Hawaii Trip 2013 Recap: Oahu & Maui – Part 2

READ PART ONE HERE.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013:

Another early morning (thanks neighbors who sucked), we got breakfast at Cafe Mambo, checked out of the lodge (which was us just leaving the key on the bed and walking away), then headed to Haiku to see the small town and drink Kombucha at Maui Kombucha. Very tasty stuff, we’d suggest it as a stop to anyone who is near Haiku.

Later after we were totally content, we moved onto Lahaina. It was actually a pretty long drive, much longer than we expected. However, it all worked out great when we stopped at Maui Brewing Co. for a flight and lunch. The small batch brews that they have were really good and a nice surprise to try beers only available in the tap room. We geared up on some MBC merchandise and drove back into Lahaina to explore a bit more.

We stopped by the Whaler’s Village to go to the free whaling museum our book told us about – except the book was wrong again, and it wasn’t free. It’s only $3 per person, so we’ll possibly be heading back on Saturday during the Maui Onion Festival to see it. We put our feet in the ocean along the beach, and then drove into Kehei to check-in to the Maui Coast Hotel.

It’s a really nice but small resort. The room is very big (with air conditioning,) the grounds themselves are very well maintained and landscaped. The pool area is awesome with a full bar for drinks to enjoy nearby. The beach is just a five minute walk from the hotel and we spent close to an hour jumping in the ocean, playing in the waves and digging holes to sit in while the water crashed around us. It was an absolute blast!

We returned to the pool to enjoy a beer while we played around a bit more, before heading up to shower and go grab dinner. We went to a very small and inexpensive Mexican restaurant called Taqueria Cruz with fantastic food. A talented singer/ songwriter named Sebrina Barron (www.sebrinabarron.com) was playing outside while we ate. We left a tip and grabbed a flyer with her info on it so we can follow her music this summer (new album in June).

Completely stuffed and fully content, we stopped in a small souvenir shop and bought two small drums (one for Charlie, one for myself), before heading back to our room for the night. With a pick-up time of 2:15am for the Haelakala bike tour, it was time for a very early bedtime!

 

Thursday, May 2, 2013:

1:45am wake-up! Elizabeth and I groggily shuffled out of bed and get ready for the bike trip. The van from Maui Downhill picked us up promptly at 2:15 and took us to their HQ. We signed a safety waiver, got fitted for our helmets and received our windbreaker jacket and pants for the Haleakala sunrise.

We met up with another couple, Alex & Laura from Australia who were also staying at our hotel. Everyone then got on the bus. Elizabeth and I were the last ones on and because of an odd number; we initially had to sit as far apart as you possibly could. Thankfully a very nice gentleman agreed to switch spots with me! The ride up to the crater overlook was about 1 hour and 15 minutes, which wasn’t so bad. It was just as twisty and winding as the Road to Hana.

Arriving at the crater overlook, we exited the bus and went to stake out prime spots for the sunrise. We had about one hour to wait before the complete rise. Colors began appearing on the horizon somewhere around 30 minutes prior to actual sunrise (5:48am). It was an absolutely beautiful view. We were well above the clouds so as the sun began to peak over the horizon, color lit the clouds like they were on fire.

It didn’t take long for the sun to actually rise, probably no more than a minute before it was completely above the horizon line. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say it was the most beautiful sunrise I’ve ever seen. We stayed a bit longer to snap more photos before joining the bus to explore a few other areas on top of the mountain volcano. We rode to the very top, 10,023 feet, and finally to where Kahuna’s (priests) would walk every morning to pray to the sun god.

After our mountain tour, we met up with other Maui Downhill leaders for the bike part of the trip. They were old bikes, pretty comfortable, but slightly dirty (mine had very sticky handlebars and handbrakes), but just fine for a ride overall. We received an overview of safety including directions for how to ride down the mountain.

We were underway in a single file formation, about 12 people deep. I was third-to-last in the line, so very close to the end. Unfortunately the two women who lead the line behind our downhill leader were very scared of the ride and slowed down considerably to the point that at the end of the line where I was, it virtually a crawl. I had my hand squeezing the break for well over half the ride.

The group stopped at a lavender farm to get lunch after going about halfway down. It was a very pretty spot as we watched the clouds roll over our location. It was a very cool and strange feeling to watch and feel clouds roll right into you. The downhill leader stopped the lead women from continuing so we were able to go faster for the most part, but the second woman was still scared (Elizabeth was third). There were plenty of times where we were able to actually build up speed, but other times where the successive line of breaking caused major backups.

Overall it was definitely worth the trip and a great experience. I can’t think of a better way to view the sunrise and it was a wonderful ride down when we were able to get some speed. I would certainly recommend it to someone else.

Our driver took us, along with Alex & Laura back to our hotel and dropped us off sometime around 11am. We decided to try and take a nap, but after drinking a beer, no such luck. We got our suits on and headed to the pool for swimming and lunch at the cafe. After fully stuffing ourselves with the 4th meal/ snack of the day, we headed to the beach again.

Playing in the ocean is always fun, but we added to the experience this time by building a dam, bridge and big hole in the sand, which after it was time to go, I turned into a dragon laying down. Plenty of people laughed in good spirits at our inner child’s, but we enjoyed every second of it.

We headed back to the pool, where it was jam-packed. Had a couple drinks and socialized with other pool people before meeting David and Lori. Both grew up in Colorado but live here now. They were incredibly nice people and there are really good odds that we’ll see them in Denver when they visit their family again soon! We had dinner with them, then called it a night sometime around 9pm. 20 hours of straight activity finally got to us and we both crashed hard – possibly the best day of our trip yet!

Friday, May 3, 2013:

10 hours of sleep and woke up after 8am, holy crap! Somehow we were still a bit groggy, but excited to get going on the day. Snorkeling was our big agenda task for the day! We got our stuff together and headed south towards Wailea.

We made the mistake of driving past all the breakfast places in Kehei and had to settle for The Coffee Bean at the Wailea shopping area. The Wailea area is filled with the fanciest resorts on the island and extremely nice homes. But it is also filled with hidden beach gems!

Our first stop was at Polo Beach. We tried snorkeling there, which wasn’t bad, but the reef areas were small and the water was kind of murky. We did see a few small groups of fish (and at least 2 Dory’s), but nothing too extensive. After a bit of snorkeling we played in the ocean and really enjoyed the waves there. It was a really fantastic beach, and one that we would suggest to any other visitors.

We then headed to find Secret Beach, a small beach that David and Lori got married at a few weekends ago and said was really cool, but not a great swimming beach. We found it thanks to our GPS and had a chance to stand and enjoy the beautiful view. There were a lot of rocks at the middle and base of the beaches, so there were only small openings to get in the water. In the small gaps, it would probably be a great small beach for kids to swim in the end of the crashing waves, but it’d be very tough to snorkel or swim out here for fear of crashing into the rocks.

Ahihi Bay was our next stop inside the nature preserve. It felt like it wasn’t a place you could actually drive too, but after arriving it was a prime snorkeling location. There wasn’t a beach, but you could enter on the right side to see some great reefs with a lot of fish. I was able to take a few videos of the snorkeling too that turned out pretty good. We snorkeled for close to 30 minutes before heading back in.

Dried off, we headed back up Wailea to the Makena State Park to see Big Beach, another beach recommendation. This was indeed a very big beach and also had some very big waves. We stayed and played in the ocean for awhile and then headed back to the hotel.

Our last location of the day was to get dinner at Maui Brick Oven, a great little gluten-free pizza company. It was a nice dinner and we had plenty of leftovers. We went back to our hotel for a chill night in. We drank a bottle of Maui Wine (pineapple wine!) and watched Rango on the iPad. All in all a very nice and relaxing end to an eventful past couple days.

Saturday, May 4, 2013:

May the Fourth Be With You! Despite the Star Wars fan holiday, we didn’t do anything Star Wars related unless you count snorkeling, which sounds like Darth Vader breathing under the ocean surface.

Snorkeling began at Black Rock, a great snorkeling spot in front of the Sheraton in Ka’anapali. It was a pretty big reef area along an internal rock wall. We saw a lot of cool fish, coral and one sea turtle. The crowds began to pour in after about one hour, so we booked it out of there shortly after. We attempted to go to the Ka’anapali Coffee Farms, only to find out that the actual coffee beans are grown amongst a huge real estate development area. There isn’t any tour options or tasting house on the actual farm area.

After becoming frustrated, we decided to drive to Honolua Bay to see the famed bay that is home to 20 foot swells in the winter. It was absolutely calm and beautiful when we stood at the overlook, but locals have told us (not to mention the surf company named after it), that it holds some of the best surfing in the world when the season is perfect.

We headed back to Lahaina and stopped at MauiGrown Coffee Company, the home of the coffee farm and did a coffee tasting flight. It was the first official coffee tasting we had ever participated in and it was very interesting. We purchased a few pounds of coffee for Cathy and Charlie, as well as us.

It was about lunch time so we headed over to Front Street, a very old and historic area of Lahaina that is home to shopping, restaurants and more. It’s along the coast and a very cool and beautiful area to explore. We got shaved ice at Breakwall Shaved Ice as well as lunch before roaming the streets more. Along the road home we stopped at Kalepolepo Park to watch people kite-board and take photos of their feats. It’s was a pretty incredible opportunity to get some cool photos!

We arrived back at the hotel, headed to the pool and hung out and relaxed for awhile in the comfortable water. Sunset was approaching so we went upstairs to shower, and then walked to our local beach Kamaole Beach Park One to watch the sunset. The sun dropped behind clouds right before finally setting, but I think I was still able to get some very neat sunset photos of the waves crashing into the beach.

Content, we walked back to our room, ate leftover pizza and finally to Maui Gelato for dessert – which was amazing! Craving beer, we stopped to get a beer at the ABC Store to enjoy back in our room before bed. Finally, we relaxed together on our last full night in Hawaii. After so many action packed days, we’re both pretty damn tired and looking forward to getting home. It’ll be sad to get back to the daily grind, but it’ll also keep us motivated to enhance our live/ work/ play balance in the future! MAHALO HAWAII!

Sunday, May 5, 2013:

We woke up a bit antsy after a not-so-great night sleep and headed to Kehei Cafe for breakfast. It was an absolutely packed place and obviously very popular with locals on Sunday mornings. It was well worth the wait as both of our breakfasts were tasty! After, we headed back to the hotel to pack and check out. It was a very easy check out and we packed the car full in the trunk in advance of exploring Kahului while leaving the car.

With plenty of time to kill and overcast skies and cooler weather we decided to see Iron Man 3. It was really fun and different than what I expected, but a fun movie. When the movie ended, we went back to our car and drove into Wailuku to explore. The area was totally dead and everything was closed up on Sundays, so after aimlessly wandering, we headed back into Paia for a late lunch at Flatbread again. So totally worth it! Not only was the pizza great again, we also got ponchos for our Corona’s – it was Cinco de Mayo after all!

There was still a lot of time before we needed to head to the airport, so we wandered the shops a bit and picked up a few more gifts for family. We stopped at Tobi’s Shave Ice for a last Hawaiian treat, and then drove back to Kahului to drop off the car and get to the airport. It was a very easy trip and we arrived with plenty of time. Nearly two hours to kill! Our flight boarded on time and we said goodbye to Hawaii for now. After a a short connection time (and a run through LAX) we made it to our connecting flight home. Arriving in Denver on the morning of the 6th through us for a bit of a loop, but the trip was fantastic. Already looking forward to exploring Hawaii and Kauai on the next trip!

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