It’s misting out, so we make a note to return if we have time and the weather improves.

With less hiking than anticipated, we have some spare time.  We take in the bonus stop of the sugar museum.  Sugar was the primary economic engine until tourism surpassed it after the advent of the jet airplane. The museum was small, but interesting.  The sugar crop workers had what we would consider a nightmare work schedule: five days off a month and a ten hour work day.  No wonder they were worried about a worker strike.  Not surprisingly, they had to bring in a foreign work force to fulfill the labor needs. Just goes to show that exploiting cheap foreign labor is hardly a new phenomenon.

Finishing the museum right as it was closing, we head to the hotel.  After cleaning up, we go for dinner which is quite good.  We then pick up food for breakfast and snacks and return to the hotel.  Tomorrow is a full day adventure as we take the road to Hana.

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