– Honolulu, Hawaii to Wailea, Hawaii –
We’ve made it to our second island! I’m writing to you tonight from our hotel on Maui. We started our morning at 5am without a run and a swim, which made us a little sad. Instead, we showered and finished packing, then had the last of our breakfast things and headed for the airport.
I’ve never seen so many signs for car rental returns as I saw today at the Honolulu airport. They really don’t want you to get lost. It was nice, though, because after filling the tank back up with gas, we got to the rental car return with ease and were able to make it into the airport pretty quickly. We did have to take a shuttle to our terminal, but that wasn’t a big deal.
We made it to the airport a little too early, to be honest. The email Mark got from Hawiian Airlines told us that we only had to be 30 minutes early for our flight, but I assume that means already past security. We were past security and sitting at our gate by 7:30, and we were mostly by ourselves. Most of the people waiting for the flight really did arrive only about a half hour before: just before boarding time, really.
In any event, we made it onto our plane and were landing on Maui by 9:30. These local flights barely have time to get above the clouds before they descend again to land. It’s nice to be in the air for such a short amount of time, but going through regular security for a flight that’s that easy is a little exhausting. I can’t say I recommend it.
Once we landed, we took yet another shuttle to the Avis rental counter for the airport there in Kahului, where we picked up a tiny gray car practically identically to our last tiny gray rental car, save for the brand being different. I feel like the local rental agencies are color-coding the tourists, so all the locals know to watch out for the little gray sedans. Who knows. It could be true.
It was way early for lunch, but Mark had been hungry since we’d boarded the plane, so we drove into Kahului looking for someplace to eat. We were totally shocked to find that we were less than a mile from another Whole Foods when we left the rental agency. Since Mark was starving and we knew Whole Foods would work, we had that again for our lunch. Well, Mark’s meal was about half breakfast since they hadn’t cleared away all of the breakfast things from the hot food bar yet, but it still counted as lunch for us.
With food out of the way, we turned out little rental towards our destination for today: West Maui. West Maui is almost it’s own island. The two parts of Maui are connected by a much narrower section of land, and the western section is made up of a massive forest reserve. No roads run through the middle of the reserve. Instead, a long, winding road skirts around the forest, riding the edge along the coast.
I have to say, we weren’t exactly prepared for how the road would really be. It climbs up and down a couple of mountains, and for most of the climb up the eastern side, the road is single lane. It’s a little scary, to be honest. Saying it is winding doesn’t even do it justice. The road is constant switchbacks and harrowing (for me) passes that have you so close to the edge of the cliff that you can’t see the side of the road from the passenger window.
Regardless of my fears, the view was totally worth it. The valleys between the mountains are a verdant green, and the fog hovering over the peaks gives the whole area a certain mysterious appeal. The coast is all towering cliffs and rocky points, and all of that is surrounded by the deep blue of the ocean.
The road gets your blood pumping too as you fret about some idiot running you off into the abyss below. We drove on a lot of one-lane roads in Scotland, and it seemed like everyone there was falling all over themselves to let the other car go first. Not so here in the good old U.S. of A. Oh, no. People here have to attempt to aggressively squeeze by, even when the other car has no little shoulder to pull off into and they do. I’ve never met so many pushy jerks on one road before. That part was not particularly amusing. Luckily Mark doesn’t do that whole road-rage thing, so we would just sigh in exasperation and watch the oncoming traffic try to force its way past us when we didn’t have anywhere to go. Thanks for shoving us out of the way while we were trying to climb a mountain, friends!
There are several waysides off of the one lane road, and even more when it turns back into a state highway on the northernmost part, some of them marked on the official maps and some of them only to be found by reading signs or looking at the little photo emblems on Google Maps.
The first of these that attracted our interest was Olivine Pools, which turns out to be a little hike down to a rocky volcanic point. What’s unusual about it, though, is that the rocks have several deep wells in them, allowing people to scramble down to the outcrop from the cliff above to swim.
To say that this is frowned upon is an understatement. As we walked a little ways down the trail to even see what the sign was for (our internet didn’t work at the time), we came across a memorial. Apparently a man died in the pools just this January. He was swimming in the pool when a wave crashed over the rocks and swept him away. The stone marker said his body was never found.
Despite the memorial, and the nasty warning sign beside it, we still saw perhaps 25 people who were either walking down to the pools in swimwear, or walking back up, toweling off. Anyone who can walk down a cliff and hop into something like that after reading a memorial for someone that died doing that exact thing 6 months ago has very little sense, I think.
It was beautiful, though. We obviously didn’t go all of the way down, but I think you could comfortably get within 50 feet without being in any real danger. It wouldn’t be too bad to walk down there and take pictures, but getting into that water is just crazy.
After the Olivine Pools, we continued up the road to Nakalele Blowhole. Much like the blowhole on Oahu, when the surf crashes into the side of the cliffs just right, water shoots up into the sky like a geyser. It was quite a bit more robust than the last blowhole we visited.
Once again, we came across a sign talking about the danger in the area. I guess people have gotten too close to the blowhole and been sucked down into the ocean through the hole in the cliff. People seemed to have better sense about this one, though. I didn’t see anyone that was too close. Most people were just down there taking photos and videos. We got close, but didn’t end up going all of the way down to that, either.
As you round the corner from the top of West Maui, the terrain changes, and so does the population. The beaches are boring and sandy once again, and all of the state parks and waysides along the road are mostly just regular old beaches. We stopped at a few, but not many of them held our interest for long, and it didn’t take us long to finish our loop.
On the road back up to Kahukui, we stopped briefly at the Maui Tropical Plantation, which is much like the Dole Plantation from before. You can take a tour of the pineapple farm, or buy fruity souvenirs. This one had it’s own restaurant, so it was even a little more built out than the las one. It even had a zipline tour if you didn’t want to ride the shuttle. Once we’d had a look, we moved on. $20 a person to tour a pineapple farm is a little much, I don’t care who you are.
When we ran out of things to do on our loop road, it was about 3:30, and we decided that we would check into our hotel. With that in mind, we turned south toward Wailea. We actually made a mistake booking our hotel down here, though we didn’t realize it until today. When we booked, we thought we were reasonably close to Haleakala National Park, but it turns out that you have to drive all the way back up to Kahului to take the road down to the park. The roads between the park and Wailea don’t connect, though I’m not sure why.
Our hotel is nice, though, so I guess it worked out okay. Besides, It’s very pretty down here, and I’m not sure we would’ve come down this way if we weren’t staying in the area. Also, our hotel is right on the beach, which has Mark all excited for tomorrow morning. It won’t take any effort at all to head down to the beach after our run.
Down the road a ways from our hotel is a large lava field from one if the volcanoes in the area, and the drive down to it is pretty cool as well. Once again, the road is one-lane. This time it hugs the ocean for a while, then disappears into the center of a large area that’s totally covered with old lava rock. It’s neat, and you can spot the volcano that did it in the distance.
We poked around down in that area until it started to get late (around 5:30), then turned around and drove back up past our hotel and headed once again for Kahului. I have a feeling that’s going to be a theme for this part of the trip. This time, though it wasn’t really necessary, we drove up to visit Whole Foods once again to buy groceries for our breakfast. Our hotel doesn’t serve breakfast to its guests once again, so we will need something to eat, and though this area probably has a grocery store, it wouldn’t have been as much fun to visit.
For dinner, we were going to have Vietnamese, but we got a little confused about which restaurant was where, so in the end, we stopped instead at a ramen place near the Whole Foods. It’s amazing how common the various types of Asian food are here. Mark and I haven’t had any trouble finding vegetarian food, since it’s common to many of those cuisines. I’m still interested in some Greek and Indian food for this trip. I think there’s a pita place down in Wailea that we may get to try tomorrow.
Our ramen came from Oritsu Ramen, which was basically empty. I can’t imagine why, since the ramen was great. The music in the restaurant was a little annoying, but I can put up with that for a decent meal.
Once we’d eaten, we made our Whole Foods stop, where we bought some yogurt, some juice, granola bars, and a bunch of tiny local bananas. Mark is looking forward to them, he tells me. He’s been talking about local fruit for the last two days. We need to find one of the little farmers’ markets I’ve seen around the islands for him, so he can try something better.
We also bought a lemonade for me and a locally made root beer for Mark. He said it was pretty good, though not any better than any other version of the fancier types of root beer. My lemonade was good, too, but it was not local in any way.
It’s about a 25 minute drive from Whole Foods back to our hotel, and we spent the drive reading our book. When we got back, we unpacked our groceries into our cooler and walked down to the beach to snap a few photographs.
I’ve mentioned we are right on the water, right? It’s right there. I’m talking a 1 minute walk from the door to our room to the ocean. It was a little crowded this evening, but I’m hopeful that it will be a little emptier at about 6:30 in the morning when we’re done with our run.
Tomorrow we will go and see our first national park here on the islands. I’m not sure if it will be the only day we go, since the two roads that go through the park are in separate areas. A lot of it depends on how long everything takes to visit. I guess we will find out in the morning.
– Trip Total : 444 miles –