Home » 2018 Hawaii Big Island & Maui

Maui, HI

Wednesday, January 17, 2018 - 2:30pm by Lolo
0 miles and 0 hours from our last stop - 5 night stay


Day 1 - Arrival on Maui, Stocking Up at Safeway, and checking into our Maui Banyan Condo in Kihei

Flight to MauiFlight to MauiI’m not a particularly big fan of flying in small planes, so I have to admit to being somewhat terrified on our Mokulele flight between the Big Island and Maui. The winds were gusty at 35 mph, the plane was a small 9-passenger Cessna, and our pilot was wearing skinny jeans and looked about 17.

We had already cheated death once this vacation during the incoming ballistic missile alert, so I was none too thrilled to be thinking about my mortality once again. Herb, of course, thought I was being ridiculous. I guess he was right, because I obviously have lived to talk and write about this.

Although quite bumpy, the pilot did a great job and we landed safely in Kahului on beautiful Maui island.

This time we stocked up at a Safeway rather than a Costco, because we had to throw out so much food on the Big Island because we just couldn’t get through the Costco-sized groceries, especially with Herb’s stomach virus.

Maui sunsetMaui sunsetAs we drove toward Kihei where we would be staying the next 5 days, we immediately noticed how different Maui was from the big island. Rather than endless fields of dark lava, Maui was mountainous and green, reflecting its older age. It was absolutely stunning. Also, everything seemed much more manicured and swanky. You could definitely drop a few bucks here.

After a few wrong turns, we finally found our condo in a large condo complex called Maui Banyan. The location was great - right across the street from a beach and in walking distance to lots of restaurants. I was a bit disappointed in our condo, however. When I think condo, I think kitchen, but all this one had was a tiny microwave and frig. Also, all the available closets were locked and used by the owner. I guess we were spoiled by our accommodations on the Big Island.

Day 2 - Makena Beach and strolling around Kihei

Makena BeachMakena BeachHerb and I were playing a bit of virus tag team. Just as he was starting to recover from his stomach virus, I came down with a god-awful sore throat and hacking cough. However, we were determined that the show must go on.

Our absolute #1 thing to do on Maui was the hike down into Haleakala Crater, but we decided to put that rather strenuous activity off for a day, in the hope of feeling better tomorrow, and just relax on the beach for the day.

How to choose. So many beautiful beaches, so little time. Fortunately we had our Maui Revealed guidebook to give us some options, complete with rating really spectacular beaches as “Real Gems.” Just to give you an idea as to how stunningly beautiful the beaches on Maui are, there are 9 Real Gems in South Maui alone.

We chose Makena Beach, considered by many to be “the” beach on Maui. With its beautiful crescent of golden sand almost ⅔ of a mile long, it is the type of beach most people think of when they think Hawaii.

There are actually two beaches at Makena - Big Beach and Little Beach. Big Beach is the one closest to the parking lot, and Little Beach is reached by climbing over a rocky promontory at the northern side of Big Beach.

We spent a lovely afternoon reading, relaxing, swimming, and coughing (in my case) on Little Beach.

That evening we strolled across the street from our condo to Kamaole Beach Park, where we sipped a glass of wine and watched the sunset over the Pacific. Afterwards had wonderful Ahi Ahi fish tacos at the nearby Coconut’s Fish cafe. It was so fresh and delicious - and surprisingly inexpensive. I thought dining in Maui was going to be much more expensive.

Day 3 - Haleakala National Park

Lolo descending into Haleakala CraterLolo descending into Haleakala CraterI had gotten very little sleep last night, having spent most of it coughing and sipping tea to ease my burning throat, so I wasn’t exactly feeling my usual energetic self. Still we were determined to go to Haleakala with the intention of hiking the Sliding Sands Trail to the crater floor.

The drive up to the summit of Haleakala summit was an endless series of steep, nausea- inducing switchbacks. If you’ve ever seen Hawaii travel footage of cyclists careening down a steep, windy road requiring no pedaling for miles, this is the place. However, it's not like the old days where cyclists started their descent from the 10,000-foot Haleakala summit. The Park banned commercial cycling back in 2007, so now biking tour companies have to drop bikers off at 6,500 feet, outside the boundaries of the National Park.

As we drove the windy road towards the summit, we became enveloped in clouds. No worries we thought. The guide book warned us that we would hit clouds on the way up, but would rise above them at the summit where the skies would be clear.

Clouds in Haleakala CraterClouds in Haleakala CraterWhen we stopped at the first Visitor Center at 7,000 feet, it had already begun to rain. When I asked the ranger about weather conditions at the summit, she told me that it was cloudy and rainy there too, and would probably be that way for the whole day. Oh no! We were so looking forward to our hike.

Not knowing what else to do, we continued on to the upper Visitor Center at the 10,000-foot summit, where it was, as predicted, rainy and windy. We were so disappointed.

After killing some time in the Visitor Center, we decided to just walk over to the Sliding Sands Trailhead to get a feel for what it was like. As we stood at the top of the trail, the rain slowed down to a drizzle, and a tiny bit of sun peeked out between the clouds, dramatically lighting up a portion of the colorful hills of the crater. When a rainbow appeared, we took it as a sign.

Awesome colors of HaleakalaAwesome colors of HaleakalaWe ran back to the car for our lunch and backpacks and began our descent, hoping the weather kept moving in the right direction, so we could make it the 4 miles to the crater floor, 2,400 feet below.

The colors inside the crater are amazing - cinder cones tinted by red, orange, yellow, green, and blue volcanic ash and rock and shimmering silverswords dotting the landscape like blotches of paint.

The weather just kept getting better and better. We had started out with 4 layers of clothing - including a down jacket covered by a rain jacket, and were down to short sleeves by the time we reached the crater floor. So glad we didn’t listen to the forecast.

While having lunch at the bottom, I started getting a headache. Herb suggested that I might have a bit of altitude sickness. After all, we had driven up from sea level to 10,000 feet in about an hour and a half, giving ourselves absolutely no time to acclimate. I took an Ibuprofen and tried to drink lots of water. I don’t think it particular helped that I was already pretty sick, and later found out that I had a low-grade fever.

Haleakala SilverswordHaleakala SilverswordThe climb back out of the crater, which would normally just have been a hearty hike for me, became quite an ordeal as my headache worsened to the point where it felt like there was an ice pick sticking in my brain. Herb knew I was hurting when I suggested that we stop every few minutes to rest. After what felt like forever, we made it to the top and I immediately got in the car and assumed the fetal position. The long twisty ride down from the summit didn’t exactly help, and I was quite car sick by the bottom.

The hike was, as my adventurous sons would describe many of their weekends, Type II fun - miserable while happening, but fun in retrospect. I would definitely do it again.

Day 4 - Makena Beach and strolling along the Wailea Coastal Path

HiloHiloI definitely needed a recovery day after yesterday’s battle with altitude and my worsening cold. Fortunately, if you have to be sick on vacation, Hawaii is probably the best place to do it. Lying on a gorgeous beach with a good book can hardly be considered a hardship.

So, we spent the day at Makena Beach, the gorgeous beach we had discovered the other day. This time Herb got a chance to snorkel, but I just wasn’t up for it.I’m glad he did, because on the Big Island it had been the reverse - I snorkeled while he was sick. Not exactly how we envisioned our vacation, but still, we were trying to make the best of a challenging situation.

After leaving the beach, we went for a stroll on the Wailea Coastal Walk, a lovely paved path with some of the most exclusive Maui hotels on one side and sandy beaches on the other. During our 3 ½ mile walk, we saw everything from luaus to breaching humpback whales.

That evening had dinner at Fred’s Mexican Cafe, another dining establishment near our condo. At first I hesitated going to a Mexican restaurant on Maui, but where better to have tacos - and of course since we were on Maui, fish tacos. It was quite good, and like Coconut Fish Cafe (where we also had fish tacos), very reasonable.

Despite the way I was feeling, it really was a lovely day. It’s hard not to be happy on Maui.

Day 5 - Lahaina and the Nakalele Blowhole

Front Street in LehainaFront Street in LehainaToday we would explore West Maui, the bulge extending into the Pacific on Maui’s northwest side - specifically the lovely town of Lahaina, which is pretty much the only town on Maui that has an actual downtown to stroll around.

During the 19th century, Lahaina was the capital of the Hawaiian Kingdom, as well as a bustling seaport and whaling village. Even Herman Melville spent time in Lahaina during a whaling voyage.

Although today Lehaina is a bustling Maui hotspot with dozens of restaurants, art galleries, and unique shops, we still got a feel for its past while strolling along the waterfront on Front Street.

Banyan Tree ParkBanyan Tree ParkWhat first attracted me to Lahaina was a picture of its famous banyan tree, one of the largest in the United States. Imported from India in 1873, this sprawling tree now stands over 60 feet high and sprawls outward the length of an entire city block. Although this seems like a clump of trees, it is actually only one tree, which spreads by producing aerial roots that hang down and take root wherever they touch the ground. It was probably one of the most beautiful trees I have ever seen.

We concluded our stop in Lehaina with lunch at the Paia Fish Market, where for a change from fish tacos, we had fish and chips, or in my case, shrimp and chips. It was delicious.

After lunch, we continued north along coastal highway 30, which after Kapalua became extremely twisty. The topography of this island definitely must boost Dramamine sales.

Nakalele BlowholeNakalele BlowholeAt mile marker 38.5, we pulled into a small parking lot to hike the Acid War Zone Trail down to the Nakalele Blowhole. The trail is named for the erosion in this area caused by salt spray and wind. There’s really no marked path down from the parking lot, so we kind of just weaved our way down over the rocky terrain. There is another parking lot at mile marker 38 with an easier route down to the blowhole.

The blowhole was pretty impressive, with jets of water shooting as high as 50 feet in the air. It reminded me a bit of Old Faithful. This phenomenon is caused by the ocean undercutting the shore and forcing seawater up through a large lava shelf. It is especially exciting during high tide and surf.

It was challenging to time the perfect photo, as the blasts were rather unpredictable and short-lived. So, we took a lot, hoping to capture one at its height. One embarrassing aside. On our flight home, while reviewing photos on my phone, I asked Herb a bit too loudly if I could see his blowhole pictures. I probably could have phrased that a bit better.

Day 6 - Time to go home

Despite some challenges, we had covered a lot of ground, seen some amazingly beautiful places, hiked some awesome trails, eaten our share of fish tacos, and not been wiped out by a ballistic missile All in all, I would have to call it a success.



Haleakala CraterHaleakala CraterI am not even going to begin to attempt a description of the island of Maui, as there are people that have already done that much better. Instead, I highly recommend purchasing the book "Maui Revealed" before planning your trip. It has an incredibly detailed wealth of information about everything you need to know.

Maui location map in "high definition"

Javascript is required to view this map.