After wrapping up on the Big Island, we flew to Maui to explore there for a few days. I’d been before, back in Fall 2009, and absolutely loved it, so I was more than happy to go back so Ben could fall in love with it too. Here are the highlights (day count is continuing on from previous posts):
Day 9 (again): Maui, I’m baaaaaack!
As mentioned in my previous post, we flew to Maui from the Big Island in the afternoon, so most of this day was gone by the time we landed at Kahului Airport, got our rental car, and arrived at our Airbnb in Kihei. This time we were in a private studio, which was a nice break from having to share a bathroom & kitchen at our previous place. We went grocery shopping right away to get it over with, and the prices were just as offensive as they were on the Big Island–cheaper than eating out for every meal, but I still am not over the sticker shock! One item we purchased that I hope to buy in bulk (if I can find it, fingers crossed!) once I’m no longer a hobo? Koloa’s Hawaiian Pineapple Passion Rum Cocktail. It’s a pre-mixed tropical cocktail that we mixed with seltzer to give it a little fizz and O.M.G. YUM.
We grabbed a quick dinner at Coconut’s Fish Cafe, and of course I committed the ultimate sin of eating non-seafood at a seafood place (you’ll be seeing a lot more of this from me, so save your judgments for later 😏). My food was fine (I wasn’t expecting stellar pasta from a seafood restaurant), but Ben certainly raved about his poke bowl. My favorite part? Their volcano fries. It appears to have been a special (since it’s not on the regular menu), so our timing was excellent! The fries themselves were delicious (just the right amount of crispy), but it’s the topping that makes them special–some sort of sriracha-based sauce with spices and finely-chopped, baked seaweed. See? I’ve found a way to eat things from the sea–when covered in calorie-laden, spicy sauces! 😂
Day 10: Beach parking shouldn’t be such a struggle
In honor of our first proper day in Maui, I wanted to return to one of my favorite places from my last visit: Ka’anapali Beach. We looked around our studio to figure out what beach supplies they had to offer (to our previous Airbnb host’s credit, she was well-equipped for visitors, offering towels, beach chairs, beach umbrellas, a cooler, snorkeling gear, etc). We were ecstatic to find that they had the same beach chair and umbrella set that our previous host had–I loved them so much that they’re also on my “Buy when I’m not a hobo anymore” list. These Tommy Bahama beach chairs are the greatest thing since sliced bread, and 1) you can get them solo or as a duo and 2) they’re available in so many colors/patterns! I’m in love. The paired Tommy Bahama beach umbrella was also a must with the scorching sun, and it held up really well in the wind. I honestly can’t rave about these enough–they’re not cheap, but I 100% believe they’re worth it. Can’t wait to buy some for myself!
Now, back to the task at hand — It was a scenic, 40 minute drive from our place in Kihei to Ka’anapali Beach, and all was well until we arrived and needed to find parking. I didn’t remember this from my previous visit because we had actually stayed at a hotel on this beach, but this beach is so popular that parking is a nightmare basically any time after 9am. Anyone who knows Ben will know that finding parking is literally his least favorite thing…he has no patience whatsoever for it and is not willing to circle around for a while to find a spot (NYC street parking was his nemesis). So, needless to say, we cheated the system and parked at the nearby mall’s lot, with the knowledge that 1) we would need to be back within 3 hours and 2) we would need to buy something at a store to get our parking validated. Turns out 3 hours was plenty of time in that killer sun after my deadly Green Sand Beach sunburn (of which I was starting to see the tragic peeling after effects), but for those looking for a full day at the beach, get there early and be patient for a spot (you WILL find one eventually). The actual beach is lovely–it can be busy but it’s large enough that you don’t feel crowded, and you can see a couple of the other Hawaii islands off the coast (Lanai and Moloka’i), making you feel like you’re on an episode of Lost (minus the polar bears). [Note: If you haven’t seen Lost, sorry for the spoiler, but go watch it. Now. Binging is the best way to do it. You’re welcome.]
Day 11: The Road to Hana
There are 7 million blog posts on the interwebs about this classic Maui adventure, so I will only touch on the essentials and post some photos below:
- We recommend doing the full loop, and it CAN be done in one day–one very long day without making every single stop. If you want to make every stop, you should definitely spread it out over two days and stay in Hana one night–can’t say more about this because we didn’t do it, but there are plenty of other posts about it.
- Get on the road early (ideally 8am) to make sure you’re not in the longest line of cars ever, especially if you’re trying to make the drive in one day and don’t want cars blocking your view the entire time.
- Use a GPS-based app guide for the trip–it’ll tell you some history along the way and help you find some hidden spots rather than trying to read directions furiously from a book while in the car. We used the Shaka Guide app.
- Bring cash, as many of the little stands along the way are cash-only and you don’t want to miss out.
- Wear your bathing suit and bring lots of towels.
- Be ready to occasionally need to hike a bit to get to some viewpoints, waterfalls, etc. I saw lots of people doing this in flip flops, but I can’t say that I would recommend it–but maybe I’m just not very agile. 🤷🏽♀️
- Whenever you park on the side of the road, make sure you park facing the right direction. The Hana cops are so bored that you’ll actually get a ticket ($35!) for this. We saw a car with one!
- There are a million things to see. Here are the stops we made: Ke’anae Peninsula (viewpoint), Chings Pond, Halfway to Hana shop, Wailua Valley State Park (viewpoint), Upper Waikani Falls, Wailua Falls, Pua’a Ka’a State Park, Hanawi Falls Makapipi Falls, Hana Beach Park, Red Sand Beach, Venus Pools, (skipped the infamous Seven Sacred Pools for time’s sake), London taxi (quick photo op), and Pokowai Arch (quick photo op). (There were a couple more stops but apparently these are the ones I remember.)
- Halfway to Hana shop – stop here for the fresh banana bread! You won’t regret it. Don’t forget your cash!
- Pua’a Ka’a State Park – if you’re a cat person (i.e. a person with a SOUL), bring some cat-friendly human food or cat food with you if you’re going to stop here–there’s a family of cats there and they walk up to every picnic table begging for food. I died. Plus I gave them like half my turkey sandwich. One of the cats was so excited that he kept pawing at my hand asking for more and accidentally scratched me–I forgave him but learned my lesson and didn’t go near those little unclipped claws again 😼
- Hanawai Falls – we didn’t stop for a swim here but wished we had. The climb down looked easy enough and the water looked really inviting.
- Hana Beach Park has black sand if that’s of interest to anyone considering a stop.
- Red Sand Beach is a MUST stop. The walk there is a little uneven/slippery (I ate it getting there, almost twice), but it’s 100% worth it. This is one where I wished I had my suit on and could have gone for a swim. (P.S. This is one of the spots notorious for wrong-direction parking tickets–you’ve been warned.)
- Venus Pools is also a MUST stop. It was the one thing I was really looking forward to and knew I’d want to swim at ahead of time, so we changed into our suits in the car on the side of the road, like the classy adults we are 💁🏽💁🏻♂️. Getting into the water isn’t necessarily a piece of cake–you have 3 options: 1) a 30 foot/10 meter jump, 2) a 5 foot/1.5 meter jump, and 3) an awkward crawl down some rocks with a gentle slide into the water at the end. Ben would have chosen option 1 but knew I would kill him if he did (it appears to be perfectly safe, lots of people did it while we were there, I’m just paranoid), so instead he went for option 2. Me, being the chicken-y chicken 🐔 that I am, took option 3. It wasn’t graceful, but I am not a fan of heights or jumping off things (I jumped off a waterfall last time I was in Maui and that was enough for a lifetime), so it served my purposes just fine. The water was glorious and it’s a really pretty spot, so make the time to stop here!
After such a long day, I was rewarded with some ‘home’-cooked rice (our Airbnb had a rice cooker and so we planned accordingly) and chicken (my staple meal)–it was glorious [🍚 + 🍗 = 🤗 Sally].
Day 12: More volcanoes, because why not?
We missed out on reserving a spot for sunrise at Haleakala, so we had to settle for sunset (poor us). We made the windy drive up towards the mountain and about halfway there realized we only had 1/3 of a gas tank. I panicked and asked that we stop but Ben was sure we would be fine–the actual mileage we had to drive wasn’t much (including the way back) and the car indicated we had plenty of miles left (100 miles). By the time we got to the Visitor’s Center (20 miles later), we were down to 1/4 tank and the car said we had 45 miles left in the tank. This was theoretically enough to get us up the mountain and back home, but we had just eaten through half our mileage capacity in a fifth of the distance–Ben didn’t account for the steep climb. I was panicking but trying not to yell “I told you so!” and left it to him to decide. By some miracle, we did manage to make it to the top without eating up much more gas by driving slowly and steadily, so fortunately for Ben this story does not end with me yelling at him at the top of a volcano. Instead, we enjoyed the beautiful sunset (while freezing our butts off), had our packed dinner, and drove back home. [Photo of the sunset below, more in Ben’s photo post] Of course, on the way down the mountain, all of a sudden our tank mileage jumped up to >150 miles (thanks, gravity!), so all that worry for nothing. I was rewarded with a trip to Target and all was forgiven.
Day 13: A gloriously uneventful day
This was the most relaxing day of our trip so far, if not of my life. We 1) cooked a late breakfast, 2) lied in our beach chairs in the large, grassy area behind our Airbnb (the beach was very narrow here and too windy for the umbrella), alternating between the sun and shade of a tree and napping or reading, for several hours, and 3) finally moved our lazy behinds to cook some dinner and do some laundry so we could pack for the next morning’s flight. Nothing exciting happened and it was wonderful.
And that’s the end of our Maui run! Next comes Australia–post on our first stop, Cairns, to come soon. Thanks for reading!